Geography of Saskatchewan

Last updated
Geography of Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan-relief.png
Continent North America
Region Western Canada
Canadian Prairies
Coordinates 49°00′00″N101°21′41″W / 49.00000°N 101.36139°W / 49.00000; -101.36139
60°00′N110°00′W / 60.000°N 110.000°W / 60.000; -110.000
Area Ranked 7th among provinces
  Total651,036 km2 (251,366 sq mi)
  Land90.8%
  Water9.2%
Coastline0 km (0 mi)
Borders Alberta, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Montana and North Dakota
Highest point Cypress Hills
1,468 metres (4,816 ft)
Lowest point Lake Athabasca
213 metres (699 ft)
Longest river Saskatchewan River
Largest lake Lake Athabasca
7935 km2

The geography of Saskatchewan (suskăchuwun"), is unique among the provinces and territories of Canada in some respects. It is one of only two landlocked regions (Alberta is the other) and it is the only region whose borders are not based on natural features like lakes, rivers or drainage divides. The borders of Saskatchewan, which make it very nearly a trapezoid, were determined in 1905 when it became a Canadian province. Saskatchewan has a total area of 651,036 square kilometres (251,366 sq mi) of which 591,670 km2 (228,450 sq mi) is land and 59,366 km2 (22,921 sq mi) is water. [1]

Contents

The province's name comes from the Saskatchewan River, whose Cree name is: kisiskatchewani sipi, meaning "swift flowing river". [2]

Saskatchewan can be divided into three regions: grassland (part of the Great Plains) in the south, aspen parkland in the center, and forest in the north. The forest region lies partly on the northern part of the Great Plains and partly on the Canadian Shield. Its principal rivers are the Assiniboine River, and North and South Saskatchewan Rivers.

NASA image of Saskatchewan and a portion of Manitoba. Dark to light rust coloured areas in the north are burn scars from forest fires NASA image of Saskatchewan.jpg
NASA image of Saskatchewan and a portion of Manitoba. Dark to light rust coloured areas in the north are burn scars from forest fires

Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota.

Physical geography

Saskatchewan is very close to a trapezoid. Its western border runs concurrent with the 4th meridian or the 110°W longitude, separating Saskatchewan from the province of Alberta. This border extends in length for 1,225 kilometres (761 mi) and was established in 1905 when both provinces were formed. [3]

Saskatchewan's eastern border includes minor measurement errors from the 1880s, so that it does not lie perfectly on the 102°W longitude, but rather it is slightly west of that meridian from 60°N parallel to 55°47'N, then slightly east of that until the Canada–United States border an irregular line (rather than a straight one) for its 1,225-kilometre (761 mi) distance. [4] When Saskatchewan was formed in 1905, Manitoba and the District of Keewatin were the neighboring areas to the east. Manitoba was enlarged in 1912 north to the 60th parallel, becoming Saskatchewan's only eastern neighbor. This remaining section of the border was determined by survey between 1961 and 1972. [3]

Saskatchewan's southern border with the United States sits approximately on the 49th parallel, as agreed in the Treaty of 1818 though minor measurement errors during the 1870s International Boundary Survey result in some variance between the actual Canada–United States border and the 49th parallel. [5] This boundary was not formally established until the 1867 survey. [3] This border extends 627 kilometres (390 mi) across southern Saskatchewan.

The Northwest Territories is north of the 60th parallel which forms the northern border of the province. [6] This border extends 445 kilometres (277 mi) across northern Saskatchewan. [3] The aforementioned measurement errors in the 1880s surveys place the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border approximately 400 metres (440 yd) west of the 102nd meridian and the accurately measured Northwest Territories/Nunavut border, just missing a true quadripoint of the Saskatchewan/Manitoba/Northwest Territories/Nunavut borders.

