Canadia Heartland

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2000

7 Pages

Free online reading

List of Contents:

1. Definition

2. Québec - the eastern section

3. Ontario - the western section

4. Conclusion

5. Vocabulary

6. Sources


,,Canadian Heartland" is a term for the Great Lakes-St. Laurence region. It is the part of the continental core that lies in Canada and stretches from the City of Québec in the south-west to Windsor on the south-western peak of the Ontario Peninsula. That is one reason the area is sometimes called ,,Québec-Windsor-Axis". It is bordered by Lake Erie and Lake Ontario as well as the St. Laurence River in the south, which is partial the international border as well and by the edge of the Canadian Shield (also called Laurentian Shield) in the north. The region itself can be divided up into two subsections which are separated by the Ottawa River, which is also the state border of Ontario and Québec. The focus of the western part, also known as ,,West Axis" is Toronto and the residents are English- speaking, whereas the eastern part, known as ,,East Axis" is focused on Montréal, these inhabitants speak French.

Québec - the eastern section:


The name Québec originated from the Indian word ,,kebec" which means ,,unification of water".


Québec is a distinct small spot. 80% of its inhabitants speak French, different from 265 million English-speaking people on the North-American continent. The population concentrates in the area along the St. Laurence river, this is the heart of French Canada. Towards the north the population density decreases rapidly reaching the plateau surface of the Canadian Shield, in the west the area is bordered by the St. Laurence and Ottawa Valleys, but it spreads southern across the St. Laurence Valley and ends suddenly in front of the Adirondack Mountains in New England. The only link are the Champlain Lowlands. Towards east the settlements become more rare as the river widens into the Gulf of St. Laurence, only a little stripe of fishing villages joins Québec with Newfoundland, New Brunswick, St. Edward's Island and Nova Scotia. The lowlands stretch 192 km at most.

Climate and its Consequences

In some spots the inhabitants have to withstand severe winters with heavy snowfall (about 2.5m annual). In Québec there are 17 weeks of snow and 245 days below 0°C. Also frequent weather changes don't help to make life easier. However, most of the valley receives about 90 cm of precipitation throughout the year. The January mean temperature is -10°C in Montréal, -12°C in Québec and -18°C in the Laurentide Mountains. The St. Laurence River is usually closed down for ship traffic from December to April. Montréal has an average temperature of 21°C in July. The freezing winters cause restrict winter employment opportunities. The difficult climate caused the Montréal inhabitants to build an underground shopping city.

History and Settlement

The today French part of Canada was the basic and only population in Canada for 2 centuries, from there the pioneers went westwards. Today in this area lives ¼ of Canada's people. It has one of the two largest cities and the busiest airport, the St. Laurence as a major transport waterway enable to trade. The soils have a very good quality in the Champlain Lowlands as well as along the banks of the St. Laurence as a result of maritime sediments in postglacial times, when all these lowlands were flooded known as the Champlain Sea. The whole land was fertile and ideal for settlements. By the end of the French rule in 1763 the people had created a landscape still visible today. Witnesses are all the French names of towns and rivers. This land with its rural settlement pattern became lower Canada first and later in 1867 the province of Québec. Québec city was founded by Samuel Champlain (after whom the Champlain Lowlands are named) in 1608. First the city existed on an agricultural basis, later the fur trade became more important. From here the people went westwards to explore the rest of Canada and mixed the French culture with Indian ways of life. In 1670 the French sovereignty was proclaimed and 12 years later La Salle followed the Mississippi to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico and claimed Louisiana for the King of France. The 3000 people began to spread along the tributaries of the St. Laurence. The reasons were that closeness to the rivers provided fish and that the land real close to the rivers was not forested. The land was divided up into so-called long lots. Those long lots had their houses close to the water and their farm land behind. As the population increased the lots were divided up and later a second row of long lots had to be deforested. This system survived till today. One of the reasons that France lost Canada to the British was their agricultural weakness. ,,France could scarcely withstand an opponent [New England] upon whom she continuously relied for foodstuff."1 In 1763 when the French rule ended the settlement was still limited to the banks of the St. Laurence and its tributaries.

