OntarioThis article is about the Canadian province. For other uses, see Ontario (disambiguation). Ontario
FlagCoat of arms
(Translation: "Loyal she began, loyal she remains") Capital Toronto Largest city Toronto Largest metro Greater Toronto Area Official languages English (de facto) Government Lieutenant-Governor David C. Onley Premier Dalton McGuinty (Liberal) Federal representation in Canadian Parliament House seats 107 Senate seats 24 Confederation July 1, 1867 (1st) Area  Ranked 4th Total 1,076,395 km² (415,598 sq mi) Land 917,741 km² (354,342 sq mi) Water (%) 158,654 km² (61,257 sq mi) (14.8%) Population Ranked 1st Total (2008) 12,861,940 (est.) Density 13.9 /km² (36 /sq mi) GDP Ranked 1st Total (2008) C$597.2 billion Per capita C$43,847 (6th) Abbreviations Postal ON ISO 3166-2 CA-ON Time zone UTC-5 & -6 Postal code prefix K L M N P Flower White Trillium Tree Eastern White Pine Bird Common Loon Web site www.ontario.ca Rankings include all provinces and territories
Ontario (IPA: /ɒnˈtɛɹi.oʊ/) is a province located in the central part of Canada, the largest by population and second largest, after Quebec, in total area. (Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are larger but are not provinces.) Ontario is bordered by the provinces of Manitoba to the west, Quebec to the east, and the U.S. states (from west to east) of Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania (at Lake Erie), and New York. Most of Ontario's borders with the United States are natural, starting at the Lake of the Woods and continuing through the four Great Lakes: Superior, Huron (which includes Georgian Bay), Erie, and Ontario, then along the Saint Lawrence River near Cornwall. Ontario is the only Canadian Province that borders the Great Lakes.
The capital of Ontario is Toronto, the largest city in Canada. Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is located in Ontario as well. The 2006 Census counted 12,160,282 residents in Ontario, which accounted for 38.5% of the national population.
The province takes its name from Lake Ontario, which is thought to be derived from ontarí:io, a Huron word meaning "great lake", or possibly skanadario which means "beautiful water" in Iroquoian. Along with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec, Ontario is one of the four original provinces of Canada when the nation was formed on July 1, 1867, by the British North America Act.
Ontario is Canada's leading manufacturing province accounting for 52% of the total national manufacturing shipments in 2004.
- 1 Geography
- 2 Demographics
- 3 Climate
- 4 Economy
- 5 Transportation
- 6 History
- 7 Government
- 8 Politics
- 9 Slogans
- 10 Famous Ontarians
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
GeographyEvolution of the borders of Ontario
The province consists of four main geographical regions:
- The thinly populated Canadian Shield in the northwestern and central portions which covers over half the land area in the province; though mostly infertile land, it is rich in minerals and studded with lakes and rivers; sub-regions are Northwestern Ontario and Northeastern Ontario.
- The virtually unpopulated Hudson Bay Lowlands in the extreme north and northeast, mainly swampy and sparsely forested; and
- The temperate and therefore most populous region, the fertile Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Valley in the south where agriculture and industry are concentrated. Southern Ontario is further sub-divided into four regions; Southwestern Ontario (parts of which were formerly referred to as Western Ontario), Golden Horseshoe, Central Ontario (although not actually the province's geographic centre) and Eastern Ontario.
Despite the absence of any mountainous terrain in the province, there are large areas of uplands, particularly within the Canadian Shield which traverses the province from northwest to southeast and also above the Niagara Escarpment which crosses the south. The highest point is Ishpatina Ridge at 693 metres (2,270 ft) above sea level located in Temagami, Northeastern Ontario.
The Carolinian forest zone covers most of the southwestern section, its northern extent is part of the Greater Toronto Area at the western end of Lake Ontario. The most well-known geographic feature is Niagara Falls, part of the much more extensive Niagara Escarpment. The Saint Lawrence Seaway allows navigation to and from the Atlantic Ocean as far inland as Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario. Northern Ontario occupies roughly 85% of the surface area of the province; conversely Southern Ontario contains 94% of the population.
Point Pelee National Park is a peninsula in southwestern Ontario (near Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan) that extends into Lake Erie and is the southernmost extent of Canada's mainland. Pelee Island and Middle Island in Lake Erie extend slightly farther. All are south of 42°N – slightly farther south than the northern border of California.
Land was not legally subdivided into administrative units until a treaty had been concluded with the native peoples ceding the land. In 1788, while part of the Province of Quebec (1763-1791), southern Ontario was divided into four districts: Hesse, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, and Nassau.
In 1792, the four districts were renamed: Hesse became the Western District, Lunenburg became the Eastern District, Mecklenburg became the Midland District, and Nassau became the Home District. Counties were created within the districts.
By 1838, there were twenty districts: Bathurst, Brock, Colbourne, Dalhousie, Eastern, Gore, Home, Huron, Johnstown, London, Midland, Newcastle, Niagara, Ottawa, Prince Edward, Simcoe, Talbot, Victoria, Wellington, and Western.
In 1849, the districts of southern Ontario were abolished by the Province of Canada, and county governments took over certain municipal responsibilities. The Province of Canada also began creating districts in sparsely populated Northern Ontario with the establishment of Algoma District and Nipissing District in 1858.
