Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

as for hundreds of miles to the south, so that most kinds of grain and vegetables ripen far to the north in the Peace river valley. Though the climate of the plains is one of extremes and often of rather sudden changes, it is brisk and invigorating and of particular value for persons affected with lung troubles.

The climate of the Cordilleran region presents even more variety than that of the other provinces because of the ranges of mountains which run parallel to the Pacific. Along the coast itself the climate is insular, with little frost in winter and mild heat in summer, and with a very heavy rainfall amounting to 100 in. on the south-west side of Vancouver Island and near Port Simpson. Within 100 m. inland beyond the Coast Range the precipitation and general climate are, like those of Ontario, comparatively mild and with moderate snowfall towards the south, but with keen winters farther north. The interior plateau may be described as arid, so that irrigation is required if crops are to be raised. The Selkirk Mountains have a heavy rainfall and a tremendous snowfall on their western flanks, but very much less precipitation on their eastern side. The Rocky Mountains have the same relationships but the whole precipitation is much less than in the Selkirks. The temperature depends largely, of course, on altitude, so that one may quickly pass from perpetual snow above 8000 ft. in the mountains to the mild, moist climate of Vancouver or Victoria, which is like that of Devonshire. In the far north of the territories of Yukon, Mackenzie and Ungava the climate has been little studied, as the region is uninhabited by white men except at a few fur-trading posts. North-west and north-east of Hudson Bay it becomes too severe for the growth of trees as seen on the “barren grounds,” and there may be perpetual ice beneath the coating of moss which serves as a non-conducting covering for the “tundras.” There is, however, so little precipitation that snow does not accumulate on the surface to form glaciers, the summer’s sun having warmth enough to thaw what falls in the winter. Leaving out the maritime provinces, southern Ontario, southern Alberta and the Pacific coast region on the one hand, and the Arctic north, particularly near Hudson Bay, on the other, Canada has snowy and severe winters, a very short spring with a sudden rise of temperature, short warm summers, and a delightful autumn with its “Indian summer.” There is much sunshine, and the atmosphere is bracing and exhilarating.

Flora.—The general flora of the Maritime Provinces, Quebec and Eastern Ontario is much the same, except that in Nova Scotia a number of species are found common also to Newfoundland that are not apparent inland. Professor Macoun gives us a few notable species—Calluna vulgaris, Salisb., Alchemilla vulgaris, L., Rhododendron maximum, L., Ilex glabia, Gray, Hudsonia ericoides, L., Gaylussacia dumosa, F. and G., and Schezaea pusilla, Pursh. In New Brunswick the western flora begins to appear as well as immigrants from the south, while in the next eastern province, Quebec, the flora varies considerably. In the lower St Lawrence country and about the Gulf many Arctic and sub-Arctic species are found. On the shores of the lower reaches Thalictrum alpinum, L., Vesicaria arctica, Richards, Arapis alpina, L., Saxifraga oppositifolia, L., Cerastium alpinum, L., Saxifraga caespitosa, L. and S. have been gathered, and on the Shickshock Mountains of Eastern Canada Silene acaulis, L., Lychnis alpina, L., Cassiope hypnoides, Don., Rhododendron laponicum, Wahl, and many others. On the summit of these hills (4000 ft.) have been collected Aspidium aculeatum, Swartz var., Scopulinum, D. C. Eaton, Pellaea densa, Hook, Gallium kamtschaticum, Sletten. From the city of Quebec westwards there is a constantly increasing ratio of southern forms, and when the mountain (so called) at Montreal is reached the representative Ontario flora begins. In Ontario the flora of the northern part is much the same as that of the Gulf of St Lawrence, but from Montreal along the Ottawa and St Lawrence valleys the flora takes a more southern aspect, and trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants not found in the eastern parts of the Dominion become common. In the forest regions north of the lakes the vegetation on the shores of Lake Erie requires a high winter temperature, while the east and north shores of Lake Superior have a boreal vegetation that shows the summer temperature of this enormous water-stretch to be quite low. Beyond the forest country of Ontario come the prairies of Manitoba and the North-West Territories. In the ravines the eastern flora continues for some distance, and then disappearing gives place to that of the prairie, which is found everywhere between the Red river and the Rocky Mountains except in wooded and damp localities. Northwards, in the Saskatchewan country, the flora of the forest and that of the prairies intermingle. On the prairies and the foot-hills of the Rocky Mountains a great variety of grasses are found, several years’ collection resulting in 42 genera and 156 species. Of the best hay and pasture grasses, Agropyrum Elymus, Stipa, Bromus, Agrostis, Calamagrostes and Poa, there are 59 species. Besides the grasses there are leguminous plants valuable for pasture—Astragalus, Vicia (wild vetch), Lathyrus (wild pea) of which there are many species. The rose family is represented by Prunus, Potentilla, Fragaria, Rosa, Rubus and Amelanchier.

