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Western University
Geography 2010A/B
Suzanne Greaves

Chapter 9: Atlantic Canada Atlantic Canada Within Canada  Consists of two parts: the Maritimes (NS, PEI, NB) and Newfoundland and Labrador; united by rich sense of place that has grown out of the region’s history, British and French settlements, and its geographic location on the Atlantic ocean  Canada’s oldest hinterland; it has experienced both growth and decline over the last 200 years; considered a downwards transitional model  Primary reasons for Atlantic Canada’s weak economic performance include the following: o Political division into four provinces discourages the emergence of an integrated economy in which economies of scale might occur and increases the cost of government o Has been exploiting its resources for a long time and some of these, such as coal and iron, have been exhausted, while its renewable resources, such as northern cod, have been over exploited o Population is widely dispersed and, with the exception of Halifax, consists of small markets o Distance from national and global markets has stifled its manufacturing base  All these problems have caused Atlantic Canada’s economy to flourish in the region; received a second chance with the discovery of offshore oil and gas deposits, its potential as an Atlantic gateway, and its position as an energy corridor to New England Atlantic Canada’s Physical Geography  Contains two of Canada’s physiographic regions: Appalachian uplands and the Canadian Shield  Appalachian Uplands: found in the Maritimes and the island of Newfoundland; worn down remnants of an ancient mountain chain; streams have cut deeply into highlands and uplands, resulting in rugged, hilly terrain  Canadian Shield: found in Labrador; prominent feature is the uplifted and glaciated Torngat Mountains; subjected to the mountain building process, orogeny, in which the rocks were folded and faulted 750 mya.; in geologic times these mountains were covered with glaciers, which, as the glaciers slowly moved down slope, carved the mountain features and eventually reached the sea, where they created a fjorded coastline  Climate is varied because meeting of continental air masses with marine air masses; flow of continental air mass from west to east brings warm weather in summer and cold weather in winter; moderate, marine type weather is tempered by the cold waters of Labrador sea and the warmer waters around st Lawrence gulf; continental effect due to the movement of air masses across Canada; during winter cold, dry aire frequently enters Atlantic Canada from the interior Canada; summer occasional incursions of hot, humid air from Gulf of Mexico take place but dominant weather is cool and rainy  Precipitation is abundant; much comes from nor’easters—strong winds off the ocean from the northeast—that draw their moisture from the Atlantic Ocean  Much foggy weather; thick, cool fogs form in the chilled air above the Labrador current when it mixes with warm, moisture laden air from the Gulf of Mexico  Three climatic zones: Atlantic, Subarctic, and Arctic zones; reasons because the great north-south extent of this region; also it is the meeting place for Arctic and tropical air masses and ocean currents  Arctic Zone—found in northern Labrador, in mountains along the coast; extremely cold and stormy weather along the coast while the Labrador current brings icebergs from Greenland to the Labrador and NFLD coastlines; associated with tundra vegetation since summers too cold for tree growth  Subarctic—over interior Labrador; much warmer summer weather and this area associated with the boreal forest  Atlantic—Includes Maritimes and the island of NFLD; mostly under the influence of warm, moist air masses that originate in the tropical waters; Coastal areas of the Maritimes and NFLD can be affected by tropical storms in the ate summer and fall Environmental Challenges  Major environmental challenges is the collapse of the cod fishery; but this was due to more technological advances that enable much larger catches, coupled with federal mismanagement, than to natural factors such as warming of the Atlantic waters or the expanded seal population consuming the cod;  Environmental disaster: the Sydney Tar Ponds, which are composed of tar and wide variety of chemicals that are dangerous to human beings (arsenic, lead and other chemicals found); these toxic wastes came form the operation of the Sydney Steel Co. Or Sysco, esp. its coke ovens which is where coal was heated at very high temps (waste included tar and toxic gases); These toxic wastes included benzene, kerosene, and naphthalene  Wastes went into streams; those living near these ponds complained of orange goo seeping into their basements, while other found dust from the tar ponds was blowing into their yards and houses; Higher risk of cancer living in areas in Whiteny Pier and Ashby  Sydney tar ponds are the site of the biggest environmental cleanup project in Canada Atlantic Canada’s Historical Geography  Atlantic Canada was the first part of North America to be discovered by the Europeans (by the Vikings); First documented discovery was by John Cabot (he was searching for a sea route