Under British rule in the early 19th century the settlement was expanded into the lowland south of St. Laurence and east of the Richelieu River. Those settlements are today called ,,Eastern Townships". They inhabitants were mostly British, then more and more French lived there. Today it is mostly French. When the population increased, the people went up north onto the Laurentian Plateau, east along the St. Laurence into New Brunswick but most of them south into the US due to the agricultural weakness. Another pull factor was the progress of the industrial revolution in New England, where textile manufacturing industries were improved, so that more unskilled labor was needed. The people from New England went to look for skilled jobs in other towns.

Today the modern agriculture produces mainly dairy products, a little hay and crops, although most of the farmers have an extra job next to farming.

Power and Industry

In the St. Laurence Valley there are neither coal nor petroleum resources. Until a few years ago asbestos was mined. Another industry of the past is iron ore. There were bodies of iron ore running from southwest to northeast of Québec. The iron ore was mainly mined in Scheffersville which is at the border to Labrador. From here it was transported to Sept Iles by train. The iron ore industry was closed down in 1989 due to the fall off in American steel production. Today the main industry is hydroelectricity. These industries are located near the St. Laurence and its tributaries Saguenay, St. Maurice, Ottawa and Gattineau. Another important factor is the St. Laurence river as transport road for goods that enter and leave Canada's eastern side. Here the main ports are Montréal itself, Québec City, Sept Iles, Port Cartier and Baie Comeau. Around Montréal a huge part of the industry is textile based. Also Montréal refines gas. Due to the large timber resources in Canada pulp and paper is manufactured and imported into the US. Although there is no bauxite in Canada, it is imported to produce aluminum. It is a good location to smelt aluminum, as the cheap hydroelectricity does not have to be transported long ways. The two economic weaknesses are the lack of innovative industries and the reliance on the textile industry. As today most of the clothing is manufactured in countries with a lower wage level, the competition is a serious danger. Montréal outstripped Québec City as an industrial capital, now Québec is the political and cultural center of the province. Its harbor is only used in winter when the St. Laurence is frozen further upstream. Montréal has a strategic good position, because northwest of the city there is Ottawa, the federal capital of Ontario; south of Montréal the Hudson River leads to New York and eastwards as well as westwards the St. Laurence leads to the Atlantic Ocean resp. to the Great Lakes area. Since a few years the question has come up what would happen if Québec was independent. It is a fact that the economy would not be able to bear the new situation, ,,as the economy of the present province Québec is far from buoyant."2

Ontario - the western section:

Settlement and Land Use

This land was settled later than the eastern section. The settlement began after the American Independence from Great Britain in 1776. At that time France had already been in Canada for 170 years. The Canadians feared the power of the young US republic in the south, as some loyalists who refused to be American had already moved up north around the Great Lakes. In 1791 Upper Canada (the name of the region in that time) established their own government, Upper and Lower Canada united to one state in 1848. At the time of the unification, there had already come so many immigrants from Scotland and Ireland, accelerated by Sir Alexander Galt, that the two sections had an equal amount of inhabitants. But the people in Upper Canada spoke English, whereas the people in Lower Canada spoke French. That caused that not only laws and costumes differed, but also the settlement pattern. While in Lower Canada the long lots system prevailed, people settled in gridirons in the upper part mostly between the Great Lakes. The system changed from linear to areal development. The small towns and crossroads system that originated from this gridirons settlement also developed in the US- Midwest. Agriculture on the Ontario Peninsula was productive and had a good quality, because the soil was fertile and the products were sold or used where they were grown. The area was agriculturally self-contained.

