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Geography 2010A/B
Suzanne Greaves

GEO2010: British Columbia Chapter 7 November 24, 2013 Jessica Hogle British Columbia Within Canada  Southern half of BC has access to the Pacific Ocean while the Alaska Panhandle blocks sea access for the Northern half o Alaska Panhandle a strip of the pacific coast that was awarded to the US in 1903 following what is known as the Alaska boundary dispute  Economy heavily based on its natural resources and the export of those resources and those produced in Western Canada (coal, gran, potash)  Many tourists for scenery; expanding knowledge based industries (high technology and film industries)  Four main exports: pulp, lumber, natural gas, coal  British Columbia-Alberta-Saskatchewan Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) another sign of BCs interest in promoting trade with provinces in Western Canada  Imports from China, Japan, and South Korea flow through Vancouver to market across Canada  Many Chinese immigrants reside in The City of Richmond  Struggle for political power and respect is ongoing and underscores the centralist/decentralist faultline  Cascadia—Oregon, Washington, and BC—is a reaction to the negative feelings towards Ottawa  Another faultline is the Aboriginal/Non Aboriginal faultline—where aboriginal peoples are demanding more power through land-claim agreements BC’s Physical Geography  Greatest asset is its physical geo  Mild west coast climate  Many natural environments or ecosystems due to combo of two contrasting  Wet coast an dry interior due to effect of Coast Mountains on precipitation; Easterly flowing air masses full of moisture falls as orographic precipitation on western slopes while little participation reaches eastern slopes  Climate: winters are mild and summers as rarely as high as the interior plateau of BC; moderate temps, high rainfall, mild but cloudy winters  Pacific ocean has big impact on climate there; also impact on resources and transportation systems  Natural wealth mainly due to forests, minerals, and rivers BC’s Physiographic regions  Most of the physiographic region lies on the cordillera (mountains, plateaus, and valleys); over 16% of Canada’s territory; formed by folding and faulting of sedimentary rocks  Because of the rugged nature of the cordillera, there is little arable land; only about 2 percent of the province’s land is classified as arable  BC’s largest area of cropland lies outside the Cordillera physiographic region in the Peace River country; the shortage of arable land causes a problem for BC  With urban developments spreading into agricultural land, BC lost most of its most productive farmland  Only 5% of BCs landmass considered cropland; Government responded to the serious erosion of its agriculture land base by introducing BCs Land Commission Act in 1973 o Act formed the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission which was charged with preserving agricultural land from urban encroachment and encouraging farm businesses Climatic Zones  2 climatic zones: the Cordillera and the Pacific  Extremely high elevation in the Coast Mountains results in fewmoist pacific air masses reaching the interior plateau; heavy orographic rain occurs along the western slopes of the insular and coast mountains (2000 mm annually); while interior plateau receives very little (less than 400 mm annually)  In Thompson valley and Okanagan valley of interior plateau, hot, dry conditions result in an arid climate with sagebrush in the valleys and ponderosa pines on the valley slopes  Most the rain falls in the winter; Pineapple Express (originates over the warm waters around Hawaii) brings torrential rains but also relatively warm weather in the winter months, while those inland receive heavy snowfalls  Eastward moving air masses must rise above the insular mountains and the coast mountains, so orographic rainfall happens frequently along with frontal precipitation which gives the west coast a high level of annual precipitation  Cordillera climatic zone consists of a number of microclimates; they are controlled by change sin elevation, latitude, variation in topography from mountain ranges to plateaus, and distance from pacific ocean to rocky mountains; this all affects vegetation and soil conditions within these microclimates  Areas become drier as distance increases from pacific ocean and cooler as either elevation or latitude increases Natural Vegetation Zones  Along the west coast, the mild and moist climate encourages rainforests; lush, green evergreen and deciduous trees such as Western hemlock, Douglas Fir, western red cedar, and stika spruce; this vegetation has much podzolic soil which are strongly acidic and low in plant nutrients so farmers use fertilizers to help Environmental Challenges  Human activities have led to resource loss, environmental degredation, and land use conflicts; without sustainable resource use the future of BCs natural resources is not bright o One challenge is clear cutting of the forest; used to wipe out huge areas of tree covered land, now there are restrictions to 40-60 hectares of land allowed to be clear cut at a time; alternative to clear cutting is selective cutting but it is claimed that it is too expensive and would not allow them to compete in world markets o Clear cutting extended right to the banks of streams and rivers, leaving surrounding land vulnerable to rapid soil erosion and stream sedimentation  Under such conditions, fish habitat is damaged and spawning grounds may be destroyed; reducing the salmon run because parts of the Nass river have been damaged o Changing weather patterns have the chief natural challenge; exceptionally dry summers over the last 7 years have resulted in vast forest fires o Another impact is the destruction caused by pine beetles on the lodge pole and ponderosa pine trees in the interior forest; No way to stop the spread of pine beetles; the beetles spend the winter under the