The northern and western boundaries of Ontario were in dispute after Confederation. Ontario's right to Northwestern Ontario was determined by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1884 and confirmed by the Canada (Ontario Boundary) Act, 1889 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. By 1899, there were seven northern districts: Algoma, Manitoulin, Muskoka, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, and Thunder Bay. Four more northern districts were created between 1907 and 1912: Cochrane, Kenora, Sudbury and Timiskaming. Early Districts and Counties 1788-1899. Archives of Ontario (2006-09-05). Retrieved on 2006-11-29.</ref>
- Main article: Demographics of Ontario
Population since 1851Year Population Five-year
% change Ten-year
% change Rank among
provinces 1851 952,004 n/a 208.8 1 1861 1,396,091 n/a 46.6 1 1871 1,620,851 n/a 16.1 1 1881 1,926,922 n/a 18.9 1 1891 2,114,321 n/a 9.7 1 1901 2,182,947 n/a 3.2 1 1911 2,527,292 n/a 15.8 1 1921 2,933,662 n/a 16.1 1 1931 3,431,683 n/a 17.0 1 1941 3,787,655 n/a 10.3 1 1951 4,597,542 n/a 21.4 1 1956 5,404,933 17.6 n/a 1 1961 6,236,092 15.4 35.6 1 1966 6,960,870 11.6 28.8 1 1971 7,703,105 10.7 23.5 1 1976 8,264,465 7.3 18.7 1 1981 8,625,107 4.4 12.0 1 1986 9,101,695 5.5 10.1 1 1991 10,084,885 10.8 16.9 1 1996 10,753,573 6.6 18.1 1 2001 11,410,046 6.1 13.1 1 2006* 12,160,282 6.6 13.1 1
Ethnic groupsVisible minorities of Ontario in 2001. Ethnic Responses % Total population 11,285,545 100 Canadian3,350,275 29.7 English2,711,485 24 Scottish1,843,110 16.3 Irish1,761,280 15.6 French1,235,765 10.9 German965,510 8.6 Italian781,345 6.9 Chinese518,550 4.6 Dutch (Netherlands)436,035 3.9 East Indian413,415 3.7 Polish386,050 3.4 Ukrainian290,925 2.6 North American Indian248,940 2.2 Portuguese248,265 2.2 Jewish196,260 1.7 Jamaican180,810 1.6 Filipino165,025 1.5 Spanish (Latin America)147,140 1.3 Welsh142,740 1.3 Hungarian (Magyar)128,575 1.1 Greek120,635 1.0 Russian106,710 0.9 American (USA)86,855 0.8 Serbian78,230 0.7 British, not included
elsewhere 76,415 0.7 Vietnamese67,450 0.6 Finnish64,105 0.6 Croatian62,325 0.6 Métis60,535 0.5 Lebanese59,155 0.5
 The percentages add to more than 100% because of dual responses (e.g. "French-Canadian" generates an entry in both the category "French" and the category "Canadian"). Groups with greater than 200,000 responses are included. The majority of Ontarians are of British (English, Scottish, Welsh) and Irish ancestry.
The major religious groups in Ontario, as of 2001, are:Religion in Ontario in 2001. Religion People % Total 11,285,535 100 Protestant 3,935,745 34.9 Catholic 3,911,760 34.7 No Religion 1,841,290 16.3 Muslim 352,530 3.1 Other Christians301,935 2.7 Christian Orthodox 264,055 2.3 Hindu 217,555 1.9 Jewish 190,795 1.7 Buddhist 128,320 1.1 Sikh 104,785 0.9 Eastern Religions 17,780 0.2 Other Religions 18,985 0.2
The vast majority of Ontarians are of British or other European descent. Slightly less than five percent of the population of Ontario is Franco-Ontarian, that is those whose native tongue is French, although those with French ancestry account for 11% of the population.
Immigration is a huge population growth force in Ontario as it has been over the last two centuries, in relation to natural increase or inter-provincial migration. More recent sources of immigrants with already large or growing communities in Ontario include Caribbeans (Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Guyanese), South Asians (for example, Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans), East Asians (mostly Chinese and Filipinos), Central/South Americans (such as Colombians, Mexicans, Hondurans, Argentinans, and Ecuadorians), Eastern Europeans such as Russians and Bosnians, and groups from Iran, Somalia and Western Africa. Most groups have settled in the Greater Toronto area. A smaller number have settled in other cities such as London, Kitchener, Hamilton, Windsor, Barrie, and Ottawa.
Largest Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) by population
Statistics Canada's measure of a "metro area", the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) roughly bundles together population figures from the core municipality with those from "commuter" municipalities.CMA (largest other included municipalities in brackets) 2006 2001 TorontoCMA (Region of Peel, Region of York, City of Pickering) 5,813,149 4,682,897 Ottawa–GatineauCMA (Clarence-Rockland, Russell Township)* 1,130,761* 1,067,800* HamiltonCMA (Burlington, Grimsby) 692,911 662,401 LondonCMA (St. Thomas, Strathroy-Caradoc) 457,720 435,600 KitchenerCMA (Cambridge, Waterloo) 451,235 414,284 St. Catharines–Niagara CMA (Niagara Falls, Welland) 390,317 377,009 OshawaCMA (Whitby, Clarington) 330,594 296,298 WindsorCMA (Lakeshore, LaSalle) 323,342 307,877 BarrieCA (Innisfil, Springwater) 177,061 148,480 SudburyCMA (Whitefish Lake & Wanapitei Reserves) 158,258 155,601 KingstonCMA 152,358 146,838
*Parts of Quebec (including Gatineau) are included in the Ottawa CMA. The entire population of the Ottawa CMA, in both provinces, is shown. Clarence-Rockland and Russell Township are not the second and third largest municipalities in the entire CMA, they are the largest municipalities in the Ontario section of the CMA.
