03 June 2004

Living in a smaller country

In recent months I have been back to the States more often than I normally would be in the same amount of time. Each time I am there I am freshly impressed with how much larger the US is than Canada. Although I was born and grew up in the US, I've become accustomed to living in a country with a much smaller population. Much of the US east of the Mississippi River is covered with huge stretches of populated territory each of which is often known to demographers as a megalopolis. Although originally coined to describe the region from Boston to Washington, DC, it has also been used to cover the Chicago to Pittsburgh region, as well as the west coast stretch from San Francisco to San Diego. In these three megalopoleis settlement is more or less continuous.

By contrast, the entire province of Ontario has a population comparable to the Chicago metropolitan area. Southern Ontario has by far the largest concentration of people in the whole of Canada. Yet even here open spaces abound. From our home in Hamilton we can drive some five or ten minutes and we are downtown in a bustling urban environment. In another direction the same amount of time will bring us to farm land. In yet another direction we can quickly arrive at forested parkland and waterfalls. In half an hour we are at the beach. I have come to value this sheer diversity of landscapes all the more for not having grown up with it.

Hamilton Naturalists' Club

Webster's Falls, Hamilton, Ontario

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