bark, feeding on the tree, then the beetle emerges and finds another host to feast on; logging activities are accelerating to salvage these trees because it doesn’t effect their strength, gluing characteristics, or its ability to be finished; much of this logging done means more timber for sawmills now, but the huge areas being wiped out means a shortage for the future o Why is this beetle so active? In the past, the cold winters kept the beetle under control, but the milder winters recently have made them multiple and spread; if the winters continue to be mild, the beetle will spread across all the boreal forests, which has already been shown in Alberta o Trying to use the dead trees to fuel them for electricity for localelectric generators British Columbia’s HistoricalGeography  In the early 19 century, the North West company established a series of fur0trading posts along the Columbia river; Simon Fraser explored the interior of BC; the company also had to develop a working relationship with local Indian tribes based on bartering manufactured goods for furs  Hudson Bay Company and North West company were rivals but merged, and HBC took charge of the Oregon territory  Late 19 century dispute over the Alaskan Panhandle boundary and access to Dawson City and the Klondike Goldrush  Goldrush in 1858 brought about 25000 people from California to Fraser river Confederation  Canadian Pacific Railway was the first expression of national policy (Ottawa adopting British strategy to lure BC into the national fabric) o Ottawa promised to build a railway to the Pacific Ocean within 10 years after BC joined confederation  In 1871 BC chose to become province of Canada, but had to wait 14 years for the railway o Started with pop. Of 36,247 Post- Confederation Growth  In 1885 (when railway was finished) was when BC truly became part of the Dominion and BCs role as a gateway to the world began  Main line in railway and its many branch lines were responsible for the formation of many of the province’s towns/cities and for providing access to its forest and mineral wealth  After completion of railway in 1885, Vancouver began to grow quickly and soon became the major centre on the west coast  By twentieth century Vancouver had become one of Canada’smajor ports (possible to tap the vast natural resources of BC and ship them to world markets) o Ice free harbor; natural transportation link to Pacific nations  By 1921 population exploded and there were over half a million people; European and Asian immigrants began to increase; at the same time a combo of disease and social dislocation cause the number of Aboriginal people to decline sharply  Great depression of the 1930s cause the province’s economy to stall and unemployment to rise sharply; economic disaster 1929; exports of Canadian product form BC slowed and prices dropped World War 2 ad the Post War Economic Boom  World war II called for full production in Canada, which allowed the economy to rise in BC; military production expanded BCs industrial output; resource industries based on forestry and mining (especially coal and copper) producing at full capacity  World demand allowed federal gov’ts to focus their efforts on developing the resources of its hinterland, the central interior of BC o First was to create transportation system from Vancouver to Prince George; Pacific Great Eastern Railway opened the country, allowed for exports to foreign markets and triggered economic growth  In BCs export-oriented economy, it is usually much less expensive to ship raw material than finished product; this led to trade focused on resources British Columbia Today  Increase in innovative industries, international trade, filmmaking (all these have led to increase in many jobs)  Tourism huge in BC because of its physical geography o Inland passage big tourist attraction; popular route for cruise ships heading to Alaska; Whistler and 2010 Olympics major attractions; Vancouver known as “Hollywood north” because of the filmmaking  High technology industries (manufacturing and service) have the biggest impact on the economy; example include telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and scientific instruments Economic Structure  Core or periphery? Manufacturing sector small compared to that of Quebec and Ontario therefore not a core yet.  In primary sector, technical advances in oil and gas operations permit horizontal drilling (recently developed technology used for drilling oil and gas, as opposed to vertical oil and gasdrilling, which has existed for a long time) which, when combined with hydraulic fracturing (method used to fracture rock formations in order to allow oil or natural gas to flow from impervious geological strata), has unlocked natural gas deposits form the Horn River shale formation in the Interior Plains of northeast BC  Construction boom with 2010 Olympics, Sea to sky Highway, and Canada line (rapid transit facility); once these were completed, construction declined sharply  BC no longer seen as resource based economy, but natural resources (gas and forest esp.) provide much of BCs wealth generated by the economy;  Bcs exports exhibit one of the classic characteristics of a resource hinterland: close to 90% of its resource exports are either unprocessed or semi processed goods; coal, lumber, and natural gas are the three leading exports and they fall into that category  Producer services: services that enabled firms and regions to maintain their specialized rolesin marketing, advertising, administration, finance, and insurance industries. Producer services are on of the several parts of the growing service sector of the economy British Columbia’s Wealth  Economic prosperity rests on two economic pillars: its geographic location as Canada’s trade window to the Pacific and its natural resources o Key exports are commodities—forest and energy products from BC; coal, grain, and potash from Western Ca
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