Ten largest municipalities by populationMunicipality 2006 2001 1996 Toronto(provincial capital) &0000000002503281.0000002,503,281 &0000000002481494.0000002,481,494 &0000000002385421.0000002,385,421 Ottawa(national capital) &0000000000812129.000000812,129 &0000000000774072.000000774,072 &0000000000721136.000000721,136 Mississauga(part of the Greater Toronto Area) &0000000000668549.000000668,549 &0000000000612925.000000612,925 &0000000000544382.000000544,382 Hamilton&0000000000504559.000000504,559 &0000000000490268.000000490,268 &0000000000467799.000000467,799 Brampton(part of the Greater Toronto Area) &0000000000433806.000000433,806 &0000000000325428.000000325,428 &0000000000268251.000000268,251 London&0000000000352395.000000352,395 &0000000000336539.000000336,539 &0000000000325669.000000325,669 Markham(part of the Greater Toronto Area) &0000000000261573.000000261,573 &0000000000208615.000000208,615 &0000000000173383.000000173,383 Vaughan(part of the Greater Toronto Area) &0000000000238866.000000238,866 &0000000000182022.000000182,022 &0000000000132549.000000132,549 Windsor&0000000000216473.000000216,473 &0000000000209218.000000209,218 &0000000000197694.000000197,694 Kitchener&0000000000204668.000000204,668 &0000000000190399.000000190,399 &0000000000178420.000000178,420
- See also: Environment Canada
Ontario has three main climatic regions. Most of Southwestern Ontario, plus the southern part of the Golden Horseshoe region including Toronto, have a moderate humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa), similar to that of the inland Mid-Atlantic States and the lower Great Lakes portion of the Midwestern United States. The region has warm, humid summers and cold winters. Extreme heat and cold can occur for usually short periods. It is considered a temperate climate when compared with most of Canada. In the summer, the air masses often come out of the southern United States, as the stronger the Bermuda High Pressure ridges into the North American continent, the more warm, humid air is drawn northward from the Gulf of Mexico. Particularly in the fall and winter, temperatures are moderated by the waters of the Great Lakes, making it considerably milder than the rest of the provinces and allowing for a longer growing season than areas at similar latitudes in the continent's interior. Both spring and fall are generally pleasantly mild, with cool nights. Annual precipitation ranges from 75-100 centimetres (30-40 in) and is well distributed throughout the year with a summer peak. Most of this region lies in the lee of the Great Lakes making for abundant snow in some areas while others receive less snow than Northern Ontario because of the shorter winter.The Thames river in London, Ontario.
The more northern parts of Southern Ontario, plus all of Central and Eastern Ontario and the southern parts of Northern Ontario, have a more severe humid continental climate (Koppen Dfb). This region has warm and sometimes hot summers (although shorter in length than Southwestern Ontario) with cold, longer winters and a shorter growing season. The southern part of this zone lies on the windward side of Lake Huron. The Great Lakes also have a moderating effect for shoreline areas. However, the open lakes frequently result in lake effect snow squalls on the eastern and southern shores of the lakes, that affect much of the Georgian Bay shoreline including Killarney, Parry Sound, Muskoka and Simcoe County; the Lake Huron shore from east of Sarnia northward to the Bruce Peninsula, sometimes reaching London. Wind-whipped snow squalls or lake effect snow can affect areas as far as 100 kilometres (60 mi) or greater from the shore, but the heaviest snows usually occur within 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the shoreline. Some snowbelt areas receive an annual average of well over 300 centimetres (120 in) of snow annually.
The northernmost parts of Ontario—primarily north of 50°N—have a subarctic climate (Koppen Dfc) with long, very cold winters and short, warm summers and dramatic temperature changes. In the summer, hot weather occasionally reaches even the northernmost parts of Ontario, although humidity is generally lower than in the south. With no major mountain ranges blocking Arctic air masses, winters are generally very cold, especially in the far north and northwest where temperatures below -40 °C (-40 °F) are not uncommon. The snow stays on the ground much longer in the region as opposed to any other regions of Ontario; snow cover is usually seen between October and May.
Severe thunderstorms peak in frequency in June and July in most of the province when it becomes one of the most active thunderstorm zones on the continent, although in Southern Ontario they can occur at any time from March to November because of the collision of colder, Arctic air and warm, moist Gulf air. In summer they also form from daytime convective heating. These storms tend to be more isolated in nature than those associated with frontal activity. Derecho-type thunderstorms can also occur in summer, often nocturnally, bringing severe straight-line winds over wide areas. These storms usually develop along stationary frontal boundaries during hot weather periods and can occur in most areas of the province. Only the Hudson/James Bay Lowlands region rarely experience one. The region with the highest severe weather frequency is Southwestern and Central Ontario, which is caused by the localized Lake Breeze Front. London has the most lightning strikes per year in Canada and is also one of the most active areas in the country for storms. In typical year Ontario averages 20 or more confimred tornado touchdowns, with the highest frequency in southwestern Ontario and near Lake Simcoe. They are rarely destructive (the vast majority are classified as F0 or F1 on the Fujita Scale). In Northern Ontario, some tornadoes go undetected by ground spotters because of the sparse population and remote landscape; they are often discovered after the fact by aircraft pilots, where aerial observations of destroyed forest confirm occurences.
