Cypress Hills (Canada)

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Cypress Hills
CypressHills1.JPG
The Cypress Hills
Elevation 1,468 m (4,816 ft)
Location
Cypress Hills is located in Canada
Cypress Hills
Cypress Hills
Alberta / Saskatchewan, Canada
Coordinates 49°37′48″N 110°21′34″W / 49.63000°N 110.35944°W / 49.63000; -110.35944Coordinates: 49°37′48″N 110°21′34″W / 49.63000°N 110.35944°W / 49.63000; -110.35944

The Cypress Hills are a geographical region of hills in southwestern Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta, Canada.

The highest point in the Cypress Hills is at Head of the Mountain in Alberta at 1,466 metres (4,810 ft). The highest point in Saskatchewan is at 1,392 m (4,567 ft). Its location is at Lookout Point (49°33′N 109°59′W / 49.550°N 109.983°W / 49.550; -109.983).[1]

Name[edit]

The Cypress Hills have been known by a wide number of native and European names throughout their history. An 1882 Blackfoot–English dictionary written by C. M. Lanning provided the Blackfoot name I-kim-e-kooy, which translates as "striped earth" or "earth over earth". The Cree name, in use at the same time, was Manâtakâw, (spelled in a variety of anglicized forms including "Mun-a-tuh-gow"), sometimes said to mean "beautiful upland" but more accurately referring to "an area to be respected, protected, taken care of and/or taken care with". The Assiniboine name is wazíȟe .[2] Early Métis hunters, who spoke a variation of French, called the hills les montagnes des Cyprès, in reference to the abundance of jack pine trees. In the Canadian French spoken by the Métis, the jack pine is called cyprès,[3] although it is not a true cypress tree. The English translation is Cypress Hills.[4]

Geology[edit]

The hills are not true mountains but are rather the remnants of erosion of a Tertiary plateau of sediment formed during the initial uplift of the Rocky Mountains. This uplift caused the plain above which the hills now rise to be elevated, with the result that rivers flowing to the north and south eroded most of the softer sediments onto the lower part of the Great Plains. Today, the Cypress Hills form a major drainage divide separating rivers draining to the Gulf of Mexico (via the Missouri River) from those draining to Hudson Bay and James Bay via the Nelson River; thus the Cypress Hills form a water divide. There is a ranch northwest of Eastend, Saskatchewan, called Dividing Springs Ranch; the water from this spring goes both south to Gulf of Mexico and north to Hudson Bay.

Because they formed a suture zone between the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets, the Cypress Hills are the northernmost point in North America that remained south of the continental ice sheets during the Wisconsin glaciation. In fact, along with northern Yukon, Banks Island, some nunataks (e.g. on the Gaspé Peninsula and western Newfoundland), parts of Haida Gwaii, and possibly the Brooks Peninsula, the hills and their southern slopes are the only unglaciated land in present-day Canada. This gives them an appearance very different from the typical "alpine" mountains of most of Canada, with a flat top and steep sides. This suggests that during a very severe glaciation of the Pre-Illinoian Stage the hills would have become a true nunatak, like the serpentinite hills of Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland.

The undulating terrain comes from a series of morainal ridges composed of glacial till deposited when a glacier paused during its retreat 15,000 years ago.[5]

Ecology[edit]

The Cypress Hills

The hills, because of the higher precipitation they receive, support extensive forest and also some rare fescue grassland. Most of the flora is shared with the mountains in states such as Montana and Wyoming rather than with the rest of Canada. The altitude of the hills, which is similar to the altitude of Banff also shares some similar flora and fauna with the Alberta mountain parks. Southern facing slopes tend to support prairie, northern slopes are covered with forest.

The hills currently host cougars.

Cattle graze throughout the Cypress Hills Provincial Park, especially on the prairie on the flat tops of the Hills, though stream bank damage in the spruce/lodgepole pine/aspen forest indicates their presence everywhere in the Hills.

History[edit]

Historically the Cypress Hills were a meeting and conflict area for various Native American and First Nations peoples including the Cree, Assiniboine, Atsina, Blackfoot, Saulteaux, Sioux, Crow, and others. During the 19th century Métis settled in the hills, hunting and often wintering there. The Cypress Hills Massacre, a key event in Canadian history leading to the creation of the North-West Mounted Police occurred in the hills when a group of American wolvers from Montana massacred an Assiniboine encampment. Fort Walsh was established to bring law and order to the Canadian border region.

Interprovincial park[edit]

The Cypress Hills Provincial Park was established in 1951 in this area, and it was extended into Saskatchewan in 1989, as Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.[6]

The Alberta portion of the Cypress Hills contains the tourist destination of Elkwater, a community with campground facilities located on the southern shore of Elkwater Lake. The townsite is mainly made up of summer cabins. Elkwater is located about 70 km southeast of Medicine Hat.

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Cypress Hills
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.5
(56.3)
18
(64)
19
(66)
26
(79)
40.5
(104.9)
34
(93)
34
(93)
33.5
(92.3)
32
(90)
28
(82)
21
(70)
15
(59)
40.5
(104.9)
Average high °C (°F) −3.4
(25.9)
−1.2
(29.8)
2.7
(36.9)
9.8
(49.6)
15.4
(59.7)
19.3
(66.7)
22.5
(72.5)
22.8
(73)
16.5
(61.7)
10.3
(50.5)
1.2
(34.2)
−2.9
(26.8)
9.4
(48.9)
Daily mean °C (°F) −9.5
(14.9)
−7
(19)
−2.7
(27.1)
3.5
(38.3)
8.8
(47.8)
12.7
(54.9)
15.4
(59.7)
15.3
(59.5)
9.5
(49.1)
4
(39)
−4
(25)
−8.7
(16.3)
3.1
(37.6)
Average low °C (°F) −15.6
(3.9)
−12.9
(8.8)
−8
(18)
−2.9
(26.8)
2.3
(36.1)
6.2
(43.2)
8.2
(46.8)
7.6
(45.7)
2.5
(36.5)
−2.3
(27.9)
−9.1
(15.6)
−14.4
(6.1)
−3.2
(26.2)
Record low °C (°F) −41
(−42)
−40
(−40)
−35
(−31)
−26.5
(−15.7)
−11.5
(11.3)
−3
(27)
0
(32)
−4
(25)
−10
(14)
−28.5
(−19.3)
−39
(−38)
−41.5
(−42.7)
−41.5
(−42.7)
Precipitation mm (inches) 35.1
(1.382)
28.1
(1.106)
41.9
(1.65)
40.5
(1.594)
76.8
(3.024)
96.8
(3.811)
69.6
(2.74)
47.5
(1.87)
58.2
(2.291)
36.7
(1.445)
35.1
(1.382)
40.7
(1.602)
606.8
(23.89)
Source: Environment Canada[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Table 15.3 Selected principal heights, by province and territory". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  2. ^ "AISRI Dictionary Database Search--prototype version. Assiniboine.". American Indian Studies Research Institute. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  3. ^ http://aimfc.rncan.gc.ca/arbres/fiche/43
  4. ^ Johnston, Alex (1987). Plants and the Blackfoot. Lethbridge: Lethbridge Historical Society. p. 6. ISBN 978-0919224728. 
  5. ^ Gray, Charlotte (2004). The Museum Called Canada: 25 Rooms of Wonder. Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-31220-8. 
  6. ^ "Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park". Government of Saskatchewan. Archived from the original on 13 March 2006. 
  7. ^ Environment Canada Canadian Climate Normals 1971–2000, accessed 24 July 2010
  • [1] Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan