- Published: 14 August 2014
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Frank LaMusga, age 11, of Chisholm, Minnesota, for his question:
The Dominion of Canada is a federation of ten provinces and two regions called territories. Its vast area of almost four million square miles extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific and stretches from the Great Lakes to Santa's estate by the Artic Sea. This is 6.3 per cent of the earth's land and only Russia is bigger. Canada is home to more than 22 million people. It has cities of scenic beauty, though most of the land is a series of wide open spaces under the skies.
Canada's ten provinces are like picture books crammed with multitudes of scenic variations. North of the 60th parallel are the Yukon Territories and the Northwest Territories. Their endless expanses of tundra and Arctic scenery is set aside for only the sturdiest characters to enjoy. Canada is enormous and to describe it here is like trying to cram a planet into a peanut.
In a few hours, a fast cross‑country jet can give us brief glimpses of major geographical regions. Flying eastward, we look down the lofty western mountains and see them slope down to prairies and wide fertile plains. Around Hudson Bay, the enormous Canadian Shield spreads south, east and north to the Arctic. Its hard ancient bedrock was clawed by the ice ages and melting glaciers strewed its surface with boulders. But vast geographic regions of this sort ignore man=made boundaries.
These we must view from the ground. One good way is to drive 4,830 miles from ocean to ocean along the Trans‑Canada Highway. Let's start our tour in the Province of British Columbia, where Vancouver Island nestles close to the Pacific Coast. Around us are the magnificent Canadian Rockies, with lofty peaks, forested slopes and verdant valleys.
The picture book scenery lingers as we glide doom the western slopes into the Province of Alberta. Soon we smell prairie flowers. Then we drive on eastward to the great plains. As we cross the Province of Saskatchewan and the Province of Manitoba, we are surrounded by fertile farmland and endless fields of golden grain.
The next Province is Ontario, with farms and forests and scenic wonderlands of island dotted lakes. When we leave, we cross the huge handsome Province of Quebec, much too lovely for mere words. Finally our fabulous highway curves to take us through the Maritime Provinces that dip their toes in the Atlantic, We visit the Province of New Brunswick and cross waterways to reach the Provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
Our long journey shows but small samples of the ten provinces. The territories are to the north, where they beckon us onward, to icebound islands in the Arctic Sea. Much of the region is tundra, where the world sleeps through the long dark winter. But the springtime sun brims flocks of birds and the land is a rainbow carpet of blossoms and huddles. The rest of the world is forgotten as the tundra wakes from its ice‑age winter to the surging beauty of spring.