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International Handbook of Urban Systems

Studies of Urbanization and Migration in Advanced and Developing Countries

Edited by H. S. Geyer

This authoritative Handbook provides a comprehensive account of migration and economic development throughout the world, in both developed and developing countries. Some of the world’s most experienced researchers in this field look at how population redistribution patterns have impacted on urban development in a wide selection of advanced and developing countries in all the major regions of the world over the past half century.
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Chapter 15: The dynamics of the Canadian urban system

L.S Bourne and J.W Simmons


L. S. Bourne and J. W. Simmons SETTING THE CONTEXT Canada presents a challenge to conventional theories of growth and change within a system of cities, and this makes it an informative case study. The country is vast (9.7 million sq. kilometres), spanning an entire continent, physically diverse, and relatively thinly populated (3 1 million). The modem settlement system is also relatively young and therefore is still evolving. Since European colonization, the settled landscape has unfolded fiom east to west over some 300 years in a distinctively sequential and linear fashion, and is characterized by strong core-periphery contrasts. Today most of the population lives in a strip of territory roughly 300 kilometres wide along the border with the United States. Indeed, sharing a continent with the world’s largest economy and arguably most aggressive culture, presents a series of challenges and opportunities for, and constraints on, territorial development in general and the growth of the Canadian urban system in particular. This chapter examines the recent evolution of the Canadian urban system with special emphasis on two themes: the intersection of diverse processes in shaping the urban system, and the crucial role of external factors in defining the direction of urban change. The first section of the paper develops a conceptual framework that elaborates on the role of external determinants of change. This is followed by a brief overview of the attributes of the Canadian urban system and the significant processes that have reorganized that system over one hundred years, and especially...

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