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Central Boreal Uplands

Central Boreal Uplands


A rugged wilderness of endless spruce forests and quaking bogs, of rock-rimmed lakes and tumbling rivers teeming with walleye, pike and trout, of moose and beaver and hordes of black flies.

Oiseau Bay, Pukaskwa National Park
Oiseau Bay,
Pukaskwa National Park

This region is synonymous with the Canadian Shield, the quintessential Canadian landscape. The combination of rock, water and dense forest makes this region tough country to walk in. But it is a land made for the canoe.


This is a raw new land, still healing from the effects of the Ice Age. The ancient granite and gneiss of the Canadian Shield, lying exposed or covered by a thin acidic layer of grey-brown soil, give the entire region its characteristic rugged relief. The Pre-cambrian rock is the clay from which this landscape of rough hills was formed, but it was the glaciers that gave the land its final shape.

Cascade River, Pukaskwa National Park
Cascade River,
Pukaskwa National Park

The legacy of the glaciers can be seen everywhere - in the tortuous watersheds and the myriad of lakes, ponds and bogs; in the exposed glacier-scarred bedrock; and in the moraines and drumlins hidden under the never-ending spruce forests.

One of the few anomalies in the uniformity of this region is the Athabasca Sand Dunes. These are the most extensive sand dunes in Canada. Open shifting dunes intermix with stabilized dunes, resulting in a unique landscape characterized by an unusual assemblage of plants, many of which are restricted to this site.


National Parks System Plan, 3 rd Edition

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