The Canadian Shield


The Pacific Coast
The Cordillera
The Prairies
The Canadian Shield
The Great Lakes
The Appalachian Region
The Arctic
Geography and identity









A huge inland sea called Hudson Bay extends into the heart of Canada, and wrapped around this bay is a rocky region called the Canadian Shield. Canada's largest geographical feature, it stretches east to Labrador, south to Kingston on Lake Ontario and northwest as far as the Arctic Ocean. The Shield is considered to be the nucleus of the North American continent. Its gneiss and granite rocks are 3.5 billion years old, three-quarters the age of the Earth.


The region is a storehouse of minerals, including gold, silver, zinc, copper and uranium. The mineral resources found in the Shield are predominantly metallic minerals such as iron, silver, copper, gold, nickel, niobium and zinc, and industrial minerals such as graphite, dolomite, mica and ilmenite.


10 Key Facts on the Mineral and Metals sector


Canadian Mineral production


Annual Statistics on Mineral Trade















Scraped by the advance and retreat of glaciers, the Shield has only a thin layer of soil that can support forests only. In the south, near the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region, the temperate forests are a mix of evergreens, birch and maple. Spanning the entire country north of the Prairies and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region is the boreal forest of spruce, fir and pine. The Boreal Forest is usually snow-covered more than half the year; its "summer" - the frost-free period - lasts barely two months.


The Boreal Forest circles the northern portion of the globe and is found in Russia, Canada and Alaska and Scandinavia. Canada's Boreal Forest is one of the largest intact forest ecosystems remaining on earth (over 1 billion acres). It is home to the world's largest caribou herds, and large populations of wolves and bears. The Boreal is nesting ground for almost 300 different species of birds.




Canada's Boreal forests are being clearcut to create building materials and consumer products like toilet paper, office paper, books, and catalogues.The logging industry cuts down over 290,000 hectares of forest in Quebec, 185,000 hectares in Ontario and 67,000 hectares of forest in Alberta every year. Individual clearcuts sometimes extending over 10,000 hectares in size.


A disappearing forest means increased threats to the survival of the species that inhabit it. Already, the Labrador marten, wolverine, woodland caribou, eastern wolf are listed on endangered species lists.


Climate change is another real threat to Canada's Boreal forest. Scientists predict that parts of the forest will become much warmer because of climate change. This will mean increased forest fires and insect outbreaks.



The landscapes of the Canadian Shield - forests and lakes - inspired many paintings by the Group of Seven, which sought to express the true Canadian aesthetics through a depiction of the rugged northern landscape.