The Canadian Shield, also known as the Precambrian Shield or Laurentian Plateau, covers about half of Canada as well as most of Greenland and part of the northern United States; an area of 4.4 million square kilometers.

It is so named because its outline suggests the shape of the shields carried by soldiers in the days of hand-to-hand combat.

My Business Includes....

The Canadian Shield has many natural resources that are linked to the landscape of the region. As a result, the shield has paved the way for  various business opportunities:

One of the natural resources found here are trees. Therefore, FORESTERY is a main industry in the Canadian Shield. A large part of the Canadian Shield is covered with forests. Some of the common trees in the Canadian Shield are Maple, Birch, Aspen, Fir and Spruce. Those in the forestry industry make money by chopping, transporting and processing the trees into paper and lumber. This produces many jobs for this region.

Minerals are another important natural resource in the Canadian Shield. Some of these minerals include : titanium, uranium, copper, iron, nickel, gold, zinc, silver, platinum and diamonds. This makes MINING one of the biggest industries in the Canadian Shield.  The most common place where these minerals are found is Ontario. It is one of the worlds top 10 mineral producers, shipping the minerals around the world.

HYDRO ELECTRICITY is another important industry in the Canadian Shield.  It is produced from the many running rivers in the area, as 1/3 of the Canadian Shield is covered with water. In fact, the Canadian Shield includes one of the largest electricity generating projects in Canada. One of the rivers that were used to make hydroelectricity is the La Grande River. This is part of a project called the James Bay Project. The electricity is sold to people in this region and the U.S.A. This industry provides many jobs directly and indirectly that support this region.


The Canadian Shield covers such a large area that there is a range of climates. The winter in the northern part is long and very cold (much like the Tundra region.) It gets the most snow and usually has the shortest summers with few warm days and cold nights. In the southern part, there are very cold snowy winters, while the summers are warm and long. This part of the shield gets lots of rain and snow each year.


The shield was the first part of the continent to be permanently raised above sea level. Subsequent rising and falling, folding, erosion and continental ice sheets have created its present topography. The reoccurring invasion and withdrawal of the ice sheets depressed the surface creating Hudson Bay, scraped out tens of thousands of lake basins, carried away much of the soil cover and redeposited glacial debris.

There are a number of mountain ranges within the shield: the Adirondack (northeastern New York state), Superior Highlands (northern Minnesota, Wisconsin & Michigan states), Torngat and Laurentian.

As a result, the shield is a rich source of metallic minerals such as iron, nickel, copper, zinc, uranium, gold, silver, platinum and molybdenum.

Vegetation and Soil

The current surface expression of the Shield is one of very thin soil lying on top of the bedrock, with many bare outcrops. This arrangement was caused by severe glaciation during the ice age, which covered the Shield and scraped the rock clean.

The lowlands of the Canadian Shield have very dense soil that is not suitable for forestation, but it also contains many marshes and bogs. The rest of the region has coarse soil that does not retain moisture well and is frozen as permafrost year round. Forests are not as dense in the north.

The plants of the Canadian Shield are different from the rest of plants in Canada. Mostly trees grow in the Canadian Shield. In the southern part of the Canadian Shield the forests are mixed with birch, aspen, tamarack, black and white spruce, hemlock, pine and balsam trees. As you go further south the trees get bigger and move closer together. As you go north the trees get smaller and move apart. There is a part in the far northern part of the Canadian Shield that doesn’t have any forests at all.


The Shield is composed of ancient rocks, including some that are among the oldest rocks on Earth (possibly more than 4 billion years old). The rocks are igneous (including granites, diorites and basalts) and metamorphic (including schists and marbles).

The construction of the Shield involved the collision and build-up of a large number of tectonic plates beginning more than 3 billion years ago and was largely completed by about 800 million years ago. 

One of the last major plate collisions involved in the assembly of the Canadian Shield is named the Grenville Orogeny. The collision built a gigantic mountain belt that ran northeast–southwest across eastern North America, with mountains probably rivalling the Himalayas in scale stretching across Quebec, Ontario, south of Sudbury and down the eastern half of the continent to Texas. Erosion removed some 20 km of the crust over the next few 100 million years, so that when a great invasion of the sea began about 600 million years ago the landscape was almost flat.

Canadian Shield Map

As the map shows, the Canadian Shield is the largest region in Canada. It is shaped like a saucer. It is highest along the edges and lowest in the center around Hudson’s bay.

The Canadian Shield has an area of 1.8 million square covering most of the NWT, a corner of Alberta, half of Saskatchewan, half of Manitoba, and all of Ontario and Quebec. In the north it borders along the Arctic Ocean .

Only a few people live in the northern part of the Canadian Shield. Most of the people live in the southern central part. Some of the largest cities are: Sudbury, Chicoutimi, Quebec city, Thompson Manitoba Yellow knife, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.

Human Activities

The Canadian Shield has many natural resources. The northern section of the Canadian Shield is very rocky meaning there is very little or no farmland due to this poor soil. Most people work in forestry industries. Most of the cities and towns in the Canadian Shield are close to mines and paper mills. Other people work in power stations as the Canadian Shield has many rivers that serve as dams for hydro electricity. Northern Ontario is rich in minerals such as copper, zinc, iron, gold, silver, uranium, diamonds and lead. It also has large nickel mines found in Sudbury, Ontario.

Influence of Climate Change

In Canada, scientists have been able to make some projections about how the global warming and the greenhouse gas concentrations may have its effect on the country as a whole over the next hundred years. 

In the Canadian Shield, climate change is expected to directly affect both the quantity of water available and its quality, creating competing demands for this resource from multiple sectors. This will have its impacts on hydroelectricity generation, with possible increases in Labrador and northern Quebec, and possible decreases in Ontario, the Prairies, and southeastern British Columbia.

As a result of its effect on water, climate change is expected to have a significant impact on fisheries, in Canada in general  and in the Canadian Shield in particular, affecting both the productivity of fish populations and how they are distributed throughout lakes, streams, and oceans. Changes to water temperature, currents, water quality, food supply, and predators could all have effects on fish populations.

Furthermore, and during this period, the  forests in particular could be more vulnerable to insects and diseases, fires, and competition from unwanted species, and the forestry industry will have to adapt to new climatic conditions.

Natural Disasters?


Since the Canadian Shield is mostly covered with forests, especially in the southern part, wildfire is an expected risk of the forest area, which, if happens, will remove over mature trees to clear the way for new growth. As a result, many plants will flourish in this mineral-rich soil left by fire because of the wild spread of seeds. Regardless of these fires' causes: human carelessness, an untended campfire, a cigarette, or lightning strikes, this will have its negative effects on the forestry business.


Insect infestation is also another possible risk on forests and their related businesses, especially the spruce budworm, which can cause nine times more damage than a fire.


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