Geology

The geology of Saskatchewan can be divided into two main geological regions, the Pre-Cambrian or Canadian shield and the Phanerozoic or Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. Within the Canadian shield exists the Athabasca sedimentary basin. Meteorite impacts have altered the natural geological formation processes. The Quaternary period is the most recent geological process when the prairies were affected by glacial events. [7] There are six notable meteorite or comet impact craters in Saskatchewan. Carswell, Deep Bay and Gow Lake have affected the Canadian Shield area of the north. In the southern Phanerozoic crater are the Viewfield, Elbow and Maple Creek structures. [8] The Carswell structure is the largest astrobleme at 35 kilometres (22 mi) in diameter. [9]

Historical geography

Archaeologists have dated the first human settlements to 9,500 BCE. The four groups inhabiting the area at the time of the first European contact were the Cree, Assiniboine, Salteaux and Dene. [10] Henry Kelsey of the Hudson's Bay Company is considered the first European person to see this area. The earliest trading posts were made by the French; however, the first permanent settlement was established at Cumberland House in 1774 by the HBC. In addition, several more ports were set up by British fur traders among the area's waterways. The forested area of the Canadian Shield was the favoured area for early settlement, and the economy was heavily dependent on hunting and trapping.

In 1870, the Hudson's Bay Company sold Rupert's Land and ceded its rights to the Canadian Government. [10] The region became a part of the Northwest Territories. The majority of the Canadians of indigenous descent in the Northwest Territories sold their lands to the government in the 1870s and were settled on reservations.[ citation needed ] Additional native peoples and Métis (people of mixed French and indigenous Canadian ancestry), led by Louis Riel, rebelled between 1884 and 1885 and were suppressed.

The arrival of settlements and the rail lines also brought agricultural economies and development in the Central Lowlands Area. The Great Plains or Palliser Triangle area to the south was mainly used for ranching economies. In the beginning of the 20th century, Saskatchewan farmers created cooperative organizations to maintain grain marketization. During the drought and depression of the 1930s, the population decreased as immigration nearly ended and numerous families left. During World War II, conservation programs and the increased demand for grain revived the economy.

Climate

Koppen climate types in Saskatchewan Saskatchewan Koppen.svg
Köppen climate types in Saskatchewan

Being in the centre of North America, Saskatchewan is far removed from the moderating effects of any large body of water and therefore has a temperate continental climate, Köppen climate classification types BSk, Dfb and Dfc. Hot to warm summers and cold winters mean that the annual temperature range can be up to 65 °C. [11] On average, Saskatchewan has 211 days per year when the temperature drops below freezing. [12] Plough winds, Supercell hail or high precipitation rain storms and tornadoes are eventful summer occurrences. Midale reached 45 °C (113 °F) on July 5, 1937, the highest recorded temperature in Canada. [11]

Compared to average values from all thirteen Canadian provinces and territories, [12] Saskatchewan is the sunniest province or territory year round (2206 hours per year), has the second-lowest annual snowfall (145 centimetres (57 in)), the fourth-lowest total precipitation (428 millimetres (16.9 in)) and the second-hottest summer (22.5 °C (72.5 °F)). The number of frost-free days ranges from 95 days in the north (Prince Albert, for example) to as high as 124 days in the south (Estevan). [13]

Urban areas

Saskatchewan's capital is Regina. Its most populous city is Saskatoon. Other major cities include Estevan, Flin Flon (part), Humboldt, Lloydminster  (part), Melfort, Melville, Moose Jaw, North Battleford, Prince Albert, Swift Current, Weyburn, and Yorkton.

Biosphere

Flora

View of Qu'Appelle Valley Qu'Appelle Valley near Cutarm, Sask., circa 1910.jpeg
View of Qu'Appelle Valley

The native flora of the Saskatchewan includes vascular plants, plus additional species of other plants and plant-like organisms such as algae, lichens and other fungi, and mosses. [16] Non-native species of plants are recorded as established outside of cultivation in Saskatchewan, of these some non-native species remain beneficial for gardening, and agriculture, where others have become invasive, noxious weeds. [17] [18] Saskatchewan is committed to protecting species at risk in Canada. [19] The growing season has been studied and classified into plant hardiness zones depending on length of growing season and climatic conditions. Biogeographic factors have also been divided into ecoregions and floristic kingdoms across Saskatchewan, and natural vegetation varies depending on elevation, moisture, soil and weather. [20] [21] [22] The study of ethnobotany uncovers the interrelation between humans and plants and the various ways people have used plants for economic reasons, food, medicine and technological developments. [23] [24]

The Government of Saskatchewan has declared 3 indigenous plants as provincial symbols. [25]

Saskatchewan Terrain within rectangle
Red area Canadian Shield
Green area Central Lowlands
Southwest corner Great Plains Sk-terrain.jpg
Saskatchewan Terrain within rectangle
Red area Canadian Shield
Green area Central Lowlands
Southwest corner Great Plains

