Sunday, May 9, 2010

Finding the 100th Meridian

Listening to that Tragically Hip song, I decided to put some real literal facts into the lyric. They don't go "At the hundredth meridian" for nothing, obviously. They mean something, the whole song does.

Getting the whole story, it seems that it's about the great prairies of the Canadian landscape. There are many other meanings to the song, but I'm not going to get into them here; it's not a review I'm writing, but something else entirely.

Properly, the chorus goes on to say that at the hundredth meridian is where the great plains begin. What I wanted to do was find the actual meridian.

To me, it meant 100° longitude. Where was 100° longitude? I couldn't use Google Earth or Maps to find it; all they gave me was addresses. That or I didn't know how to input it properly (much more likely). So I resorted to the old fashioned way.

Before I figured it out, I believed that it would very likely be along the border of Manitoba and Ontario. Right at the line where the first prairie province begins. I was wrong, however.

After some digging, I located my globe, pinpointed the longitude line, and ran it up through Canada.

The 100th meridian runs straight through Manitoba, just slightly west of Winnipeg. Not at the border. Right through the middle. That's where it actually is. So, apparently, the great plains begin halfway through Manitoba, and continue west through Saskatchewan and Alberta.


Well, when you think of it, it's logical. Manitoba's best farmland only makes up 12% of overall Canadian farmland. The rest is lakes (110,000). Saskatchewan probably has the most area for farms, as well as Alberta (though they probably do better in oil, and they have scenic mountains to draw everyone to them).

It's interesting though.

Justin C.

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