About the saline lakes and marshes of the prairie country are found Ruppia maritima, L., Heliotropium curassavicum, L., natives of the Atlantic coast, and numerous species of Chenopodium, Atriplex and allied genera. The flora of the forest belt of the North-West Territories differs little from that of northern Ontario. At the beginning of the elevation of the Rocky Mountains there is a luxurious growth of herbaceous plants, including a number of rare umbellifers. At the higher levels the vegetation becomes more Arctic. Northwards the valleys of the Peace and other rivers differ little from those of Quebec and the northern prairies. On the western slope of the mountains, that is, the Selkirk and Coast ranges as distinguished from the eastern or Rocky Mountains range, the flora differs, the climate being damp instead of dry. In some of the valleys having an outlet to the south the flora is partly peculiar to the American desert, and such species as Purshia tridentata, D.C., and Artemisia tridentata, Nutt., and species of Gilia, Aster and Erigonum are found that are not met with elsewhere. Above Yale, in the drier part of the Fraser valley, the absence of rain results in the same character of flora, while in the rainy districts of the lower Fraser the vegetation is so luxuriant that it resembles that of the tropics. So in various parts of the mountainous country of British Columbia, the flora varies according to climatic conditions. Nearer the Pacific coast the woods and open spaces are filled with flowers and shrubs. Liliaceous flowers are abundant, including Erythoniums, Trilliums, Alliums, Brodeaeas, Fritillarias, Siliums, Camassias and others.

Fauna.—The larger animals of Canada are the musk ox and the caribou of the barren lands, both having their habitat in the far north; the caribou of the woods, found in all the provinces except in Prince Edward Island; the moose, with an equally wide range in the wooded country; the Virginia deer, in one or other of its varietal forms, common to all the southern parts; the black-tailed deer or mule deer and allied forms, on the western edge of the plains and in British Columbia; the pronghorn antelope on the plains, and a small remnant of the once plentiful bison found in northern Alberta and Mackenzie, now called “wood buffalo.” The wapiti or American elk at one time abounded from Quebec to the Pacific, and as far north as the Peace river, but is now found only in small numbers from Manitoba westwards. In the mountains of the west are the grizzly bear, black bear and cinnamon bear. The black bear is also common to most other parts of Canada; the polar bear everywhere along the Arctic littoral. The large or timber wolf is found in the wooded districts of all the provinces, and on the plains there is also a smaller wolf called the coyote. In British Columbia the puma or cougar, sometimes called the panther and the American lion, still frequently occurs; and in all parts the common fox and the silver fox, the lynx, beaver, otter, marten, fisher, wolverene, mink, skunk and other fur-bearing animals. Mountain and plain and Arctic hares and rabbits are plentiful or scarce in localities, according to seasons or other circumstances. In the mountains of British Columbia are the bighorn or Rocky Mountain sheep and the Rocky Mountain goat, while the