Fauna

The fauna of Saskatchewan include many land and aquatic species. From the multiplicity of invertebrates and vertebrates two have been chosen as symbols of Saskatchewan, the white-tailed deer and the sharp-tailed grouse. [26] Cenozoic vertebrate fossils reveal the geological evolution of the interior plains and its prehistoric biogeography. [27] Today, Saskatchewan's ecosystems range from the sub-arctic tundra of the Canadian Shield in north Saskatchewan to aspen parkland, and grassland prairie. [28] Fauna inhabit areas unique to their own specific and varied breeding, foraging and nesting requirements. [21] With a large land and water area, and small population density, the ecoregions of Saskatchewan provide important habitat for many animals, both endangered and not. [29]

Naturalists observing wildlife have enumerated shrinking and growing wildlife populations. They advocate programs and methods to preserve or re-introduce endangered species and identify programs of control for outbreaks of wildlife populations. [30]

A broad diversity of wildlife habitats are preserved as parks and reserves protecting the feeding and breeding grounds of protected and indigenous fauna of Saskatchewan. [27] [31]

Hydrography

The total area of freshwater is 59,366 km2. [1] [32] There are two main river basins, the Nelson and Churchill River Basins, both of which drain into Hudson Bay. [33]

Qu'Appelle and Souris, the North and South Saskatchewan, confluence is east of Prince Albert becoming the Saskatchewan which are all a part of the Nelson river basin. The Churchill River connects lakes and streams through the lower portion of the Canadian shield. [34] Rupert's Land a historical political division of Canada comprised all lands of the Hudson Bay drainage system between the years 1670 to 1870. [35] [36]

Frenchman River does not flow east to Hudson Bay, but rather south to the Missouri River, which is part of the Missouri river basin catchment area. The Mackenzie River basin of north Saskatchewan flows north draining into the Arctic Ocean, which belongs to the Mackenzie river basin drainage area. [33] [34]

There are over 10 thousand lakes across Saskatchewan, the main lake region being north of the tree line in the Canadian Shield. [37]

Saskatchewan's largest lake is Lake Athabasca which sits astride the Saskatchewan – Alberta border. The second in size is Reindeer Lake which is located on the Saskatchewan – Manitoba border. Other lakes of notable size would be Wollaston, Cree, Frobisher, and Lac La Ronge. [34] The deepest water point 220 metres (720 ft) is located in Reindeer Lake at the Deep Bay Structure site which was created by a meteor impact. [9] [38]

Saskatchewan is also home to preserved wetlands which are partially submerged areas of land. [39]

Saskatchewan's waterways also contain bogs, as well as the salt water lakes. Quill Lake is Canada's largest saltwater lake, Chaplin Lake is a Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network and Little Manitou, an ehdorheic lake, is a popular tourist resort. Brine shrimp siheries have existed on sodium magnesium sulphate lakes such as Chaplin, Frederick, Ingebright, and Little Manitou lakes. [40] [41]

Provincial and national parks

Saskatchewan has 34 provincial parks that provide for recreational use or preserve wilderness, special environments or sites of historic importance. [42]

The province is also home to two of Canada's 36 National Parks. Grasslands National Park, which covers 907 square kilometres (350 sq mi) in southernmost part of the province, was established in 1981. [43] The other is Prince Albert National Park covering 3,874 square kilometres (1,496 sq mi) in central Saskatchewan, which was established in 1927. [44]

Economic geography

The economy of Saskatchewan has been associated with agriculture resulting in the moniker Bread Basket of Canada [45] and Bread Basket of the World. [46] According to the Government of Saskatchewan, approximately 95% of all items produced in Saskatchewan, depend on the basic resources available within the province. Various grains, livestock, oil and gas, potash, uranium, wood and their spin off industries fuel the economy. [47]

Saskatchewan's GDP in 2006 was approximately C$45.922 billion. [48]

See also

Related Research Articles

Alberta Province of Canada

Alberta is a province of Canada. With an estimated population of 4,067,175 as of 2016 census, it is Canada's fourth most populous province and the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces. Its area is about 660,000 square kilometres (250,000 sq mi). Alberta and its neighbour Saskatchewan were districts of the Northwest Territories until they were established as provinces on September 1, 1905.

