Canadian Shield

                                                   By: Priyanka Khemraj

Canada is a great country with many regions. These regions offer many things to the citizens and tourists who stay there. The region that really stands out is the Canadian Shield, with all the activities that can occur like boating, fishing, cross country skiing, hunting , snowshoeing and skating. Today, I am going to be focusing on the activity of cross country skiing and the factors that contribute to making the Canadian Shield an ideal place for the this activity to occur.

Physical Features


The climate of the Canadian Shield will vary depending on the location since the region is so large. Southern Canadian Shield such as southern Ontario has a temperature average of -18 degrees celsius in the winter and 25 degrees Celsius in the summer. There is approximately 15 hours of daylight in the summer and 8.5 hours of daylight in the winter. Northern Canadian Shield such as the Northwest Territories has an average temperature of -35 degrees Celsius and 15 degrees Celsius in the summer. There is about 18.5 hours of daylight in summer and 5.5 hours of daylight in the winter. The Canadian Shield has long cold winters and short hot summers. On average, there is 1200-1500 mm of snow in winter with only 200-300 mm of rain in summer.


The Canadian Shield covers more than half of Canada which makes it the largest landform region. The Canadian Shield has very rocky surfaces. This is because millions of years ago there were mountains in the sub-region, and the mountains have eroded into hard land. The region has a lot of lakes, streams, rivers and ponds including many great lakes and waterways of Canada such as Great Bear Lake, Lake Winnipeg, Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The Shield is also very rugged with a lot of hills and mountain ranges. It also has some flatter areas as well along will gentle rolling hills. Glaciers have also added glacial deposits to the landscape such as eskers, drumlins, deposits of glacial till and other features.


The Canadian Shield has had many changes throughout history with rising, falling and erosion. These changes have cause the rocks to become some of the most stable rocks present on earth. The rocks are igneous, which are rocks that have been formed from magma cooling and hardening into rock. Some example of igneous rocks are basalts, diorites and granites. Another type of rock that can be found in the Canadian Shield are metamorphic rocks, which are igneous or sedimentary rocks that have been put under extreme heat and pressure. Some examples of metamorphic rocks are schists and marbles. Some of the rocks are over 2 billion years old, which makes the rocks in the Canadian Shield some of the oldest rocks in North America.

Vegetation and Soil

The vegetation that is found in the Canadian Shield are forests. The region is mainly boreal or taiga which means that the region has long cold winters and short hot summers. There are mostly coniferous forests with large groups of evergreen trees normally found on slopes and mountains. Many types of trees can be found in the Canadian Shield such as birch, black and white spruce, hemlock, aspen, tamarack, pine and balsam. As you travel further north, the trees get small and much farther apart from each other, but as you go south, the trees get larger and closer together. The soil in the Canadian Shield is very coarse. The soil does not retain moisture well which is why the Canadian Shield is not a very good province for agriculture. The lowlands of the Shield has very dense soil that is not even suitable for forests, so many bogs are located there instead.


There are lot's of animals that you can see in the Canadian Shield. Some of the species you would typically see in the Canadian Shield are the black bear, grizzly bear, porcupine, moose, deer, caribous, goose, sparrow, wolf, lynx, snowshoe hare, skunk, bald eagle, beaver, fox, buffalo, weasels and owls. There are plenty of animals that use the landscape of the Canadian Shield to create their habitat and call this region their home.  

Major Cities

The Canadian Shield is a very large region, being the largest in Canada. There are many cities located in this region, with some of the major cities being:

- Quebec: Quebec City, Montreal, Chicoutimi

- Ontario: Ottawa, Sudbury, Thunder Bay

- Manitoba: Thompson

-Northwest Territories: Yellowknife

Some of the locations in the Canadian Shield that are wonderful places to go cross country skiing would include Gatineau Park in Quebec, the Stokely Creek Lodge, Hiawatha Highlands and Elliot Lake in Ontario, along with many other locations scattered across the Canadian Shield.

Human Activities

The Canadian Shield is home to many recreational activities including snowshoeing, boating, fishing, hockey , hunting, and skating. The activity that I think is one of the region's most popular activity is cross country skiing.

Cross country skiing is a good activity to do in the Canadian Shield due to how the landscape and climate compliment this activity. The landscape of the Canadian Shield has a lot of hills, mountain ranges and rocky land, which is needed for cross country skiing. It also provides a interesting courses for cross country skiing to take place.  For the beginners, there is also gentle rolling hills along with some areas of flatter land, so everyone can enjoy the fun!

The climate also supports cross country skiing. In the Canadian Shield, there are long cold winters and short hot summers. In winter, there is approximately 1200-1500 mm of snow in winter. This provides a good setting for cross country skiing since the activity requires snow in order to perform the activity. The cold weather also helps maintain the amount of snowfall and reduces the amount of snow melting. Can you imagine cross country skiing with no snow? Not fun.

Climate Change

What is climate change?

Climate change is a shift in the long-term climate patterns for a region. This change is caused by an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the air, which warms the atmosphere. It can also be caused by natural changes like volcanic eruptions, the earth's rotation and the albedo effect. Climate change will result in an increase in the average annual temperature.

How will climate change affect cross country skiing?

Climate change will have a negative effect on cross country skiing in the future. Since the annual temperature will continue to increase dramatically, if will be very difficult to get the amount of snow needed to ski. This will result in the amount of people who go cross country skiing to decline and the lodges will not be making enough income. The lack of snow will result in the ski resorts having to make their own snow using machines. This process is very costly and will need a big energy source to function. They will have to cut costs in other areas making the overall experience will not be as good. This change in temperature will also cause the snow on the mountains to began to melt which will weaken the layers of snow and will result in avalanches occurring.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters is a major event that is harmful resulting from natural processes. These can include floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. The natural disaster that I think affects cross country skiing the most are avalanches.

What is an avalanche?

An avalanche is a large mass of snow, ice or rocks that travel down a mountainside at very high speeds. Smaller avalanches are usually composed of snow,ice and air. The larger avalanches can be made up of snow, ice, rocks, mud and even trees and debris that get caught in it's way. Avalanches occur when the layers of snow accumulated on a mountain is disturbed in some way causing the top layer of snow to crack, which causes the snow to speed down the mountain. The disturbance can be a variety of things like, additional weight, temperature increase, a steep slope angle, or an intense vibration.

There are generally 4 types of avalanches:                                                                                       - Loose snow avalanches = common on steep slopes and seen after fresh snowfall before                                                     the snow has time to settle and pack together.

- Slab avalanches = A large block of ice falling down a slope.

- Powder snow avalanches = A mix of loose snow and slab avalanches. The bottom half of                                                     the avalanche consists of slabs, while there is a cloud of loose                                                     snow above it.

- Wet snow avalanches = Consists of water and snow along with the debris it collects.

How can an avalanche affect cross country skiing?

Avalanches are very dangerous and affect the safety of cross country skiers. Avalanches have often resulted in death or injury of humans since the weight of skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers can often trigger an avalanche. Since avalanches can range from 20 MPH to 80 MPH, they can often be too fast for people to escape. Avalanches can also cause destruction of property when it collides with building or vehicles and cut power supplies. An avalanche is something skiers have to look out for since it can occur very often on high mountain slopes.

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