Water features and soils in Canada

In the 1960s, oil was discovered off the coast of Newfoundland in the Grand Banks. This created a new industry for the province and brought in a great deal of money. However, it also had negative environmental consequences. The massive platforms and oil rigs disrupted marine life and polluted the water with chemicals. Several spills have been over the years, further damaging the delicate ecosystem. Now that the oil reserves are dwindling, there is a move to focus on renewable energy sources such as wind power. This will help protect the environment while providing jobs and economic stability for Newfoundland.

The Saint Lawrence River

St. Lawrence is a 2,342-kilometre waterway connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s one of Canada’s busiest waterways, handling about 25% of world maritime trade. More than 7,000 commercial vessels daily transport nearly 100 million tonnes of cargo along the river. The enormous volume of water that flows through St. Lawrence gives it tremendous hydroelectric power potential. There are currently 33 active hydroelectric plants operating on the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries. They have a combined capacity to generate nearly 6,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity – enough to power more than 3 million homes! These plants make up almost 40% of all hydroelectric facilities in Quebec and account for approximately 10% of total hydropower generation in Canada.

The Fraser River is one of Canada’s great waterways. It runs through the province of British Columbia, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The river is named after Simon Fraser, who explored it in 1808. The Fraser River is an essential source of hydroelectric power and supplies water to millions of people. The river is also home to a large number of fish, including salmon and sturgeon. Aquatic birds such as herons and bald eagles can be found along the river, while ospreys nest on its banks.

Canada has a great diversity of soils because of the wide range in age and composition of the bedrock, the nature of the surficial deposits, and the climate. Bedrock in Canada ranges from Precambrian Shield rocks more than four billion years old to sedimentary rocks deposited in the past few million years. The Shield is particularly rich in metals such as nickel, gold, copper, and uranium, which have been mined extensively. Surficial deposits include materials left behind by glaciers (till or sand and gravel), materials weathered from bedrock (soil), organic matter (peat), and wind-blown materials (sand). Climate plays a vital role in shaping soils. For example, podzols form under acidic conditions found where coniferous forests grow on coarse sediments derived from granite or quartzite; calcareous soils form where limestone is close to the surface; solonetzic soils are common on the Prairies where annual precipitation is high, but evaporation rates can be very high; rendzinas occur in humid climates on thin overlays of limestone; chernozems are highly productive grassland soils that develop under cool climatic conditions with moderate rainfall, and luvisols are forested areas also tend to have darker colored soils.


Water features and soils are an important part of the Canadian landscape. They provide us with food, water, and a place to live. They also play a role in the country’s economy. Water features and soils are valuable resources that should be protected and managed in a sustainable way.