EconomyOne London Place, in London, Ontario, is the tallest office tower in Ontario outside of the Greater Toronto Area. The CN Tower in Toronto has the highest public observation level on Earth.
- Main article: Economy of Ontario
Ontario's rivers, including its share of the Niagara River, make it rich in hydroelectric energy. Since the privatization of Ontario Hydro which began in 1999, Ontario Power Generation runs 85% of electricity generated in the province, of which 41% is nuclear, 30% is hydroelectric and 29% is fossil fuel derived. OPG is not however responsible for the transmission of power, which is under the control of Hydro One. Despite its diverse range of power options, problems related to increasing consumption, lack of energy efficiency and aging nuclear reactors, Ontario has been forced in recent years to purchase power from its neighbours Quebec and Michigan to supplement its power needs during peak consumption periods.
An abundance of natural resources, excellent transportation links to the American heartland and the inland Great Lakes making ocean access possible via ship containers, have all contributed to making manufacturing the principal industry, found mainly in the Golden Horseshoe region, which is the largest industrialized area in Canada. Important products include motor vehicles, iron, steel, food, electrical appliances, machinery, chemicals, and paper. Ontario surpassed Michigan in car production, assembling 2.696 million vehicles in 2004.
However, as a result of steeply declining sales, on November 21, 2005, General Motors announced massive layoffs at production facilities across North America including two large GM plants in Oshawa and a drive train facility in St. Catharines which by 2008 will result in 8,000 job losses in Ontario alone. Subsequently in January 23, 2006, Ford Motor Company announced between 25,000 and 30,000 layoffs phased until 2012; Ontario was spared the worst, but job losses were announced for the St. Thomas facility and the Windsor casting plant. However, these losses will be offset by Ford's recent announcement of a hybrid vehicle facility slated to begin production in 2007 at its Oakville plant and GM's re-introduction of the Camaro which will be produced in Oshawa. Toyota also announced plans to build a new plant in Woodstock by 2008, and Honda also has plans to add an engine plant at its facility in Alliston.Toronto: Ontario's capital city and Canada's largest metropolis. Niagara Falls is a major tourist attraction in Ontario as well as a huge supplier of hydroelectric energy for the province.
Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is the centre of Canada's financial services and banking industry. Suburban cities in the Greater Toronto Area like Brampton, Mississauga and Vaughan are large product distribution centres, in addition to having manufacturing industries. The information technology sector is also important, particularly in Markham, Waterloo and Ottawa. Hamilton is the largest steel manufacturing city in Canada, and Sarnia is a centre for petrochemical production. Construction employs at least 7% of the work force, but because of undocumented workers, the figure is likely over 10%. This sector has thrived over the last ten years because of steadily increasing new house and condominium construction combined with low mortgage rates and climbing prices, particularly in the Greater Toronto area. Mining and the forest products industry, notably pulp and paper, are vital to the economy of Northern Ontario. More than any other region, tourism contributes heavily to the economy of Central Ontario, peaking during the summer months owing to the abundance of fresh water recreation and wilderness found there in reasonable proximity to the major urban centres. At other times of the year, hunting, skiing and snowmobiling are popular. This region has some of the most vibrant fall colour displays anywhere on the continent, and tours directed at overseas visitors are organized to see them. Tourism also plays a key role in border cities with large casinos, among them Windsor, Rama, and Niagara Falls, which attract many U.S. visitors.
Once the dominant industry, agriculture occupies a small percentage of the population. The number of farms has decreased from 68,633 in 1991 to 59,728 in 2001, but farms have increased in average size, and many are becoming more mechanized. Cattle, small grains and dairy were the common types of farms in the 2001 census. The fruit, grape and vegetable growing industry is located primarily on the Niagara Peninsula and along Lake Erie, where tobacco farms are also situated. Tobacco production has decreased leading to an increase in some other new crop alternatives gaining popularity, such as hazelnuts and ginseng. The Ontario origins of Massey-Ferguson Ltd., once one of the largest farm implement manufacturers in the world, indicate the importance agriculture once had to the Canadian economy.
Southern Ontario's limited supply of agricultural land is going out of production at an increasing rate. Urban sprawl and farmland severances contribute to the loss of thousands of acres of productive agricultural land in Ontario each year. Over 2,000 farms and 150,000 acres (610 km²) of farmland in the GTA alone were lost to production in the two decades between 1976 and 1996. This loss represented approximately 18% of Ontario's Class 1 farmland being converted to urban purposes. In addition, increasing rural severances provide ever-greater interference with agricultural production.
TransportationCurrent Ontario licence plate
Historically, the province has used two major east-west routes, both starting from Montreal in the neighbouring province of Quebec. The northerly route, which was pioneered by early French-speaking fur traders, travels northwest from Montreal along the Ottawa River, then continues westward towards Manitoba. Major cities on or near the route include Ottawa, North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, and Thunder Bay. The much more heavily travelled southerly route, which was driven by growth in predominantly English-speaking settlements originated by the United Empire Loyalists and later other European immigrants, travels southwest from Montreal along the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie before entering the United States in Michigan. Major cities on or near the route include Kingston, Oshawa, Toronto, Mississauga, Kitchener/Waterloo, London, Sarnia, and Windsor. Most of Ontario's major transportation infrastructure is oriented east-west and roughly follows one of these two original routes.
