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Northwestern Boreal Uplands


Northwestern Boreal Uplands


Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake
© Parks Canada

"LAND OF LITTLE STICKS"

Lakes, lakes, lakes innumerable... The first bay we investigated ... developed into a baffling labyrinth of small enclosures and twisting points, islands and channels, hills, knolls, promontories, and even lakelets within lakes. God help the man who gets off the route in this country! Nothing - nothing to go by ... just thousands and thousands of Caribou trails.

from the journals of P.G. Downes,
on a trip from Reindeer Lake to Nueltin Lake in 1939.

THE LAND:

Ridge after low ridge of granite or gneiss, innumerable interlocking lakes and tumbling rivers, endless spruce forests - the edge of the Canadian Shield marks the western boundary of this region. Here the region abuts onto the Great Shield-edge lakes - Great Bear, Great Slave, Athabasca, Wollaston, Reindeer, South Indian - famous for their interlocking convolutions of islands and bays.

The continental ice sheets have left their footprints on the entire region in the form of glacier-scoured lake-filled basins and large expanses of exposed bedrock smoothed and scoured by the passing glaciers.

Erratics, boulders left behind by the melting of the glaciers, are sprinkled liberally over the land, and massive eskers, up to 75 metres high, slither indiscriminately across lakes and over the land for tens of kilometres. Glacial erosion and deposition have left an intricate maze of labyrinthine lakes connected by short sections of rapid-strewn rivers.

Hoarfrost River
Hoarfrost River
© Parks Canada

VEGETATION:

This is a region of spruce forests. In the more temperate parts of the region, the shores of the lakes and rivers are heavily treed with dense forests of black spruce, white spruce and white birch. A closed-canopy forest of spruce and jack pine, with an understory of feather moss, lichens, blueberries and cranberries, covers the southern part of the region. Toward the north are open woodlands of black spruce spaced 5-10 metres apart and rarely reaching 15 metres in height. A mat of lichens up to 15 centimetres thick carpets the ground between the trees. On the northern fringe of the region, even more open stands of stunted black spruce and tamarack with a ground cover of dwarf tundra vegetation form a transition to the barrenlands.


National Parks System Plan, 3rd Edition

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