Canadian Prairies Geography

  1. Western Canada
    • Alberta Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the 3 political boundaries
    • 2 subregions: interior plains (populated agricultural/industrial) and Shield (Metis and Aboriginal)
  2. Pairies Location in Canada
    dry region with significant distance to trading partners
  3. Western Canada exports
    grain, forest products, energy, potash, and canola
  4. Unit Trains
    150 specialized train cars (for coal or potash) driven by 1 or 2 diesel engines
  5. Pairies Econ in Canada
    leading provinces in economic and population growth with low levels of unemployment and lots of job opportunities
  6. Cordillera
    • eastern Rocky Mountains in Alberta
    • logging and mining
    • Banff and Jasper National Parks (vacationing and tourism)
  7. Interior Plains
    • sedimentary rock with fossil fuels
    • by value: oil, gas, coal, potash
  8. Canadian Shield in the Western Provinces
    • bare rocks exposed on the surface of the land
    • Northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan
    • some logging, mostly mining and hydro, uranium mining
  9. Western Canada Economic Structure
    • predominately primary sector driven (5x that of Ontario)
    • primary is declining, like the rest of Canada, and tertiary stayed the same
    • secondary sector increased due to construction and specialized manufacturing to support primary industry
  10. History of Agriculture in Western Canada
    this region was settled for the purpose of agricultural development, but economy is now focused on resource extraction
  11. Changing Agriculture in Western Canada
    • larger farms, fewer farmers, and older farmers
    • new technology
    • decreasing populations in rural towns
    • marketing of grain by farmers vs and overseeing board
  12. Biotechnology in Western Agriculture
    • greater yields, improved farming practices, reduced disease, efficient tools
    • rapeseed -> canola
    • terminator seeds and pesticide resistant seeds from Monsanto
  13. Rise of Canadian Wheat Board
    • created because farmers pre-1930 were taken advantage of by private buyers and railways
    • the organization bought all grain, sold it at the best possible price, and made sure every farmer got a fair share
  14. Decline of Canadian Wheat Board
    • USA objected to the organization and tried to place duties on grain imports, but this was rejected under NAFTA
    • Conservative government in 2011 made selling to the board optional
    • Benefits large farmers close to the border who can easily transport grain to the States
  15. Environmental Benefits of Organic Food Production
    • reduced chemicals in food, soil, and water
    • better management of soil with more diverse crops
    • less energy cost
  16. Benefits to Farms Using Sustainable Farming
    • improved health for farm workers and food consumers
    • low tillage improves soil structure and decreases erosion
    • crop rotation reduces pests
    • diverse crops are less susceptible to market fluctuations
    • more profitable (esp when consumers will pay more for organic)
    • more productive for farms based on subsistence agriculture
  17. Subsistence Agriculture
    farmers grow enough food to feed themselves, their families, and locals with little to no surplus trade
  18. Drawbacks of Organic Farming
    • increased labour intensity
    • slightly less productive
  19. Supply and Demand of Wheat, Worldwide
    • steady increase of production as price decline from 1961 to ’97
    • production has grown slowly 2002-2008, but prices doubled
  20. Drawbacks of GMOs
    • very little testing on mid- and long-term toxicological effects on mammals
    • toxicity has been found in Monsanto corn
  21. Farmland Value in Canda
    • effected by prices for grain, oilseeds and cattle
    • in 2014, biggest increase in Saskatchewan, then QU
    • seems not to have attracted foreign investors, but has attracted corporate investors
  22. Canola
    • replaced wheat in 1995 due to drop in international wheat prices
    • necessary to rotate crops and leave some land fallow
    • able to process and refine in factories within Canada and therefore high-value for Western farmers
  23. Land Degradation
    • processes that reduce farmland productivity, sometimes reversible
    • causes: water/wind erosion, waterlogging/salinity, nutrient depletion, compaction, acidification and toxic pollution
  24. Palliser’s Triangle
