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Southeastern Canada

Southern Ontario, Southern Québec.


The southern parts of Québec and Ontario form the economic heart of Canada. The two provinces are divided by their language and culture; in Québec, French is the main language, whereas English is spoken in Ontario. Separatist sentiment in Québec has led to a provincial referendum on the question of a sovereignty association with Canada.

The region contains Canada’s capital, Ottawa, and its two largest cities: Toronto, the center of commerce, and Montréal, the cultural and administrative heart of French Canada.

The landscape of the Southeastern Canada

The heart of southeastern Canada is the lowland area surrounding the St. Lawrence River, the principal outlet for the Great Lakes. The lowlands are bordered to the east by an extension of the Appalachian mountain chain and to the north by the Canadian Shield. The Champlain Sea, which flooded the area during the last glacial period, deposited clay over much of the area.

Interesting facts of the Southeastern Canada

  • Niagara Falls lies on the border between Canada and the US. It comprises a system of two falls: American Falls, in New York, is separated from Horseshoe Falls, in Ontario, by Goat Island. Horseshoe Falls, seen here, plunges 56 m (184 ft) and is 762 m (2500 ft) wide.
  • The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 finally allowed oceangoing ships (up to 24,000 tons) access to the interior of Canada, creating a vital trading route.
  • The port at Montréal is situated on the St. Lawrence Seaway. A network of 16 locks allows oceangoing vessels access to routes once plied by fur-trappers and early settlers.
  • Montréal, on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, is Québec’s leading metropolitan center and one of Canada’s two largest cities – Toronto is the other. Montréal clearly reflects French culture and traditions.
  • Pumpkins are just one of the crops grown in the Niagara “fruit belt.” The mild climate, moderated by the lakes, allows the cultivation of a wide range of fruit and vegetables, including cherries, apples, peaches, grapes, and asparagus. Fruit and vegetable growing is confined to southern Canada, due to the colder climate and short growing season of the northern regions.
  • Point Pelee is a world- famous site for bird migration. Over 250 species of bird have been sighted on the sandspit which forms the southern tip of the Canadian mainland.
  • The Great Lakes moderate the climate of the area surrounding the St. Lawrence River. Their water, which cools more slowly than the land, acts as a reservoir for warmth, extending the growing season into the early fall.
  • Mount Royal, around which the city of Montréal has developed, is the result of an igneous intrusion which occurred between 135 and 65 million years ago.
  • In the lowlands around the St. Lawrence, earthflows have developed along gentle river banks where sand overlies clay, making the surface layers very unstable. When the slope’s natural equilibrium is disturbed, an earthflow can occur.

Transportation & industry in Southeastern Canada

The cities of southern Québec and Ontario, and their hinterlands, form the heart of Canadian manufacturing industry. Toronto is Canada’s leading financial center, and Ontario’s motor and aerospace industries have developed around the city. A major center for nickel mining lies to the north of Toronto. Most of Québec’s industry is located in Montréal, the oldest port in North America. Chemicals, paper manufacture, and the construction of transportation equipment are leading industrial activities.

Using the land & sea in Southeastern Canada

The productive Niagara "fruit belt" on the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario is a central farming region, although available farmland is being challenged by urban expansion. Québec is Canada’s leading producer of maple syrup and dairy products. In the north, farmland gives way to extensive areas of forest, partly used for commercial logging. Fishing occurs in Atlantic waters and the Great Lakes.

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