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Economic Minerals and Mining Industry of Canada

The Dominion of Canada occupies the northern portion of the continent of North America—exclusive of Alaska: all the Arctic islands between Greenland and the 141st meridian being included within its boundaries. Its area is about 3,729,665 square mile-.1 The island of Newfoundland—including some of the lesser islands on the east coast of the continent—and a narrow strip of land along the adjacent Labrador coast, forms a separate colony, under the British Grown. Inclusive of Newfoundland, British North America has an area of about 3,772,000 square miles. Canada extends from east to west about 3500 miles, and from north to south about 1400 miles. The most southern point is in Essex countv, Province of Ontario, near latitude 42° 16' N.

This large area necessarily presents great diversity of topographic features, and strata of nearly all geological horizons are represented. On the basis of certain structural features, it is possible to recognize six great physiographic units. The greatest single structural unit covers an area of over 2,000.000 square miles. This unit extends, in a more or less U shape, from Labrador on the east to Coronation gulf on the west, bordering the great Hudson Bay depression. It is underlain by a mass of ancient crystalline rocks, very diverse, and highly metamorphosed—the roots of the most ancient mountain range on the continent. These mountains were probably the first land areas of the North American continent. The originally overlying portions were gradually removed by various erosive processes, until now, throughout this vast area, mountain forms are no longer seen; but their basal structures still remain. So great has been erosion, that the region is now characterized almost everywhere by the existence of remarkably even skylines. Here and there, low domed residuals rise a few feet above the general level, making notable breaks in the otherwise nearly even surface.

•In detail the topography of this area is characterized by innumerably small domes and basins, with a relief of only a few hundred feet or less. Scattered over its surface are numberless small and large lakes, with numerous streams, which exhibit many rapids and falls. Nowhere else in the world are small lakes and connecting streams so plentiful and so widely distributed. The greater portion of the southern part of the region is covered with dense forests of spruce. The higher portions of the area in Labrador, and the extreme northern portions of both the eastern and western limbs, are nearly destitute of trees; although some few occur in protected basins. The remarkably even skyline, and certain other features which characterize the region as a whole, have caused it to be designated the Laurentian Peneplain. It is, however, a very ancient peneplain, which has been elevated and partially dissected and denuded, producing the present hummocky topography. The elevation of the plane, as shown by the skylines, varies from about 500 feet above the sea-level to about 1.100 feet, a very considerable portion lying below the 1000 ft. contour. The area is sometimes known as the Laurentian Plateau.

This area is underlain by ancient crystalline rocks, ranging from the Laurentian to the Kewecnawan formations. It is a region of great potential importance as a producer of minerals of economic value. The mica and phosphate deposits of the Ottawa valley; the silver mines of Cobalt; the gold deposits of Porcupine; the nickel-copper deposits of Sudbury; and the iron mines of the Michipicoten district, all occur within this region. Its importance—already demonstrated as a source of such minerals as graphite, feldspar, mica, corundum, iron ores, both magnetites and hematites, silver, cobalt, copper, nickel, and gold—will, undoubtedly, be greatly extended in the future.

The Hudson Bay basin occupies a central depression in the Laurentian peneplain. The bay itself is a great inland sea, some 000 miles from east to west, and nearly 1000 miles from north to south. Bordering the southern and southwestern portion of this basin, is an area underlain by Palaeozoic rocks, sloping gently bayward, which may be designated the Hudson Bay Coastal Plain. At present this region is largely unexplored, but is known to contain deposits of rock salt and gypsum.

Southeast of the Laurentian plateau, including a portion of the province of Quebec (south of the St. Lawrence river and east of Sherbrooke) and the whole of the Maritime Provinces, we find the northern extremity of the belt of Appalachian mountain folds, which extends along the Atlantic coast of the continent. This area was termed the Acadian region by Dawson. It is underlain chiefly by Palaeozoic rocks, which have been subjected to considerable folding, and, afterwards, were degraded. On the extreme east, on the Xova Scotia coast, a number of basins contain residuals of the carboniferous system, in which very important coal fields occur. A larger but shallower basin of carboniferous rocks also occurs in Xew Brunswick. The other mineral products of this area are copper, gold, sulphur, gypsum, oil, gas, sandstones, limestones, clays, and building and ornamental stones of various kinds.

The next important physiographic unit is the ancient belted coastal plain which now forms the St. Lawrence drainage basin (the St. Lawrence basin). It extends from the city of Quebec to Lake Huron, and includes the St. Lawrence lowland in the vicinity of Montreal, and the lowland areas in the province of Ontario, adjacent to the great lakes. This region is underlain by Palaeozoic sediments-, limestones, sandstones, and shales. Its mineral products are salt, gypsum, natural gas, petroleum, building stones, brick clays, and the raw materials of various cements, limes, and mortars. This section is one of the most populous areas in Canada, and. although essentially an agricultural area, a very considerable percentage of the people are connected with the industries which arise through the occurrence of these natural products.

