GEOG 302: The Canadian North (Rev. C4) Report a Broken Link

Geography 302: The Canadian North is designed to link to and build from knowledge students may have acquired in courses such as cultural geography, environmental studies, Canadian studies, and Native studies. It presents an overview of the human geography of the Canadian North and covers topics such as imaginings of the North, the biophysical features of Canada’s North, the history of European exploration and contact with Indigenous northern populations, Aboriginal culture and society, political developments in the North, and natural resource developments in this region and their environmental impacts.

Unit 1: Imaginations and Definitions of the North

Required Readings
Mulvihill, P. R., Baker, D. C., & Morrison, W. R. “A Conceptual Framework for Environmental History in Canada's North.” Environmental History 6.4 (2001): 611–626.
Vincent, Mary, and Steven Fick. “What is North? Two Geographers Define Canada’s True North.” Canadian Geographic 10.6 (September/October 2000): 26–27.
Grace, Sherrill E. Canada and the Idea of North. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens UP, 2001.

Unit 2: The Northern Climate and the Physical Base of the North—Physical Geography

Required Readings
Pruitt, W. O., Jr. “The Ecology of Snow.” Canada's Changing North. Ed. W. C. Wonders. Montreal and Kingston: McGill–Queen’s UP, 2003. 34-42.
Huntington, Henry P., et al. “Ecology.” Arctic Flora and Fauna: Status and Conservation. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF), 2001. 17–29. Read the first 13 pages of the document that appears when you click on the link above.
Hebert, Paul D. N., ed. “Environments.” Canada’s Polar Environments (website). Guelph, ON: University of Guelph, CyberNatural Software, 2002. The site is divided into three major headings: Environments, Climate, and Maps. You are expected to read much of the Environments section.

Environments is subdivided into Inland Waters, Land, Marine Waters, and Sky, and there are often many levels under this. You are not responsible for the details beyond the headings and subheadings indicated below (i.e., no exam questions will be taken from this material) but, because it may be helpful in completing your assignments, you may want to look through this more detailed material on your own.

Under Inland Waters read:

Cool Facts and under this read:
  • Buried Treasure
  • Crystalline Creations
  • Salty Lakes and Monster Cods
Ecozones and under this read:
  • Arctic Archipelago
  • Hudson Bay Ecozone
  • Yukon-Mackenzie Ecozone
Ice and under this read:
  • Effects of Ice and Snow Cover
  • Lake Ice as a Climate Predictor
  • Lake Snow Cover



Under Land read:

Cool Facts, and under this read:
  • Magnetic Pole
  • North Pole
  • Smoking Hills
Ecozones, and within this read:
  • Arctic Cordillera
  • Northern Arctic
  • Southern Arctic
Features, go into Arctic Lands and within this read:
  • Topography
  • Glacial Features
  • Freeze/Thaw Features
  • Permafrost and Soils
Glaciers, and under this read:
  • Past
  • Present
Under Marine Waters read:

Cool Facts, and within this read:
  • Frigid Flotillas
Ecozones, and within this read:
  • Arctic Archipelago
  • Arctic Basin
  • Northwest Atlantic
Features, and within this read:
  • Arctic Ocean Basin
  • Continental Shelf
  • Currents

Under Sky/Optical Phenomena read:


In total you will encounter about 60 pages of text. Some of these pages contain only a map or a few sentences of text, but others are several paragraphs in length. You can use the commentary and study questions to focus your reading, but please read and examine all that is indicated above.

Unit 3: Northern Biogeography

Required Readings
Hebert, Paul D. N., and Judy Wearing Wilde , eds. “Animals.” Canada’s Polar Life (website). Guelph, ON: University of Guelph, CyberNatural Software, 2002. Under Organisms, go to Animals

Under Birds read:
  • Adaptations (all subsections)
  • Cool Facts (all subsections)
  • Biology (only the Introduction subsections)
Under Fish read:
  • Adaptations (all subsections)
  • Cool Facts (all subsections)
  • Biology (read only the Diversity and Evolution, and Ecology subsections)
Under Invertebrates read:
  • Adaptation (all subsections)
  • Cool Facts (all subsections)
Under Mammals read:
  • Adaptation (all subsections)
  • Cool Facts (all subsections)
Feel free to browse the rest but know you are not responsible for it.