to Asia); Cabot’s report about the amount of ground fish (cod, grey sole, flounder, redfish, and turbot) in the waters off NFLD lured European settlers (fishers actually)  Beothuk: before the arrival of fishing boats from Europe, the Beothuk Indians hunted and fished on the island of NFLD; relations with fishers and settlers often resulted in conflicts, which confined the Beothuk to the inland. With access to coastal resources cut off and under attack by settlers, the Beothuk struggled to survive in the resource-poor interior; last of them died in 1829  Scottish Highland Clearances: Forced displacements of poor tenant farmers in the Scottish Highlands during the 18 and 19 centuries; migration ensued and Scottish settlers arrived at Fort Garry to found Lord Selkirk’s experimental colony  Irish Famine: the great famine in Ireland took place between 1845 and 1852 when the principal crop and source of food, the potato, was devastated by blight, causing widespread crop failures; Many Irish immigrated to Atlantic Canada, esp. to St. John, NB o Both of these resulted in large influxes of migrants with Celtic cultural roots  Historic Head Start o By 1840 Atlantic Canada entered the Golden Age of Sail with nova scotia and NB becoming the leading shipbuilding centres in the British Empire; exports from Atlantic Canada were mainly cod and timber, while imports were manufactured goods from England and sugar and rum from the British West Indies  Confederation o Provinces of Atlantic Canada joined Canada at different times and for different reasons o NS and NB joined at the time of confederation 1867; PEI in 1873; NFLD in 1949; none of these saw any advantage of joining Canada and were pushed into it o NFLD stood to gain form the social programs offered to Canadians (1) mothers received monthly family allowance payments for each child and that payment provided a reliable source of cash; (2) unemployment insurance payments to seasonal workers like fishers and loggers greatly stabilized family income and supported rural businesses o Confederation had a downside because Ottawa wanted to create a manufacturing base in central Canada o Intercolonial railway built so they could get access to the market of Central Canada; stimulated economic growth in the Maritimes; operated by the Federal gov’t: freight rates kept low to promote trade, and substantial annual deficits were paid by Ottawa o Cotton mills, sugar refineries, rope works, and iron and steel manufacturing plants were established or expanded to serve much larger national market and to grab a share of the expanding western market o Atlantic Canada as a hinterland: small scale resources encourage small scale development; no growth happening in this region; low levels of professional services and low levels of education result from the high taxes from low incomes  Steel, Iron and Coal—The Rise and Fall of Nova Scotia’s Industrial Base o Iron and steel industry in Cape Breton Island near Sydney, NS was for a long time the heavy industrial heartland of Atlantic Canada o Two dark sides to this iron and steel complex existed: one was the loss of life in the coal mines; second was the environmental degradation caused by seepage of toxic fluids from the steel mill, which resulted in Sydney Tar Ponds o Major turning point after WWII when demand for steel dropped and the size of the labour force was reduced (deindustrialization) Atlantic Canada Today  Has the handicap to being the old resource hinterland; many of this regions natural resources have already been harvested and by the 21 century the first growth forests, coal, and cod stocks had been depleted  Attempt at industrialization has been troubled by a small local market, distance to larger markets, are trade barriers to its natural market in New England  Has a fractured geography, which divides in population into a series of small provincial markets and thereby creates four provincial governments  Rural Atlantic Canada has fallen into a steep decline with may coastal vullages disappearing; single industry villages and towns dependent on the cod fishery and forestry are leading the rural retreat; principle factor underlying this rural retreat is the loss of jobs in the primary sector  Atlantic Canada has only one major city—Halifax—with the population size to form a regional capital od he Maritimes  Out-migration of Atlantic Canada’s workforce to more prosperous parts of Canada drains away many of the more ambitious, younger talented people o These six factors prevent Atlantic Canada from making use of economies of scale, which is necessary to keep production costs low and its entrepreneurs from adventuring into new and often risky enterprises  Atlantic Canada has a second chance; first is the discovery and exploitation of offshore oil and gas deposits; Liquid natural gas facilities (LNG) have been constructed at St John, NB which is ideally situated as an energy hub for exporting gasified (warmed) LNG to its natural state for transport through pipeline networks to utilities in new England  Northeast Energy Corridor to facilitate the flow of electricity and natural gas from Saint John to markets in New England  Second opp
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