As one of the largest countries in the world (2nd, actually, behind Russia), the geographical facts of Canada should include some major features and landmarks. Much of the country is massive wide open space but with the Rockies on one seaboard, the Great St. Lawrence River on the other, and Hudson Bay and all those islands, there’s great scope for variety in the country’s topography. Come join me as we embark on a tour of the key geographical facts of Canada.
1. Longest River in Canada
To start these eight geographical facts of Canada, it’s the longest river which captures our attentions. The Mackenzie River is the largest and longest in Canada and flows through the Northwest Territories over the isolated tundra and forest areas. At 1,080 miles long, it drains a vast area almost the size of Indonesia.
2. Highest Mountain in Canada
Mount Logan in the Yukon is the tallest mountain in Canada, and it is one which is still growing taller. Mount Logan is also the second tallest mountain in North America, behind Mount McKinley in Alaska, and was named after the founder of the Geological Survey of Canada, Sir William Edmond Logan. It’s the source of the Logan and Hubbard Glaciers and currently stands at 19,551 feet, although its continued growth makes this only a ballpark figure.
3. Biggest Waterfall in Canada
The title of biggest waterfall in Canada is a controversial topic because Niagara Falls sits on the US border, so size is relative to whether the falls are measured in terms of entire span or just the Canadian bit. Either way, Niagara is an impressive statistic. For height, the tallest waterfall in Canada is Della Falls near Port Alberni in British Columbia. Reaching the falls is hazardous; either catching a boat across the Great Central Lake or a helicopter to the 1,443 foot-high cascades are the only ways.
4. Largest Glacier in Canada
With much land mass within the Arctic Circle, it’s no surprise that the geography of Canada features snow and ice. The Columbia Icefield in the Canadian Rockies attracts thousands of tourists every year, where the Athabasca Glacier is the main attraction. Covering a huge 2.3 square miles and at 3.7 miles long, this is the largest glacier in Canada and the most visited. Unfortunately, global warming means this icy behemoth is receding by up to 10 feet every year.
5. Highest Volcano in Canada
The Mount Edziza stratovolcano is a major obsidian resourcing area and is where ancient Canadians made their powerful tools and weapons. It’s 9,121 feet high and has three main peaks surrounding it on the north and south sides. Mount Silverthrone in British Columbia is currently vying for the title of highest volcano at 9,400 feet high, but scientists have yet to confirm whether the mountain is a volcano or not.
6. Largest Lake in Canada
The Great Bear Lake is easily the largest lake in Canada at 31,153 kilometers squared in the Northwestern Territories. The First Nations named the lake and were literally known as the ‘grizzly bear water people.’ It’s the eighth largest in the world and the fourth largest on the North American continent. Lake Huron and Lake Superior are technically larger lakes, but they are discounted from this list of geographical facts of Canada as they are not wholly within the country.
7. Longest Cave in Canada
Castleguard Cave is a limestone cave with 12,650 miles of snaking passages, and those are just the ones which have been surveyed. It’s the fifth deepest cave in Canada and has a rather ominous entrance at the north end of Banff National Park, where water gushes out of the cave’s mouth. It gradually ascends upwards and determined cave adventurers can find their way below the Columbia Icefield where it finally terminates. There are two underground camps for cavers and it can take almost five days to reach the end via the shortest route.
8. Biggest Island in Canada
Canada is famous for its many islands, but it's Baffin Island, with an area of 195,928 square miles, which takes the title of largest island in Canada. Named after William Baffin, an English explorer, this island is the fifth largest in the world and was a major navigating point for Norse explorers in the Pre-Columbian era. Its 11,000 citizens also have the honor of potentially living in the place where Helluland in the Icelandic sagas is located.
Some of these facts of Canada’s geography are quite powerful aren’t they? Yet, possibly not unexpected, given that Canada covers 3.85 million square miles. Amazing country, amazing geography and amazing scenery! Which of these did you find most fascinating?