Geography of Canada geographic features of Canada

Canada has a vast geography that occupies much of the continent of North America, sharing land borders with the contiguous United States to the south and the U.S. state of Alaska to the northwest. Canada stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Arctic Ocean. Greenland is to the northeast and to the southeast Canada shares a maritime boundary with France's overseas collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, the last vestige of New France. By total area, Canada is the second-largest country in the world, after Russia. By land area alone, however, Canada ranks fourth, the difference being due to it having the world's largest proportion of fresh water lakes. Of Canada's thirteen provinces and territories, only two are landlocked while the other eleven all directly border one of three oceans.

Canadian Shield Geographic and geologic area of Canada

The Canadian Shield, also called the Laurentian Plateau, or Bouclier canadien (French), is a large area of exposed Precambrian igneous and high-grade metamorphic rocks that forms the ancient geological core of the North American continent. Composed of igneous rock resulting from its long volcanic history, the area is covered by a thin layer of soil. With a deep, common, joined bedrock region in eastern and central Canada, it stretches north from the Great Lakes to the Arctic Ocean, covering over half of Canada; it also extends south into the northern reaches of the United States. Human population is sparse, and industrial development is minimal, while mining is prevalent.

Manitoba Province of Canada

Manitoba is a province at the longitudinal centre of Canada. It is often considered one of the three prairie provinces and is Canada's fifth-most populous province with its estimated 1.377 million people. Manitoba covers 649,950 square kilometres (250,900 sq mi) with a widely varied landscape, stretching from the northern oceanic coastline to the southern border with the United States. The province is bordered by the provinces of Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west, the territories of Nunavut to the north, and Northwest Territories to the northwest, Hudson Bay to the northeast, and the U.S. states of North Dakota and Minnesota to the south.

Saskatchewan Province of Canada

Saskatchewan is a prairie and boreal province in western Canada, the only province without a natural border. It has an area of 651,900 square kilometres (251,700 sq mi), nearly 10 percent of which is fresh water, composed mostly of rivers, reservoirs, and the province's 100,000 lakes.

Mackenzie River largest river system in Canada

The Mackenzie River is a river in the Canadian boreal forest. It is the longest river system in Canada, and includes the second largest drainage basin of any North American river after the Mississippi.

Geography of Alberta Physical features of the Canadian province

Alberta is a Canadian province. Located in Western Canada, the province has an area of 661,190 square kilometres (255,290 sq mi) and is bounded to the south by the U.S. state of Montana along 49° north for 298 kilometres (185 mi); to the east at 110° west by the province of Saskatchewan for 1,223 kilometres (760 mi); and at 60° north the Northwest Territories for 644 kilometres (400 mi). The southern half of the province borders British Columbia along the Continental Divide of the Americas on the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, while the northern half borders British Columbia along the 120th meridian west. It is one of only two landlocked provinces.

Churchill River (Hudson Bay) river and tributary of Hudson Bay in Canada

The Churchill River is a major river in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada. From the head of the Churchill Lake it is 1,609 kilometres (1,000 mi) long. It was named after John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and governor of the Hudson's Bay Company from 1685 to 1691.

Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan City in Saskatchewan, Canada

Meadow Lake is a city in the boreal forest of northwestern Saskatchewan, Canada. Its location is about 246 kilometres (153 mi) northeast of Lloydminster and 156 kilometres (97 mi) north of North Battleford. Founded as a trading post in 1799, it became a village in 1931 and a town in 1936. On November 9, 2009, it officially became Saskatchewan's 14th city.

North Saskatchewan River river in Alberta and Saskatchewan

The North Saskatchewan River is a glacier-fed river that flows from the Canadian Rockies continental divide east to central Saskatchewan, where it joins with the South Saskatchewan River to make up the Saskatchewan River. Its water flows eventually into the Hudson Bay.

Highway 2 is a provincial highway in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It is the longest Saskatchewan Highway, at 809 km (503 mi). The highway is partially divided and undivided. However, only about 18 kilometres (11 mi) near Moose Jaw, 11 kilometres (7 mi) near Chamberlain, and 21 kilometres (13 mi) near Prince Albert are divided highway. Highway 2 is a major north-south route, beginning at the Canada–US border at the Port of West Poplar River, and Opheim, Montana customs checkpoints. Montana Highway 24 continues south. The town of La Ronge delimits the northern terminus with Highway 102 continuing north. It passes through the major cities of Moose Jaw in the south and Prince Albert in the north. Highway 2 overlaps Highway 11 between the towns of Chamberlain and Findlater. This 11 kilometres (7 mi) section of road is a wrong-way concurrency. The highway ends at La Ronge, where it becomes Highway 102.

