Alberta is the most populous Prairie province. The province, and the world-famous Lake Louise in the Rocky Mountains, were both named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. Alberta has five national parks, including Banff National Park, established in 1885. The rugged Badlands house some of the world’s richest deposits of prehistoric fossils and dinosaur finds. Alberta is the largest producer of oil and gas, and the oil sands in the north are being developed as a major energy source. Alberta is also renowned for agriculture, especially for the vast cattle ranches that make Canada one of the world’s major beef producers.
British Columbia (B.C.), on the Pacific coast, is Canada’s western most province, with a population of four million. The Port of Vancouver is our gateway to the Asia-Pacific. About one-half of all the goods produced in B.C. are forestry products, including lumber, newsprint, and pulp and paper products—the most valuable forestry industry in Canada. B.C. is also known for mining, fishing, and the fruit orchards and wine industry of the Okanagan Valley. B.C. has the most extensive park system in Canada, with approximately 600 provincial parks. The province’s large Asian communities have made Chinese and Punjabi the most spoken languages in the cities after English. The capital, Victoria, is a tourist centre and headquarters of the navy’s Pacific fleet.
Manitoba’s economy is based on agriculture, mining and hydro-electric power generation. The province’s most populous city is Winnipeg, whose Exchange District includes the most famous street intersection in Canada, Portage and Main. Winnipeg’s French Quarter, St. Boniface, has Western Canada’s largest Francophone community at 45,000. Manitoba is also an important centre of Ukrainian culture, with 14% reporting Ukrainian origins, and the largest Aboriginal population of any province, at over 15%.
Situated in the Appalachian Range, the province was founded by the United Empire Loyalists and has the second largest river system on North America’s Atlantic coastline, the St. John River system. Forestry, agriculture, fisheries, mining, food processing and tourism are the principal industries. Saint John is the largest city, port and manufacturing centre; Moncton is the principal Francophone Acadian centre; and Fredericton, the historic capital. New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province, and about one-third of the population lives and works in French. The province’s pioneer Loyalist and French cultural heritage and history come alive in street festivals and traditional music.
Newfoundland and Labrador is the most easterly point in North America and has its own time zone. In addition to its natural beauty, the province has a unique heritage linked to the sea. The oldest colony of the British Empire and a strategic prize in Canada’s early history, the province has long been known for its fisheries, coastal fishing villages and distinct culture. Today off-shore oil and gas extraction contributes a substantial part of the economy. Labrador also has immense hydro-electric resources.
Nova Scotia is the most populous Atlantic Province, with a rich history as the gateway to Canada. Known for the world’s highest tides in the Bay of Fundy, the province’s identity is linked to shipbuilding, fisheries and shipping. As Canada’s largest east coast port, deep-water and ice-free, the capital, Halifax, has played an important role in Atlantic trade and defence and is home to Canada’s largest naval base. Nova Scotia has a long history of coal mining, forestry and agriculture. Today there is also off-shore oil and gas exploration. The province’s Celtic and Gaelic traditions sustain a vibrant culture. Nova Scotia is home to over 700 annual festivals, including the spectacular military tattoo in Halifax.
At more than 12 million, the people of Ontario make up more than one-third of Canadians. The large and culturally diverse population, natural resources and strategic location contribute to a vital economy. Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the country’s main financial centre. Many people work in the service or manufacturing industries, which produce a large percentage of Canada’s exports. The Niagara region is known for its vineyards, wines and fruit crops. Ontario farmers raise dairy and beef cattle, poultry, and vegetable and grain crops. Founded by United Empire Loyalists, Ontario also has the largest Frenchspeaking population outside of Quebec, with a proud history of preserving their language and culture. There are five Great Lakes located between Ontario and the United States: Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan (in the U.S.A.) and Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world.
Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) is the smallest province, known for its beaches, red soil and agriculture, especially potatoes. P.E.I. is the birthplace of Confederation, connected to mainland Canada by one of the longest continuous multispan bridges in the world, the Confederation Bridge. Anne of Green Gables, set in P.E.I. by Lucy Maud Montgomery, is a much-loved story about the adventures of a little red-headed orphan girl.
Nearly eight million people live in Quebec, the vast majority along or near the St. Lawrence River. More than three-quarters speak French as their first language. The resources of the Canadian Shield have helped Quebec to develop important industries, including forestry, energy and mining. Quebec is Canada’s main producer of pulp and paper. The province’s huge supply of fresh water has made it Canada’s largest producer of hydro-electricity. Quebecers are leaders in cutting-edge industries such as pharmaceuticals and aeronautics. Quebec films, music, literary works and food have international stature, especially in La Francophonie, an association of French-speaking nations. Montreal, Canada’s second largest city and the second largest mainly French-speaking city in the world after Paris, is famous for its cultural diversity.
Saskatchewan, once known as the “breadbasket of the world” and the “wheat province,” has 40% of the arable land in Canada and is the country’s largest producer of grains and oilseeds. It also boasts the world’s richest deposits of uranium and potash, used in fertilizer, and produces oil and natural gas. Regina, the capital, is home to the training academy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Saskatoon, the largest city, is the headquarters of the mining industry and an important educational, research and technology centre.
Thousands of miners came to the Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s, as celebrated in the poetry of Robert W. Service. Mining remains a significant part of the economy. The White Pass and Yukon Railway opened from Skagway in neighbouring Alaska to the territorial capital, Whitehorse in 1900 and provides a spectacular tourist excursion across precipitous passes and bridges. Yukon holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in Canada (-63°C).