    • semi-arid region in southern Albertan and Saskatchewan that was declared unfarmable by Palliser because of the dry conditions despite nutrient-rich brown and black soil
    • overgrazing turned the area into a Dust Bowl in the 30s, leading to the Great Depression
    • the Dry Belt takes up a different percentage of the area, depending on the year, conditions, and farming practices
  25. Dry Belt
    • ranching dominates this area, and wheat is grown to provide grazing
    • crop failure is high due to low and variable precipitin in the summer
    • continuous cropping, irrigation, and one-pass seeding.spraying/fertilizing help maintain soil moisture
  26. Continuous Cropping
    farmers keep short, stiff stalks of grain.hay after harvesting to protect topsoil from wind and water erosion
  27. Climate Change on the Praries
    • predicting an increase in 66% of land that will be effected by drought
    • ranching and farming in Palliser’s Triangle would become extremely difficult
    • Canada works with the UN Convention to Bombat Desertification
    • 200 thousand square kilometers at risk
  28. Creation of the Crow’s Nest Agreement
    • federal government granted the Candaian Pacific Railway land and mineral titles to help settle Western Canada
    • CPR transported grain at a lower rate in exchange for government subsidy
  29. Dissolution of the Crow’s Nest Agreement
    terminated in 1995 after complaints from railways, AB government, and the Wheat Grower’s association
  30. Cost to Farmers Post Crow’s Nest Agreement
    • railways increased cost of grain transportation x7 while price of grain has stayed constant, (from 4% to 30% of farmer’s profits)
    • rail transportation replaced with trucking, where farmers pay the higher expense
    • All regulations for balancing power and equal access are dissolving
  31. Sustainability Challenges in Western Canada
    • too many fertilizers and pesticides
    • larger and fewer farms degrades bonds in rural communities
    • minimal attention by suitcase farmers to basic ecological farming processes damages land and decreases profit
    • Lake Winnipeg is dying from nitrogen and phosphorous contamination
  32. Alberta’s Oil Resources
    • 3rd largest reserve in the world, mostly in tar sands
    • currently operating at maximum capacity for export, but efforts to build more pipelines have met significant resistance in BC and USA
    • Albertan oil sells lower than the world rate because of transportation difficulties
  33. Mining Bitumen
    • costly method of extracting crude oil from sand
    • 20% of AB resources extracted from open-pit mining
    • deeper than 75m means in-situ methods of extraction
  34. in-situ bitumen mining
    processes that separate oil from sand before extraction from deep underground
  35. cyclic steam stimulation
    • parallel lines are drilled to the bitumen, one for steam injection and one for oil extraction
    • steam is injected, the steam soaks the sand and separates the oil, then the melted bitumen is extracted
  36. Foreign investment in Western Can Oil
    • high capital and operating cost for oil sands development
    • initial capital provided by Can and American companies
    • foreign companies (esp Chinese) have purchased smaller companies
    • government mandate that future foreign investment become joint-ventures
  37. Water Usage for Bitumen Mining
    • water is taken from Athabasca River and becomes toxic
    • toxic water is stored in tailing ponds
    • water levels downstream and in Lake Athabasca fall
    • recycling water decreases water use by 40-70% for open pit and 70-90% for in-situ
  38. Economic Benefits of Western Tar Sands
    • one of the reasons Canada didn’t suffer as badly in the recession
    • predominately benefits AB, but also the rest of Canada via equipment manufacturing
  39. Environmental Destruction of Mining
    • huge detriment to amenity values (i.e. is uuuuugly)
    • emissions: carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, un-burnt hydrocarbon
    • open pits, tailing piles, tailing ponds
    • acid rain and water pollution
    • global climate change
  40. Calgary’s Urban Sprawl
    Calgary and the cities in the Calgary-Edmonton corridor have grown faster than any other city in Canada, over 25% in the last decade
  41. Western Canada Aboriginal/Non-Aboriginal Fault Line
    region with the highest proportion of Natives in Can
Card Set
Canadian Prairies Geography
geography 290, week 6, canadian Prairies