- Main article: Roads in Ontario
400-Series Highways make up the primary vehicular network in the south of province, and they connect to numerous border crossings with the U.S., the busiest being the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and Ambassador Bridge (via Highway 401) and the Blue Water Bridge (via Highway 402). The primary highway along the southern route is Highway 401, the busiest highway in North America and the backbone of Ontario's road network, tourism, and economy, while the primary highway across the northern route is Highway 417 /Highway 17, part of the Trans-Canada Highway. Highway 400/Highway 69 connects Toronto to Northern Ontario. Other provincial highways and regional roads inter-connect the remainder of the province.
The St. Lawrence Seaway, which extends across most of the southern portion of the province and connects to the Atlantic Ocean, is the primary water transportation route for cargo, particularly iron ore and grain. In the past, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River were also a major passenger transportation route, but over the past half century they have been nearly totally supplanted by vehicle, rail, and air travel. There was previously a ferry connecting Toronto with Rochester, New York.
RailwaysThe O-Train, Ottawa's light rail train system (LRT).
Via Rail operates the inter-regional passenger train service on the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor, along with "The Canadian", a transcontinental rail service from Toronto to Vancouver. Additionally, Amtrak rail connects Ontario with key New York cities including Buffalo, Albany, and New York City. Ontario Northland provides rail service to destinations as far north as Moosonee near James Bay, connecting them with the south. Freight rail is dominated by the founding cross-country Canadian National Railway and CP Rail companies, which during the 1990s sold many short rail lines from their vast network to private companies operating mostly in the south. Regional commuter rail is limited to the provincially owned GO Transit, which serves a train/bus network spanning the Golden Horseshoe region, with its hub in Toronto. The Toronto Transit Commission operates the province's only subway and streetcar system, one of the busiest in North America. Outside of Toronto, the O-Train Light rail line operates in Ottawa with expansion of the line and proposals for additional lines.
Lester B. Pearson International Airport is the nation's busiest and the world's 29th busiest, handling over 30 million passengers per year. Other important airports include Ottawa International Airport and Hamilton's John C. Munro International Airport, which is an important courier and freight aviation centre. Toronto/Pearson and Ottawa/Macdonald-Cartier form two of the three points in Air Canada's Rapidair triangle, Canada's busiest set of air routes (the third point is Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport). WestJet also operates many flights in the triangle. A third and new airline, Porter Airlines recently made Toronto City Centre Airport their hub.
Most Ontario cities have regional airports, many of which have scheduled commuter flights from Air Canada Jazz or smaller airlines and charter companies—flights from the larger cities such as Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins, Windsor, London, and Kingston feed directly into Toronto Pearson. Bearskin Airlines also runs flights along the northerly east-west route, connecting Ottawa, North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, and Thunder Bay directly without requiring connections at Toronto Pearson.
Isolated towns and settlements in the northern areas of the province rely partly or entirely on air service for travel, goods, and even ambulance services, since much of the far northern area of the province cannot be reached by road or rail.
Before the arrival of the Europeans, the region was inhabited both by Algonquian (Ojibwa, Cree and Algonquin) and Iroquoian (Iroquois and Huron) tribes. The French explorer Étienne Brûlé explored part of the area in 1610-12. The English explorer Henry Hudson sailed into Hudson Bay in 1611 and claimed the area for England, but Samuel de Champlain reached Lake Huron in 1615, and French missionaries began to establish posts along the Great Lakes. French settlement was hampered by their hostilities with the Iroquois, who allied themselves with the British.
The British established trading posts on Hudson Bay in the late 17th century and began a struggle for domination of Ontario. The 1763 Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years' War by awarding nearly all of France's North American possessions (New France) to Britain. The region was annexed to Quebec in 1774. From 1783 to 1796, the United Kingdom granted United Empire Loyalists leaving the United States following the American Revolution 200 acres (0.8 km²) of land and other items with which to rebuild their lives. This measure substantially increased the population of Canada west of the St. Lawrence-Ottawa River confluence during this period, a fact recognized by the Constitutional Act of 1791, which split Quebec into The Canadas: Upper Canada southwest of the St. Lawrence-Ottawa River confluence, and Lower Canada east of it. John Graves Simcoe was appointed Upper Canada's first Lieutenant-Governor in 1793.
American troops in the War of 1812 invaded Upper Canada across the Niagara River and the Detroit River but were defeated and pushed back by British regulars, Canadian militias, and First Nations warriors. The Americans gained control of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, however, and during the Battle of York occupied the Town of York (later named Toronto) in 1813. The Americans looted the town and burned the Parliament Buildings but were soon forced to leave.
After the War of 1812, relative stability allowed for increasing numbers of immigrants to arrive from Britain and Ireland rather than from the United States. As was the case in the previous decades, this deliberate immigration shift was encouraged by the colonial leaders. Despite affordable and often free land, many arriving newcomers from Europe (mostly from Britain and Ireland) found frontier life with the harsh climate difficult, and some of those with the means eventually returned home or went south. However, population growth far exceeded emigration in the decades that followed. Still, a mostly agrarian-based society, canal projects and a new network of plank roads spurred greater trade within the colony and with the United States, thereby improving relations over time.
Meanwhile, Ontario's numerous waterways aided travel and transportation into the interior and supplied water power for development. As the population increased, so did the industries and transportation networks, which in turn led to further development. By the end of the century, Ontario vied with Quebec as the nation's leader in terms of growth in population, industry, arts and communications.