Westward of the Laurentian plateau, from the city of Winnipeg and Lake Winnipeg, we have the Great Plains area, or the Interior Continental Plateau, extending to the foothills of the Rocky mountains, a distance of about 000 miles. Northward from the United States boundary, at parallel 49° X.. to the Arctic ocean, is a distance of about 1000 miles. This area includes two great river basins: the Saskatchewan basin on the south, and the Mackenzie basin on the north, the divide between them lying not far from 50° N. latitude. The entire area is underlaid by sedimentary strata, ranging in age from early Palaeozoic to later Mesozoic. The southern part of the area, including the greater portion of the Saskatchewan basin, forms the great

wheat raising districts of Canada. While it is by no means all occupied, the country is dotted with small towns and settlements, and is traversed by numerous railways and their branch lines, including three transcontinental systems. The northern part of the area, including nearly the whole of the Mackenzie basin, is only partially explored, and contains very few inhabitants.

The southern parts produce natural gas, building stones, and the raw materials for cements and mortars. The northern part is known to contain deposits of rock salt, gypsum, coal, and tar sands, and it will also produce natural gas, and, probably, petroleum. The stream beds along the western edge of the area contain immense gravel deposits washed down from the mountains, some of which are known to be auriferous. The most important mineral product of the area, however, is lignite coal, which occurs very widely distributed over the western portion of the area, and especially in the southern parts; many of the seams are quite thick, and the deposits form an exceedingly important source of fuel for the western provinces of Canada.

The mountain belt of British Columbia and the Yukon constitute the next great physiographic unit. This is the northern portion of the great Cordilleran belt, which extends along the whole western side of the North American continent, from Central America to Alaska. The Canadian portion of the belt is about 1300 miles in length. On the eastern flank of this Cordilleran belt, we have the Rocky Mountain ranges, composed chiefly of Palaeozoic and Mesozoic rocks. This mountain belt is particularly important, because of the immense reserves of bituminous coal of Cretaceous age, found in many sections of the ranges.

Westward of the Rocky mountains, lie a series of mountain ranges, collectively designated as the Gold ranges. They are composed of Archean rocks, with which are associated granites and a great thickness of older Palaeozoic beds, all much disturbed and metamorphosed. Westward of these ranges lies a section of country with somewhat diversified topography, which is usually described as the Interior plateau of British Columbia. Its width from east to west is about 100 miles; its extent from north to south probably about 500 miles. It differs from the mountain ranges to the east chiefly in the lack of any lofty mountain peaks; its main elevation is about 3500 feet above sea-level. The plateau has been the seat of much volcanic action during Miocene times.

Beyond the plateau to the north the whole width of the Cordillera appears to be mountainous, about as far as the 59th parallel of latitude. Still farther north the ranges decline or diverge, and in the basin of the upper Yukon rolling or nearly flat land, at moderate elevations, again begins to occupy wide intervening tracts.

The western border of the Gordillera, along the Pacific coast, is formed by the Coast range. This range runs northward from near the estuary of the Fraser river to beyond the head of Lynn canal. It has a breadth of about 100 miles. It consists largely of granite batholiths. on the margins of which occur highly altered Palaeozoic sediments.

Beyond the coast range, near the edge of the continental plateau, a partly submerged range of mountain- forms Vancouver island and the Queen Charlotte islands. The rocks resemble those of the Coast range; but include also masses of Triassic and Cretaceous strata, which have participated in the folding. Lat'-r Miocene and Pliocene beds occur along some parts of the shores.

The Cordilleran belt of America is noted for its important deposits of economic minerals, especially silver, gold, and copper. In western Canada, it contains important copper, copper-gold, and silver deposits; and large returns have also been obtained from gold bearing gravels. Reference has already been made to the Cretaceous coal deposits of the eastern part of the belt. Similar deposits of Cretaceous age occur on Vancouver island, and have been for many years the most important source of fuel on the Pacific coast.

The Cordilleran region of Canada, when fully explored, is, undoubtedly, destined to become one of the most important mining sections of the world.

The following tabulated statement shows the mineral production in Canada according to the published records of the Division of Mineral Resources and Statistics of the Mines Branch. The plantities of metals shown include not only the product of refineries, etc., which is comparatively small, but also the metals contained in smelter products produced and the metals estimated as recovered from ores produced and shipped outside of Canada for treatment.

The metals are valued for statistical purposes at the market value of the refined product.

Non-metallic products are valued as shipped from the mines. The ton of 2,000 lbs. is used throughout.

A record of the production in each of the provinces will be found at the end of the report.

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