In addition to exploring the nation's history, negotiating complicated relationships with Britain and the United States, and examining issues of race and ethnicity, Canadian writers, in a quest to establish a sense of common identity following Confederation, were also discovering the influence of the natural environment on notions of national character. Canada's environment had an enormous impact on the manner in which people from both within and outside its borders viewed the country. Enveloped in a cloud of exaggeration, idealism, and misconception, Canada's landscape was a source of both pride and ridicule. Amid the many portrayals and stereotypes of the Canadian landscape, the image of Canada as a land of rugged wilderness prevailed and continues to dominate to this day. This resulted in part from the fact that, until the 1920s, Canada's population was predominately rural and its cities small in size and number. The number of urban dwellers in Canada did increase steadily from 1867 onward,