Manufacturing in Southern Ontario

The industry of Southern Ontario depends on the one hand on the natural resources of the region, such as forests and farmland, on the other hand on the international boundary in the south. If Canada and the USA had become one country, or the boundary ran somewhere else, there would not be the duplication of industry, which means that every branch of industry is once on the US side of the Great Lakes and once on the Canadian side. That happened because Canada established her own factories in order not to be dependent on the US. These duplicate firms are very beneficial to Southern Ontario, as the industries flourish because there is a steady demand for the products and a high investment and employment helps the Ontario economy. From an early commerce of wheat and timber export via ship, the area developed a lot quicker than its neighbor. By 1880, southern Ontario had outstripped Québec in industrial employment. The energy needed for the factories was gained by Appalachian coal, until the turn of the century brought hydroelectricity. Still today the coal is needed for the steel industry. The coalfield lies 150 km south of Hamilton, which produces steel. Hamilton has 600,000 inhabitants and lies 64 km south of Toronto. The other towns also started to specialize early: Sarnia and Petrolia developed as oil refining and petrochemical complex. In 1857 James Miller Williams was the first to drill for oil. It was the first commercial source of oil in North America. Windsor produces cars, which is because of its location close to Detroit, today Windsor is rivaled by Oshawa near Toronto; London and Kitchener manufacture machinery, rubber goods and household equipment. Toronto participates in the manufacturing industry, it employs ¼ of Canada's total industrial labor force. And in former times Ontario benefited from the skills of all the immigrants coming from different countries and cultures. Industry and urbanization of southern Ontario are mirror images of the northern United States. And Toronto as the focus of Ontario's urbanization belongs to the set of big cities; it started with an anchorage, a trading post and a fort and grew with the construction of canals and railways. The first railway connected La Prairie with Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu over a distance of 23 km and was opened on July 21st, 1836. First the city had a distinct British flair, visitors called it one of the most British cities in the world. The population had not been influenced by the French-Canadian or other European elements. Due to the wave of immigration after World War II, which was mainly non-British, the city converted into a cosmopolitan city. The financial section grew as well as the port. By 1991 the city had nearly 4 million inhabitants. Traffic through the Great Lakes uses the Niagara River as well as the Welland Canal running parallel. Eastwards the route reaches the Hudson River and New York through the Mohawk Valley. The heart of the region is found next to its major resource: the power of the Niagara Falls, which is used by both the US and Canada. From the Niagara Falls to Toronto nearly the entire shoreline is urbanized and industrialized.


Does Canada have one core or two? The two regions are as different as they can be. Ontario has been catching up on Québec ever since people started to settle in this region. Ontario and Toronto are situated closer to the heart of the continent and the major markets than Québec and Montréal. The population of the western section has grown bigger and the manufacturing clearly has become more than the east. Toronto is far ahead in manufacturing, service industries and resource-based development. In the financial sector, as an exception, the two towns are nearly equal, Montréal's trust and holding companies even exceed those of Toronto. But the life insurance companies are basically all located in Toronto. After World War II the financial situation reversed; in 1970 the ratio of financial strength was Toronto 3:2 Montréal. The power has been shifting for a whole century. The fact that keeps alive the rivalry between the cities are the cultural and political differences of the English-speaking section and the French-speaking section. There are two different economies, one the western one and one the eastern one, just like there are two plants of each industry, one in the US and one in Canada. French Canada does not want to belong to the economy, that is the reason why.

In the whole region there live ½ of Canada's whole population, it is the location of ¾ of the Canadian industry. And that the region is inhabited by two cultural groups and still work together is a wonder. ,,Although Ontario and Québec are sharply divided on cultural and linguistic grounds, they

continue to function as a single economic region Each [Ontario and

Québec] is the best customer of the other."3


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


DeWiel, Frederik: ,,DuMont Kultur- und Landschaftsführer Kanada", Köln, DuMont Buchverlag, 1994, S. 133

Diercke Weltatlas, hrsg. von der Westermann Kartographie/Dr. Ulf Zahn, dritte Auflage; Braunschweig, Westermann Schulbuchverlag GmbH, 1992; S. 184-195

Keller, Will: ,,Merian - Kanada: Quebec", Heft 5/78, Hamburg, Hoffmann & Campe Verlag, 1978, S. 20-25, 27, 108-109, 140, 142

Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, English Version, 1998; keywords: Canada; Natural Regions

Paterson, J. H.: ,,North America - A Geograpthy of the United States and Canada", ninth edition; New York, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1994; pp. 9-10, 251-267

Schreiber, Hermann: ,,Geo spezial - Kanada", Heft 6, Hamburg, Verlag Gruner & Jahr, 1988, S. 78-81,191


1 Paterson, J.H.: "North America ...", p. 256

2 Paterson, J.H.: "North America ..." p. 262

3 Paterson, J. H.: "North America ..." p. 267

7 of 7 pages


Canadia Heartland
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Canadia, Heartland
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Dagmar Ring (Author), 2000, Canadia Heartland, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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