Unit 4: Northern Historical Geography

Required Readings
Abel, Kerry, and Ken S. Coates. “Introduction: The North and the Nation.” Northern Visions: New Perspectives on the North in Canadian History. Ed. Kerry Abel and Ken S. Coates. Peterborough, ON: Broadview. 7–21.
Tetso, John. “How the Mackenzie River was Made: Translation of a Slavey legend.” Canada's Changing North. Ed. W. C. Wonders. Montreal and Kingston: McGill–Queen’s UP, 2003. 21–23.

Unit 5: Social Geography: Settlement, Aboriginal Culture, and Contemporary Northern Society

Required Readings
Donaldson, S. G., et al. “Environmental Contaminants and Human Health in the Canadian Arctic.” Science of the Total Environment 408.22 (October 2010): 5165–5234.
Christensen, Julia. “’They want a different life’: Rural Northern Settlement Dynamics and Pathways to Homelessness in Yellowknife and Inuvik, Northwest Territories.” The Canadian Geographer 56.4 (Winter 2012): 419–438.

Unit 6: The Northern Economy: Renewable and Non-Renewable Resource Development

Required Readings
CBC News. “Mackenzie Valley Pipeline: 37 years of negotiation.” CBC News. Tuesday, January 11, 2011. 26 June, 2013.
Mandel-Campbell, Andrea. “Rough Trade.” The Walrus 1.4 (April/May 2004): 36–49.
Hall, Rebecca. “Diamond Mining in Canada’s Northwest Territories: A Colonial Continuity.” Antipode 45.2 (2012): 376–393.
Robinson, Michael, and Elmer Ghostkeeper. "Native and Local Economics: A Consideration of Economic Evolution and the Next Economy." Arctic 40.2 (June 1987): 138-144.
Supplementary Readings
The Berger Inquiry is considered by many to be a landmark public inquiry not only for the kind of participation it allowed and encouraged from northern Indigenous peoples, but also for the nature of the insights it captured and the conclusions Mr. Justice Thomas Berger formulated based on this information. The Inquiry dealt largely with a proposal put forth by Canadian Arctic Gas Pipeline (a consortium of large oil companies including Shell, Exxon, and TransCanada Pipelines), to build a gas pipeline from Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay across northern Yukon to the Mackenzie Delta, and then south through the Mackenzie Valley to Alberta. Justice Berger held not only formal hearings in which expert evidence was presented, but also held informal community hearings designed to capture local opinion about not only the pipeline proposal, but general concerns about northern development and its effects on native society. Berger’s recommendations were presented in two separate volumes: the first, Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland (and considered by most to be the report) covered the basic commentary on public policy issues in Canada’s North, and the second, released six months later, detailed the technical aspects of the project. The controversy surrounding the report focused on Berger’s two principal recommendations: that pipelines should be permanently prohibited from crossing the environmentally fragile North Slope of the Mackenzie Valley, and that any pipeline in the region should be delayed for ten years to allow for native land claims to be settled.

These short videos give some sense of the details of the inquiry and its importance in giving voice to northern peoples and raising concerns about development in northern Canada.

Unit 7: The Environmental Impacts of Industrial Development in the North

Required Readings
Wristen, Karen. “One ‘Dirty Dozen’ Down, More to Go.” Northern Perspectives 27.3 (Fall/Winter 2002): 1.

Nadasdy, Paul. “Re-Evaluating the Co-Management Success Story.” Arctic 56.4 (December 2003): 367–380.

Unit 8: Political Geography: Territorial Politics, Geopolitics, and Circumpolar Initiatives

Required Readings
Myers, Heather. “Changing Environment, Changing Times: Environmental Issues and Political Action in the Canadian North.” Environment 43.6 (July/August 2001): 32–44.
Byers, Michael. “Chapter One: Why Sovereignty Matters.” Who Owns the Arctic? Understanding Sovereignty Disputes in the North. Saint-Lazare, Quebec: Douglas and McIntyre, 2009.
Young, Oran R. “The Internationalization of the Circumpolar North: Charting a Course for the 21st Century.” TheArcticIs . . . a web resource on human-environment relationships in the Arctic. Stefansson Arctic Institute, 2000.

Unit 9: The Future of the North: More of the Same or on the Road to Sustainability?