The Canadian northland is not just big it is immense. The Northwest Territories cover 1.3 million sq miles; the Yukon Territory 200,000 sq miles. Together they make up 40 percent of our country. Their southern boundary is at the 60th parallel, 1,200 miles north of New York City. From there to Cape Aldrich on the northern tip of Ellesmere island is a distance of another 1,500 miles. That is the distance from Galveston to Boston. From Cape Dyer, on the coast of Baffin Island in the east, to the Alaskan border in the west is a distance of about 2,000 miles or about the distance between New York City and Salt Lake City.
The region has a widely varied topography. Mount Logan in the west is nearly 20,000 ft. in height North of the tree line stretches the vastness of the Arctic tundra. Beyond the northern coastline lie the islands of the Arctic Archipelago.
The dominating geological feature of the north is the Canadian Shield. Formed in the Pre-Cambrian period, it rims Hudson Bay, extending from the St. period, it rims Hudson Bay, extending from the St. Lawrence River to the shores of the Arctic Ocean. Worn down through the ages and stripped by the vast glacial mass of the last ice age, the Shield is what remains after the ice carried away the topsoil gouged the land and rounded the hills, leaving a land dotted with innumerable lakes. West of the Shield are the younger formations of sediment that form the Mackenzie Valley and most of the Arctic Islands. Between the Shield and these younger formations lies the great Mackenzie River. This immense waterway drains an area the size of the continent of Europe. It is one of the principal components of the transportation system of the North. In summer it carries the bargeloads of materials which sustain the life of the Western Arctic; in winter it is a ribbon of ice. The Shield is the formation that includes the most valuable mineral areas to have been developed in Canada. Sudbury, Noranda, Kirkland Lake, Timmins, Blind River, Thompson and Flin Flon are all in this ancient mountain range.
The North has another area rich in minerals. It is the Cordillera Range, the backbone of the Americas, that extends from the western United States through British Columbia to form the bulk of the Yukon Territory. These rugged mountains may very well prove as rich in minerals as the Shield. On northern prove as rich in minerals as the Shield. On northern Baffin Island, at Mary River, lies one of the world's richest deposits of iron ore. When the right combination of capital, shipping technology and world markets come together this great deposit will be developed, mid that time is not too far off in the future.
In contrast to its vast area and large resource potential the Canadian North is underpopulated. it potential the Canadian North is underpopulated. it has only 60,000 people, over half of whom are Indians and Eskimos who live around the edges of the Northern ocean and deep in the Northern forests. These people are going through the difficult process of adapting themselves to the modern technologies and ways of life being introduced from southern Canada, while at the same time attempting to maintain their own identity and culture. This period of transition from one way of life to another is very difficult, but in many ways unavoidable. Our task is to ensure that the effects of such a change are positive, not negative, and herein lies the challenge.
The Canadian North can be regarded as one of the underdeveloped regions of the world. In contrast to most underdeveloped regions it is not overcrowded and the population is not increasing at a rate equal to the rate of increase of economic growth. It is part of a country that is well advanced in technology and has the capability, both financial and human, to apply this knowledge in its northern areas. But we cannot do it alone. To develop the great potential of the North, to overcome the great technical challenge of exploration, production, and transportation, we owe gong to need help; we are going to need skills; we are going to need capital.
The greatness of Canada has been its openness as a country. We have no desire to build walls between ourselves and the outside world. In Northern Canada, we have benefited by major foreign investment from U. S., French, Japanese, British, German and Belgian concerns.