Geo Notes – Oct/12
- Ontario remains the heartland of Canada’s manufacturing, despite the recent economic downturn. Two key
components of Ontario’s economy are forestry and manufacturing. They are stalled in the old economy and
need two things – 1) fresh directions and investments to get back into the economy, 2) recovery of the US
economy and the resumption of high levels of exports to the US. The worst part of the economic decline was
in 2008 with the collapse of two principal automobile manufacturers – Chrysler and General Motors. In
2009, Ontario received equalization payments for the first time, making it a have-not province. In 2006, ON
contributed 39% of Canada’s GDP. GDP is an estimate of the total value of all materials, foodstuffs, goods,
and services produced by a country or province in a particular year. This number dropped in 2008. People
have also been leaving ON for other provinces. Exports from ON to the US have dropped a lot. There is no
longer an open border, making cross-border manufacturing more expensive. Also, the US implemented the
buy America policy in 2009, which was not good for ON. Perhaps ON relied too much on continentalist trade.
Western provinces have outpaced the economic and population growth of ON. In the past, ON and the US
traded a lot (1965 Auto Pact and NAFTA in 1994). While ON has economic challenges, it still has many
strengths – its central location within Canada and North America, its large population/market, its natural
resources, and its cities and universities. ON will continue to be the leading manufacturing area in Canada.
- Dutch disease: A theory describing the apparent relationship within a country between its expanding energy
resource sector and a subsequent decline in the manufacturing sector. This has happened in Canada. This
explains why a rapidly expanding oil resource in AB can increase Canada’s exchange rates and make the
price of its manufactured goods more expensive in the US.
- Four natural resources (agriculture, forests, minerals, water) helped with Ontario’s economic development
in the past. The processing of these products created a strong industrial base and rapid population growth.
The great lakes provided low-cost water transportation and Niagara falls provided low-cost hydroelectric
- ON faces three challenges today – 1) Energy – ON requires more energy, but the cost of energy has
increased. 2) Manufacturing sector – Canada has competition from countries with lower labour costs. 3)
Forest industry – Affects northern ON.
- ON has the largest population. Its large market is able to support the arts, professional sports, and
- Ontario’s economic future depends on expanding trade with the US. Both the provincial and federal
governments have invested money in strengthening the automobile manufacturing industry. Despite the
current economic difficulties, ON will remain Canada’s industrial core. The net interprovincial migration
numbers indicate a continuation of the shift of economic and demographic power to the west, but this is not
the end of Ontario’s dominant position. NIM is the net migration by provinces determine by the number of
people arriving and leaving each province as permanent residents.
- Ontario’s physical geography: Three of Canada’s physiographic regions are located within ON – great lakes-
st. Lawrence lowlands, Canadian shield, and Hudson bay lowland. Three climatic zones are located within ON – arctic, subarctic, and great lakes-st. Lawrence. ON is divided into two sub-regions – northern and
southern ON. Northern ON consists of the Canadian shield and Hudson bay lowland, while southern ON
consists of the great lakes-st. Lawrence lowlands. Each sub-region also has different economies – northern
ON is a resource hinterland and southern ON is an agricultural-industrial core. The subarctic climate of N.
ON has longer and colder winters and shorter and cooler summers than S. ON. Climate, soils, and
physiography combined limit agriculture in N. ON. Northern Ontario’s economic development is dependent
on forestry, tourism, and mining. S. ON has long, hot, humid summers, warm autumns, short and cold
winters, and cool springs. Annual precipitation is about 1000mm. S. ON is the most favoured physical area in
Canada and 93% of Canada’s population lives here. The Niagara escarpment is an erosional remnant of
sedimentary rock. Prior to settlement, mixed forest vegetation was present in this temperate continental
climate. The S. ON lowland has the most productive agricultural lands in Canada because of its long growing
season, ample precipitation, and fertile soils.
- Climate and agriculture: Southern Ontario’s climate is dominated by long, warm summers. Tropical air
masses from the gulf of Mexico extend over this area. In winter, occasional invasions of arctic air masses
bring cold weather. Areas close to the great lakes receive more precipitation because air masses absorb
moisture from the surface of the lakes. Warm, moist air masses from the gulf of Mexico provide most of the
moisture for the region, and this falls as convectional and frontal precipitation. S. ON has good agricultural
land because of its mild climate and fertile soils. Grain corn, soybeans, sugar beets, fruits, grapes, and
vegetables are grown here. Agricultural land use varies within S. ON. Soils are less fertile and growing
season is shorter east of Toronto than southwest of Toronto. There are three highly specialized agriculture
zones west of Toronto – the Essex-Kent vegetable area, the Norfolk tobacco belt, and the Niagara fruit belt.
The expansion of cities in S. ON has spread into these farmlands. Despite being at 43ᵒN, the Niagara fruit belt
does not have to worry about frost for several reasons – Air drainage from the Niagara escarpment to lake
Ontario reduces the danger of spring and fall frosts. Lake Ontario water is warm in autumn and this helps
moderate advancing cold air masses. The cool waters of lake Ontario in early spring keep air temperatures
low, which helps delay the opening of fruit blossoms.
- Environmental challenges: ON faces two major environmental challenges – air pollution and water pollution.
This pollution represents the hidden costs of our industrial world. Air pollution is any chemical, physical, or
biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. Sustainable development
technology Canada is a foundation created by the Canadian government to support the development and
demonstration of clean technologies, which are solutions that address issues of clean air, greenhouse gases,
clean water, and clean soil to deliver environment, economic, and health benefits to Canadians. Smog is a
health problem in the summer and is a visible form of air pollution. Most pollution comes from car exhaust
and coal-burning thermoelectric plants. But ON does not want to stop electric production from the
remaining coal plants until clean-air energy production is in place, and their construction will take time.
Industrial waste, farm chemicals, and livestock waste are the main causes of water pollution. The great lakes
are especially affected. The great lakes water quality agreement was signed in 1972 to express the
commitment of Canada and the US to restore and maintain the integrity of the great lakes basin. Industrial
discharge of pollutants remains a problem. Increasing levels of phosphorous are contributing to the creation
of green slime, which is a dead zone where only toxic organisms can survive. The introduction of exotic
species is reducing the numbers of natural species and changing the great lakes ecosystem.
- Ontario’s historical geography: When the American revolution began in 1775, ON was a densely forested
wilderness inhabited by a few fur traders and Indians. After losing American coloni