Many in the colony, however, began to chafe against the aristocratic Family Compact that governed while benefiting economically from the regions resources, and who did not allow elected bodies the power to effect change (much as the Château Clique ruled Lower Canada). This resentment spurred republican ideals and sowed the seeds for early Canadian nationalism. Accordingly, rebellion in favour of responsible government rose in both regions; Louis-Joseph Papineau led the Lower Canada Rebellion and William Lyon Mackenzie led the Upper Canada Rebellion.
Although both rebellions were put down in short order, the British government sent Lord Durham to investigate the causes of the unrest. He recommended that self-government be granted and that Lower and Upper Canada be re-joined in an attempt to assimilate the French Canadians. Accordingly, the two colonies were merged into the Province of Canada by the Act of Union (1840), with the capital at Kingston, and Upper Canada becoming known as Canada West. Parliamentary self-government was granted in 1848. There were heavy waves of immigration in the 1840s, and the population of Canada West more than doubled by 1851 over the previous decade. As a result for the first time the English-speaking population of Canada West surpassed the French-speaking population of Canada East, tilting the representative balance of power.
An economic boom in the 1850s coincided with railway expansion across the province further increasing the economic strength of Central Canada.
A political stalemate between the French- and English-speaking legislators, as well as fear of aggression from the United States during the American Civil War, led the political elite to hold a series of conferences in the 1860s to effect a broader federal union of all British North American colonies. The British North America Act took effect on July 1, 1867, establishing the Dominion of Canada, initially with four provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. The Province of Canada was divided into Ontario and Quebec so that each linguistic group would have its own province. Both Quebec and Ontario were required by section 93 of the BNA Act to safeguard existing educational rights and privileges of the Protestant and Catholic minorities. Thus, separate Catholic schools and school boards were permitted in Ontario. However, neither province had a constitutional requirement to protect its French- or English-speaking minority. Toronto was formally established as Ontario's provincial capital.
Province of Ontario
Once constituted as a province, Ontario proceeded to assert its economic and legislative power. In 1872, the lawyer Oliver Mowat became premier and remained as premier until 1896. He fought for provincial rights, weakening the power of the federal government in provincial matters, usually through well-argued appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. His battles with the federal government greatly decentralized Canada, giving the provinces far more power than John A. Macdonald had intended. He consolidated and expanded Ontario's educational and provincial institutions, created districts in Northern Ontario, and fought to ensure that those parts of Northwestern Ontario not historically part of Upper Canada (the vast areas north and west of the Lake Superior-Hudson Bay watershed, known as the District of Keewatin) would become part of Ontario, a victory embodied in the Canada (Ontario Boundary) Act, 1889. He also presided over the emergence of the province into the economic powerhouse of Canada. Mowat was the creator of what is often called Empire Ontario.
Beginning with Sir John A. Macdonald's National Policy (1879) and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (1875-1885) through Northern Ontario and the Canadian Prairies to British Columbia, Ontario manufacturing and industry flourished. However, population increase slowed after a large recession hit the province in 1893, thus slowing growth drastically but only for a few short years. Many newly arrived immigrants and others moved west along the railroad to the Prairie Provinces and British Columbia.
Mineral exploitation accelerated in the late 19th century, leading to the rise of important mining centres in the northeast like Sudbury, Cobalt and Timmins. The province harnessed its water power to generate hydro-electric power and created the state-controlled Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, later Ontario Hydro. The availability of cheap electric power further facilitated the development of industry. The Ford Motor Company of Canada was established in 1904. General Motors of Canada Ltd. was formed in 1918. The motor vehicle industry would go on to become the most lucrative industry for the Ontario economy.
In July 1912, the Conservative government of Sir James P. Whitney issued Regulation 17 which severely limited the availability of French-language schooling to the province's French-speaking minority. French-Canadians reacted with outrage, journalist Henri Bourassa denouncing the "Prussians of Ontario". It was eventually repealed in 1927.
Influenced by events in the United States, the government of Sir William Hearst introduced prohibition of alcoholic drinks in 1916 with the passing of the Ontario Temperance Act. However, residents could distill and retain their own personal supply, and liquor producers could continue distillation and export for sale, which allowed Ontario to become a hotbed for the illegal smuggling of liquor into the United States, which was under complete prohibition. Prohibition came to an end in 1927 with the establishment of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario by the government of George Howard Ferguson. The sale and consumption of liquor, wine, and beer are still controlled by some of the most extreme laws in North America to ensure that strict community standards and revenue generation from the alcohol retail monopoly are upheld. In April 2007, Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament Kim Craitor suggested that local brewers should be able to sell their beer in local corner stores; however, the motion was quickly rejected by Premier Dalton McGuinty.
The post-World War II period was one of exceptional prosperity and growth. Ontario, and the Greater Toronto Area in particular, have been the recipients of most immigration to Canada, largely immigrants from war-torn Europe in the 1950s and 1960s and after changes in federal immigration law, a massive influx of non-Europeans since the 1970s. From a largely ethnically British province, Ontario has rapidly become very culturally diverse.
The nationalist movement in Quebec, particularly after the election of the Parti Québécois in 1976, contributed to driving many businesses and English-speaking people out of Quebec to Ontario, and as a result Toronto surpassed Montreal as the largest city and economic centre of Canada. Depressed economic conditions in the Maritime Provinces have also resulted in de-population of those provinces in the 20th century, with heavy migration into Ontario.
