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Essay/Term paper: The relevancy of the heartland - hinterland distinction in canada's economic geography

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Geography

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The Relevancy of the Heartland - Hinterland Distinction in Canada's Economic
Geography


Until the early 20th century, Canada was primarily an agricultural nation.
Since then it has become one of the most highly industrialized countries in the
world as a direct result of the development of the "heartland'. To a large
extent the manufacturing industries present in the heartland are supplied with
raw materials produced by the agricultural, mining, forestry, and fishing
sectors of the Canadian economy, a region known as the "hinterland'. The "
heartland-hinterland' concept in Canada describes patterns of economic power,
namely, where economic power and control resides within the nation. Thus, the
heartland-hinterland concept distinguishes raw-material and staple-producing
hinterlands from the capital service industrial heartland and reveals the
metropolis or dominating city of the system. At a national scale, the Canadian
metropolis is Toronto, and the region with the most influence is the Great
Lakes-St. Lawrence Lowlands. But while immense influence radiates outward from
the metropolis located in the heartland, the relationship between hinterland and
heartland is one of intimate mutual dependency. In modern Canadian economics,
neither region can exist without each other, and the well-being of one directly
affects the other. These two regions show remarkable contrasts, yet they are to
a large extent interdependent on each other, clearly suggesting that the
heartland-hinterland distinction is quite relevant in terms of Canada's economic
geography.

Upon discussing the importance of the heartland-hinterland in Canada, it is
necessary to discuss what each term refers to. According to McCann the
heartland is an area "… which possesses favourable physical qualities and grant
food accessibility to markets; they display a diversified profile of secondary,
tertiary, and quaternary industries; they are characterized by a highly
urbanized and concentrated population which participates in a well-integrated
urban system; they are well advanced along the development path and possess the
capacity for innovative change." Literally, hinterland means "the land behind',
the area from which a heartland draws its raw materials and which, in turn,
serves as a market for the heartland's manufactured goods.

The demographic and economic characteristics of Canada's heartland are that it
contains over 50% of the nation's population and 70% of its manufacturing
industries in only 14% of the nation's area. Canada's heartland is southern
Ontario and Quebec stretching from Quebec City to Windsor. This heartland,
occupying the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Lowlands, coincides with several
favourable physical characteristics such as fertile Class 1 and 2 soils in
addition to humid continental climate for optimal agricultural conditions.
However, the "hinterland regions display harsher or more limiting physical
characteristics. The Cordillera, Interior Plains, Canadian Shield, and
Appalachian regions yield tremendous resource wealth, but their soils,
vegetation, and climatic patterns do not favor wide distributions of population
and concentrated development." Canada's heartland is illustrated on the map
below.

With the overwhelming presence of the above-mentioned features, this region
dominates Canada's economy due to diverse agricultural production as well as its
accessibility to the heartland of its major international trade partner, the
Untied States, which is focused around New York City. "It is the heartland
that creates the demand for staple commodities, supplying the hinterland, in
turn, with capital, labour, technology, and entrepreneurship, those factors of
production which are so essential for the initial growth and sustained
development of the hinterland."

The relationship between the hinterland and heartland is complex. Resources
flowing from hinterland areas largely go directly to other countries without
passing through the heartland. Yet, it is from the heartland that an economy's
organization, financial means, equipment, and technical services arise and are
paid for by the sale of the resources. Thus, it can be said the hinterland
contributes to the support and development of the heartland. The hinterland
also benefits from the interaction of its well-developed internal linkages and a
large and concentrated workforce that provides a manufacturing core and
specialized services.

Another important aspect of the heartland-hinterland distinction is with respect
to regional structure, which involves the interaction of both regions.
"Locational forces and even policy decisions of a political nature draw
secondary manufacturing and service activities, as well as skilled labour force,
to core areas." The concentration of corporate headquarters and financial
institutions in the core also causes a flow of profits from the hinterland to
the heartland, ultimately causing difficulty for the generation of capital
within the periphery. These circumstances which arise from the root of the
hinterland underdevelopment problem are difficult to overcome without political
involvement. Although government assistance by means of transfer payments and
developmental projects helps the underdeveloped hinterland, it can by no means
resolve the apparent disparities present among the core and periphery regions in
Canada. "If the disparities are to be diminished, it seems more likely that
hinterland areas must develop generally according to the ways in which heartland
areas have developed, although the specific growth factors need not, nor would
they likely, be the same." A hinterland region, wishing to achieve heartland
status, must be capable of innovating change and wielding power, while
progressing beyond the staple production phase for the heartland.

In terms of merchandise trade, Canada is an importer of end-products while the
export of crude materials indicate the staple nature of the export economy. The
hinterland dominates the export trade in crude materials such as oil, natural
gas, and forest products. Fabricated materials are largely produced in the core,
and most of the products (steel, copper wire, refined nickel, and rolled
aluminum) are exported. Canada's exports therefore are primarily staples from
the hinterland, and as the amount of processing increases the role of the
heartland becomes more dominant.

In terms of imports, crude materials, largely crude oil to eastern Canada and
subtropical foods, are the main imports. Fabricated materials and end-products
imported from the United States were predominantly motor vehicles and auto parts,
and the exports from Canada also involved the motor vehicle sector. Thus, the
hinterland clearly dominates exports of crude materials and foods, while the
heartland is the centre of both exports and imports of fabricated products.

The economic emphasis of the `heartland-hinterland' distinction is quite
pronounced in Canada. Various aspects of the Canadian economy dictate the
undoubted relevance between the core and periphery of this vast nation. At one
extreme, the heartland is a thriving economic region, with the Golden Horseshoe
region acting as the collective metropolis, whereas the hinterland, "the rest of
Canada', is characterized by primary resource production, scattered population
and a limited innovative capacity. Despite the interdependency of these two
regions, they are nonetheless separated by both economic and physical factors,
thereby preventing the union of a common region. Therefore, there is an
unquestionable "heartland-hinterland' distinction present in Canada in terms of
its economic geography.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Matthews, G. 1995. Canada and the World, An Atlas Resource, 2nd Edition.
Scarborough: Prentice Hall Canada Inc.

McCann, L.D. 1987. Heartland and Hinterland. Scarborough: Prentice-Hall
Canada Inc.





 

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