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Eastern provinces of Canada

New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Québec, St Pierre & Miquelon (to France).


Colonized by both the English and the French during the 16th century, Canada’s eastern provinces are still marked by their dual influences. They contain the last fragment of once-sizeable French territories, the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. French remains Canada’s second official language and Québec’s first language. The population of the eastern provinces is highly concentrated in the south, especially along the border with the US.

A recent decline in fishing in the Atlantic provinces has encouraged a steady flow of westerly migration to more prosperous regions. The north, around Hudson Bay, remains snow-covered for most of the year and the indigenous Inuit people make up the bulk of its sparse population.

The landscape of the eastern Canadian provinces

Much of eastern Canada is part of the Canadian Shield. Glaciers have scoured the land leaving deposits that have dammed and diverted streams, to create a rocky landscape strewn with lakes and swamps. Much of the ground is subject to permafrost, which further impedes drainage. The uplands in the far east are the most northerly extension of the Appalachian mountain chain.

Interesting facts of the eastern Canadian provinces

  • The Péninsule d’Ungava is littered with erratics – isolated rocks which were carried by glaciers and deposited away from their place of origin when the glacier melted.
  • Labrador’s indented coast is a product of past glaciations, which caused sea level change, and wave erosion. There are countless offshore islands, fjords, and exposed headlands.
  • Lake Superior is the world’s largest expanse of fresh water, covering 83,270 sq km (32,150 sq miles). It is crossed by the Canada–US border.
  • The forested Laurentides Park incorporates part of the Laurentian Mountains. Within its boundaries are over 1600 lakes.
  • The eroded highlands of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland are part of the Appalachian mountain chain, formed over 400 million years ago.
  • At the Bay of Fundy, incoming waves are funneled down the long, narrow, steep-sided bay. These topographical features cause fast-flowing tides which can rise 21 m (70 ft).
  • The tides at the Bay of Fundy are among the highest in the world. At low tide the tree-topped rocks have been likened to flowerpots.

Transportation & industry in the eastern Canadian provinces

Both Québec and Ontario have a diversified manufacturing sector located in the south. Across the rest of the region, industry is largely based around local resources, which accounts for the large number of fish and timber processing plants and mines. Many of the fast-flowing rivers are also gradually being harnessed for hydroelectric power.

Using the land & sea in the eastern Canadian provinces

With thin soils restricting farming to the south, the forests that grow in vast unbroken tracts across eastern Canada provide an essential source of revenue. Coastal communities rely heavily on the rich fishing grounds of the Atlantic Ocean, although foreign competition and overfishing have resulted in strict policies to conserve stocks.

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