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The geographic expanse of the Battle of the Atlantic theatre of operation was immense. The focus of the Canadian area of operation in the North Atlantic was over 3 million square miles and included regions of climatic extremes.

From the Gulf of the St. Lawrence to the Western Approaches of Great Britain, the fiords of Norway, and the little known coastline of Soviet Russia’s Kola region, young Canadian sailors experienced the impact of geographic factors such as distance, latitude, longitude, climate and settlement patterns. The study of the battle is ideal reinforcement of how geography influences history.

Despite the 60,000 kms of coast line and three oceans Canada did not have a major maritime presence. The St. Lawrence and the Gulf of St. Lawrence became areas of active operation inside Canadian territory. The cities and towns of the Maritimes and Quebec became strategic ports and ship building locations.

The St. Lawrence and its approaches were an important communication link with the North America industrial heartland. The British colony of Newfoundland provided another pivotal geographic area in the defense of the North American convoy systems.

From the embattled east coast, across the thousands of kilometers that made up the nation, hundreds of communities had a vital role in the Battle. From the shipyards of Esquimalt and Vancouver on the Pacific, to the towns and cities of the Prairies named for the RCN corvettes, frigates and minesweepers, there is a national geographic ownership in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The theatre of operation also covers the rugged post-glacial features of Norway that were havens for U-boats and German surface raiders. The stark northern regions of Greenland, Iceland and the many islands of the British Isles, provides the physical and political geographer with interesting study opportunities.

Sample Assignments