Saskatchewan Highway 5 highway in Saskatchewan

Highway 5 is a major highway in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It begins in downtown Saskatoon and runs eastward to the Manitoba border near Togo, where it becomes Provincial Road 363. The highway is approximately 393 kilometres (244 mi) long. Between the early 1900s (decade) and 1976, Provincial Highway 5 was a trans-provincial highway travelling approximately 630 kilometres (390 mi) in length. At this time it started at the Alberta border in Lloydminster and traveled east to the Manitoba border.

Highway 6 is a paved undivided major provincial highway in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It runs from Montana Highway 16 at the Canada–US border near the Canada customs port of Regway to Highway 55 near Choiceland. Highway 6 is about 523 km (325 mi) long. The CanAm Highway comprises Saskatchewan Highways from south to north: SK 35, Sk 39, Sk 6, Sk 3, as well as Sk 2. 330 kilometres (210 mi) of Saskatchewan Highway 6 contribute to the CanAm Highway between Corinne and Melfort.

Highway 3 is a major provincial paved undivided highway in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It runs from the Alberta border, where it continues west as Alberta Highway 45, to the Manitoba border, and then continues east as Highway 77. Highway 3 is about 615 km (382 mi.) long. The CanAm Highway comprises Saskatchewan Highways 35, 39, 6, 2, as well as 2. 59.7 miles (96.1 km) of Saskatchewan Highway 3 contribute to the CanAm Highway between Melfort and Prince Albert.

Volcanology of Canada

Volcanology of Canada includes lava flows, lava plateaus, lava domes, cinder cones, stratovolcanoes, shield volcanoes, submarine volcanoes, calderas, diatremes, and maars, along with examples of more less common volcanic forms such as tuyas and subglacial mounds. It has a very complex volcanological history spanning from the Precambrian eon at least 3.11 billion years ago when this part of the North American continent began to form.

Transportation in Saskatchewan is the movement of people and goods from one place to another within the province. Transportation in Saskatchewan includes an infrastructure system of roads, highways, freeways, airports, ferries, pipelines, trails, waterways and railway systems serving a population of approximately 1,003,299 inhabitants year-round. It is funded primarily with local, rural municipality and federal government funds.

80% of traffic is carried on our principal system of highways which is 5,031 km in length.

The economy of Saskatchewan has been associated with agriculture resulting in the moniker "Bread Basket of Canada" and Bread Basket of the World. According to the Government of Saskatchewan, approximately 95% of all items produced in Saskatchewan, depend on the basic resources available within the province. Various grains, livestock, oil and gas, potash, uranium, wood and their spin off industries fuel the economy.

Geology of Saskatchewan

The geology of Saskatchewan can be divided into two main geological regions, the Precambrian Canadian Shield and the Phanerozoic Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. Within the Precambrian shield exists the Athabasca sedimentary basin. Meteorite impacts have altered the natural geological formation processes. The prairies were most recently affected by glacial events in the Quaternary period.

Flora of Saskatchewan

The native flora of Saskatchewan includes vascular plants, plus additional species of other plants and plant-like organisms such as algae, lichens and other fungi, and mosses. Non-native species of plants are recorded as established outside of cultivation in Saskatchewan, of these some non-native species remain beneficial for gardening, and agriculture, where others have become invasive, noxious weeds. Saskatchewan is committed to protecting species at risk in Canada. The growing season has been studied and classified into plant hardiness zones depending on length of growing season and climatic conditions. Biogeographic factors have also been divided into vegetative zones, floristic kingdoms, hardiness zones and ecoregions across Saskatchewan, and natural vegetation varies depending on elevation, moisture, soil type landforms, and weather. The study of ethnobotany uncovers the interrelation between humans and plants and the various ways people have used plants for economic reasons, food, medicine and technological developments. The Government of Saskatchewan has declared 3 indigenous plants as provincial symbols.

References

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Further reading