Ontario has no official language, but English is considered the de facto language. Numerous French language services are available under the French Language Services Act of 1990 in designated areas where sizable francophone populations exist.
GovernmentThe wordmark of the Government of Ontario, featuring a stylized version of the provincial flower, the trillium. This wordmark was introduced in late 2007. The previous wordmark of the Government of Ontario, which was in use from the late-1960s until 2007 (not counting the lettering used here). The Ontario Legislature Building at Queen's Park.
The British North America Act 1867 section 69 stipulated "There shall be a Legislature for Ontario consisting of the Lieutenant Governor and of One House, styled the Legislative Assembly of Ontario." The assembly has 107 seats representing ridings elected in a first-past-the-post system across the province. The legislative buildings at Queen's Park in Toronto are the seat of government. Following the Westminster system, the leader of the party holding the most seats in the assembly is known as the "Premier and President of the Council" (Executive Council Act R.S.O. 1990). The Premier chooses the cabinet or Executive Council whose members are deemed "ministers of the Crown." Although the Legislative Assembly Act (R.S.O. 1990) refers to members of the assembly, the legislators are now commonly called MPPs (Members of the Provincial Parliament) in English and députés de l'Assemblée législative in French, but they have also been called MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly), and both are acceptable. The title of Prime Minister of Ontario, while permissible in English and correct in French (le Premier ministre), is generally avoided in favour of "Premier" to avoid confusion with the Prime Minister of Canada.
- Main article: Politics of Ontario
Ontario has traditionally operated under a three-party system. In the last few decades the liberal Ontario Liberal Party, conservative Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, and social-democratic Ontario New Democratic Party have all ruled the province at different times.
Federally, Ontario is known as being the province that offers the strongest support for the Liberal Party of Canada. The majority of the party's present 106 seats in the Canadian House of Commons represent Ontario ridings. As the province has the most seats of any province in Canada, earning support from Ontario voters is considered a crucial matter for any party hoping to win a Canadian federal election.
In 1967, in conjunction with the celebration of Canada's centennial, the song "A Place to Stand" was introduced at the inauguration of Ontario's pavilion at the Expo 67 World's Fair, and became the background for the province's advertising for decades.
In 1973 the first slogan to appear on licence plates in Ontario was "Keep It Beautiful." This was replaced by "Yours to Discover" in 1982, apparently inspired by a tourism slogan, "Discover Ontario," dating back to 1927. (From 1988 to 1990, "Ontario Incredible" gave "Yours to Discover" a brief respite.)
In 2007, a new song replaced A Place to Stand after four decades. "There's No Place Like This" (Un Endroit Sans Pareil) is featured in current television advertising, performed by Ontario artists including Molly Johnson, Brian Byrne, Tomi Swick (from Hamilton) and Keshia Chante (born in Ottawa). 
The singer-songwriter, guitarist, and film director Neil Young was born in Toronto and spent part of his childhood in Omemee, a town he memorialized in his song "Helpless" (written for Young's band Crazy Horse but most famously recorded on the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album Déjà Vu). The first lines of the song read, "There is a town in north Ontario / With dream comfort memory to spare / And in my mind I still need a place to go / All my changes were there."
Other famous artists originating from Ontario include musician Avril Lavigne (Napanee), Rush (Toronto), Sum 41 (Ajax), Billy Talent (Toronto), Our Lady Peace (Toronto), Alexisonfire (St. Catharines), The Tragically Hip, (Kingston), Three Days Grace (Toronto), singers Paul Anka, Keisha Chante, and Alanis Morissette (all from Ottawa), Gordon Lightfoot (Orillia), musician Shania Twain (Timmins), comics Jim Carrey (Newmarket), John Candy, Russell Peters, Mike Myers, music band Barenaked Ladies, wrestler Trish Stratus, and rapper Kardinal Offishall were all either raised or at one time resided in Scarborough, formerly an incorporated city which now makes up the eastern section of Toronto.
- Great Seal of Ontario
- List of Ontario-related topics
- Legislative Assembly of Ontario
- Lieutenant-Governors of Ontario
- List of botanical gardens in Canada
- List of Ontario premiers
- List of Ontario counties
- List of Canadian poets
- List of communities in Ontario
- Census divisions of Ontario
- List of cities in Canada
- List of airports in Ontario
- Coat of arms of Ontario
- Flag of Ontario
- Ontario Academic Credit
- List of Canadian provincial and territorial symbols
- Monarchy in Ontario
- List of universities in Ontario
- List of colleges in Ontario
- Higher education in Ontario
- Eastern Ontario
- Northern Ontario
- Northwestern Ontario
- Southern Ontario
- Southwestern Ontario
- Ontario Court of Appeal
- Ontario Superior Court of Justice
- Order of Ontario
- Professional sports teams of Ontario
- Scouting in Ontario
- Ontario Association of Landscape Architects
- Ontario Provincial Police
- ^ a b Canada's provinces and territories total area, land area and water area.. Statistics Canada. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
- ^ Statistics Canada. Canada's population estimates 2008-03-27. Retrieved on 2008-04-05.
- ^ Ontario Budget 2007: Chapter II
- ^ Ontario is the largest province in the country by population. Statistics Canada. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
- ^ Toronto is Canada's largest metropolitan area. Statistics Canada. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
- ^ a b c Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2006 and 2001 censuses - 100% data. Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Population (2007-03-13). Retrieved on 2007-03-13.
- ^ Mithun, Marianne (2000). The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 312.
