The Canadian Shield

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In the period between 1760 and confederation, settlement in Lower and Upper Canada pushed into the Canadian Shield. In Lower Canada, settlement in the Shield was mostly by the Saguenay River, St. Maurice Valley and the area north of Montreal. In Upper Canada, settlement was attempted in the Ottawa-Huron Tract which was eastward from Lake Huron into the Ottawa Valley. Canadian colonial settlement shared a fluctuating relationship with the Canadian Shield. The Shield was a barrier to settlement until population increases pushed the boundaries. In the early nineteenth century, the Shield offered a solution to the ideological and economic dilemmas in the Canadian colonies and settlement was encouraged. The settlement that evolved in the Canadian Shield was based on resource extraction, and shaped the landscape of the region. Ultimately, however, settlement in the Shield diminished because of the poor conditions and new settlement solutions were found. The Canadian Shield affected settlement in Lower and Upper Canada because it was a temporary solution in a difficult period of demographic and economic transition. The shield pointed out the limitations of settlement in the Canadian colonies and compelled settlers to establish settlements in the Northwest Interior.

Settlement in the Canadian Shield offered an outlet for the growing population. In the early nineteenth century, Lower Canada experienced a surge of labour, pioneer families and capital from the transatlantic and eastern North America. Settlement began to expand northward; however, according to Geography professor Cole Harris, settlement “hesitated at the edge of the Canadian Shield” and “neither settlers nor capital touched the Canadian Shield until the early 1850s.” ...

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...rence Lowlands while in Upper Canada it eventually became a forestry landscape. Although the Shield was not effectively settled, it staved off emigration until alternative solutions were found and did allow for further resource exploitation. Because the margins of the Canadian Shield were pushed, settlers realized that Canada was narrowly confined and for solutions elsewhere. It could be said that failed settlement of the Shield factored into westward expansion.

Works Cited

Galois, Robert M. “Rural Quebec: After the Conquest.” Lecture, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, November 3, 2011.

Galois, Robert M. “Upper Canada: Agriculture and Rural Settlement.” Lecture, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, November 10, 2011.

Harris, R. Cole. The reluctant land: society, space, and environment in Canada before Confederation. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2008.

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