There is much to celebrate when it comes to Canada’s 150th birthday as a nation. Travel this great land and you soon come to realize that one of the most significant aspects of our country is its rich and diversified geography.
It is remarkable that a land so divided by its varied terrain has remained unified as a nation. Take a good look at Canada’s topography and you soon realize that our geographic features tend to run in north-south patterns while our political and economic ties function in an easterly-westerly manner. This has been a challenge throughout our confederation. Our geography has been a blessing and a struggle, but also an integral part of our uniqueness.
Consider the sheer size of this nation. Our country is the second largest in the world and the six time zones it encompasses are a reflection of that vastness. The geography of this land is significantly different from coast to coast. We have it all—rain forests, awe-inspiring mountain ranges, wide-open prairies, treeless tundra, barren rock, fertile farmland, picturesque valleys and rugged coastlines. In fact, Canada has more coastline than any other nation in the world (how about 243,000 km more).
Canadians can boast (but we’re too polite to do so) having more of many other natural geographic features. We have more lakes, almost two million, than anyone else and most of these are pristine in nature. Plus we have the largest source of freshwater in the world which tallies into one-seventh of the world’s supply. The Hudson Bay is the world’s largest inland sea.
Our boreal forests represent thirty per cent of what is on our planet earth. Canada has the highest tides in the world (check out the Bay of Fundy if you haven’t yet done so). And our side of the Niagara Falls is far more breath-taking than the American side. (Sorry my American friends, but it’s true.) We truly enjoy some of the most magnificent scenery in the world and it’s all right here in our own backyard. (Well, so to speak, after all, how many folks have a backyard this size?)
But our vastness and ruggedness has not always made things easy for those who first settled here and those running this nation. Sir John A. Macdonald, our country’s first prime minister, knew that people needed a physical connection to ensure that our country stay united and to remind other nations that this land belonged to Canada. What resulted was the massive and difficult undertaking of building a transcontinental railway. Building through mud-sucking muskeg which swallowed huge machinery and laying track on the sheer mountain sides of the Rockies were daunting tasks. But the promise to construct such a railway convinced British Columbia to join confederation.