- ^ About Canada // Ontario. Study Canada Last Paragraph-second last sentence. Retrieved on 2007-01-05. “Ontario's name is thought to come form the Iroquois word "Skanadario" which means "beautiful water"”
- ^ The British North American act of 1867. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
- ^ Government of Ontario. Ontario Facts: Overview. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
- ^ Population urban and rural, by province and territory (Ontario). Statistics Canada (2005-09-01). Retrieved on 2006-11-29.
- ^ Canada's population. The Daily. Statistics Canada (2006-09-27). Retrieved on 2006-11-29.
- ^ Selected Ethnic Origins1, for Canada, Provinces and Territories - 20% Sample Data. Statistics Canada. Retrieved on 2007-12-18.
- ^ Statistics Canada Population by selected ethnic origins, by province and territory (2001 Census) (Ontario). Statistics Canada (2005-01-25). Retrieved on 2006-11-29.
- ^ a b Statistics Canada 2001 Community Profiles. Statistics Canada (2006-12-14). Retrieved on 2007-01-12.
- ^ Population by religion, by province and territory (2001 Census) (Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan). Statistics Canada (2005-01-25). Retrieved on 2006-11-07.
- ^ |Religious diversity information for Ontario
- ^ Statistics Canada Population of census metropolitan areas (2001 Census boundaries) (number). Statistics Canada (2006-06-12). Retrieved on 2006-11-29.
- ^ Heidorn, Keith C. (2005-11-01). Lake Breeze Weather. The Weather Doctor. Retrieved on 2006-11-29.
- ^ Ontario is rich in hydroelectricity, especially areas near the Niagara River. Ontario Facts. Retrieved on 2007-02-02.
- ^ Ontario. Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. Retrieved on 2006-11-29.
- ^ a b c Ministry of Transportation (Ontario) (6 August 2002). Ontario government investing $401 million to upgrade Highway 401. Retrieved on 2006-12-20.
- ^ a b c Brian Gray (2004-04-10). GTA Economy Dinged by Every Crash on the 401 - North America's Busiest Freeway. Toronto Sun, transcribed at Urban Planet. Retrieved on 2007-03-18. “The "phenomenal" number of vehicles on Hwy. 401 as it cuts through Toronto makes it the busiest freeway in North America...”
- ^ About Ontario; History: Government of Ontario. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
- ^ Étienne Brûlé's article on Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
- ^ a b About Ontario; History; French and British Struggle for Domination. Government of Ontario. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
- ^ The Treaty of Paris (1763). Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
- ^ The Quebec Act of 1774. Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
- ^ The Constitutional Act of 1791. Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
- ^ Virtual Vault, an online exhibition of Canadian historical art at Library and Archives Canada
- ^ Ontario
- ^ | Library | University of Waterloo
- ^ Official Ontario Road Maps Produced -1971 - 2006
- ^ Measuring the Returns to Tourism Advertising - Butterfield et al. 37 (1): 12 - Journal of Travel Research
- ^ There's more to discover in Ontario
- Michael Sletcher, 'Ottawa', in James Ciment, ed., Colonial America: An Encyclopedia of Social, Political, Cultural, and Economic History, (5 vols., M. E. Sharpe, New York, 2006).
- Virtual Vault, an online exhibition of Canadian historical art at Library and Archives Canada
External linksFind more about Ontario on Wikipedia's sister projects: Dictionary definitionsTextbooksQuotationsSource textsImages and mediaNews storiesLearning resources
- Government of Ontario also at Ontario.ca
- Tourism Ontario
- Ontario Travel webpage
- Historical and Genealogical Resources of Ontario historical census, birth marriage and death records, immigration, settlement, biography, cemeteries, burial records, land records, First Nations and more
- Historic Bridges in Ontario. Features numerous photos, detailed information, and maps.
- Ontario MPP Contact Information
- CBC Digital Archives - Ontario Elections: Twenty Tumultuous Years
- Province of Ontario from The Canadian Encyclopedia
- Ontario weather reviews - Press releases issued by Environment Canada
v • d • eSubdivisions of Ontario Regions
Eastern Ontario · Central Ontario · Golden Horseshoe · Greater Toronto Area · Southwestern Ontario · Northern Ontario · Northeastern Ontario · Northwestern Ontario · Southern OntarioCountiesBruce · Dufferin · Elgin · Essex · Frontenac · Grey · Haliburton · Hastings · Huron · Lambton · Lanark · Leeds and Grenville ·
Lennox and Addington ·
Middlesex · Northumberland · Perth · Peterborough · Prescott and
Russell · Renfrew · Simcoe · Stormont,
Dundas and Glengarry · WellingtonDistrictsAlgoma · Cochrane · Kenora · Manitoulin · Nipissing · Parry Sound · Rainy River · Sudbury · Thunder Bay · TimiskamingRegional municipalitiesDurham · Halton · Muskoka · Niagara · Oxford · Peel · Waterloo · YorkSingle-tier municipalitiesBrant · Brantford · Chatham-Kent · Greater Sudbury · Haldimand · Hamilton · Kawartha Lakes · Norfolk · Ottawa · Prince Edward · TorontoSeparated municipalitiesBarrie · Belleville · Brantford · Brockville · Gananoque · Guelph · Kingston · London · Orillia · Pembroke · Peterborough · Prescott · Quinte West · Smiths Falls · St. Marys · St. Thomas · Stratford · WindsorSee also Ontario communities · Ontario municipalities
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