Canadian Geographic
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This water-rich land

Harnessing the waters

More than 60 percent of Canada’s energy needs are supplied by water power. Several factors can influence a region’s hydroelectric development: high precipitation, sloping landforms, and the proximity to markets. The Atlantic drainage basin was the site of the first hydroelectric power plants, built in the early 1900s at Niagara Falls, Trois-Rivières, and Shawinigan. But most hydroelectric production is found within the Canadian Shield area of the Hudson Bay basin. This area offers ideal conditions: Canada’s highest streamflow, sudden drops in land elevation, and mighty rivers. The rivers of the Pacific basin, with the second highest streamflow (due to high precipitation along the coast), have also been extensively harnessed. By the 1960s, virtually all the power sites close to markets had been developed. Since then, major hydroelectric power plants have been situated at remote northern sites such as Quebec’s Manicouagan River. Canada’s largest hydroelectric generating stations and their capacity include: LG-2 on La Grande Rivière, Quebec (5,328 Megawatts); Churchill Falls on the Churchill River, Nfld. (5,225 Megawatts); and Gordon M. Shrum on the Peace River, B.C. (2,416 Megawatts), the arctic drainage basin’s only major hydroelectric development. To date, only 40 percent of Canada’s hydroelectric potential has been realized.

For details on wind and solar power in Canada click here.


Dams in Canada This self-launching slide show has a number of photos of major dams in Canada, and ends with an illustrated menu for viewers to choose different details:
• Purposes of large dams in Canada
• Summary of Canadian large dams heights
• Distribution of large dams in Canada
• Images
• Diagrams.


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Quiz :

How much land do glaciers presently cover in Canada?

200,000 km2
2,000 km2
20,000 km2