Great Lakes St. Lawrence Lowlands

by: Nadia Qureishi


The St. Lawrence Lowlands are situated far from oceans, which means it has a continental climate. The fact that it has a continental climate means that the climate is dry and the summers are very hot, but winters are very cold. It also means that the yearly temperature range is above 25 degrees, the total precipitation is less than 1000 mm and that there is more precipitation in the winter months (October to March) than the summer months (April to September). Toronto, a city also located in the St. Lawrence Lowlands, has a moderating because it is near bodies of water (The Great Lakes). Since the St. Lawrence Lowlands has a lower latitude than the rest of Canada, the winter cold isn't as extreme. The Jet Stream brings a cold wind to the St. Lawrence Lowlands.

This climate graph shows that Toronto, a city in the Great Lakes region, has a continental climate.


The Great Lakes St. Lawrence is made up of parts of Quebec and significant parts of Ontario. The landscape was formed by a continental glacier during the ice age more than 12 000 years ago. The continental glacier gathered huge amounts of soil and till as it moved across Canada and deposited it in the region leaving a region of rolling hills and fertile soil. However, now the land is more flat due to industrialization and human settlement.

Vegetation and Soil

The Great Lakes is rich with vegetation. It is home to many wetlands and forests. The vegetation includes sugar maple, American beech, basswood, white oak, red oak, shagbark hickory, black walnut and butternut. The till is made up mostly of clay, sand and gravel.


The lowlands contain minerals such as iron, coal, zinc, copper, ore, silver. Mainly sedimentary rocks, which are soft and crumbly rocks, can be found in the St. Lawrence Lowlands. The oldest to youngest rocks are sandstone, dolomite, limestone and shale ranging from 520 to 480 years of age. 

Human Activities

The province of Ontario in The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Lowlands has a lot of potential to start a new farming business. This region is already the second largest region of farming in all of Canada. To begin with, the summer temperatures and sunlight are hot and perfect for the growth of crops. Secondly, the soil is rich in clay, sand and gravel due to the till brought by the glaciers which creates fertile soil and allows a variety of produce to be grown. Thirdly, because there are more sedimentary rocks than other rocks and sedimentary rocks are more crumbly, they make up the source material for soil more than igneous or metamorphic rocks do. If another farming business were to be established in the St. Lawrence Lowlands, then even more produce would be exported out of Canada and the economy would prosper.

A farm in Canada where the land is being prepared to grow crops.

Climate Change

As climate change gets worse and temperatures rise, areas of the St. Lawrence Lowlands will get much higher temperatures in the summer months. Calcification may result in the soil, meaning the water evaporates and carries the nutrients with it into the o horizon of the soil. More nutrients in the o horizon is essentially better for crops and agriculture. Also, winters would be milder and most likely shorter which would increase the productivity of crops. However, there is a possibility of droughts, but that is more likely to happen in the other regions of Canada and not so much the St, Lawrence Lowlands. In General, climate change will allow farming to flourish in the Great Lakes region.

Natural Disasters

Fortunately, the Great Lakes region is not usually affected by many natural disasters, but there is still the possibility of there being tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes. Earthquakes can occur because the lowlands are part of a rift valley, although it is rare with only ten major earthquakes occurring in the past 100 years. These Earthquakes take place when the plates of the great lakes divergent plate boundary move apart from each other. If an earthquake were to hit this region, it would result in a loss of crops and livestock. In Ontario, tornadoes occur on an average of 12 times a year. Tornadoes occur when a warm, moist air mass collides with a cool, dry air mass and a storm begins to develop as well as a thunder cloud. Once the storm develops, winds from different directions and an downward draft of air cause it to rotate and a funnel  drops out of the cloud and to the ground. Hurricanes hit the lowlands when they are formed over tropical water and the warm air rises. Sometimes these hurricanes make their way North to the lowlands.

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