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Image:Flag of Ontario.svg Image:Ontariocoatofarms.png
Flag of Ontario Coat of arms of Ontario
Motto: Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet (Latin: Loyal she began, loyal she remains)
Official languages English
Flower White Trillium
Tree Eastern White Pine
Bird Common Loon
Capital Toronto
Largest city Toronto
Lieutenant-Governor James K. Bartleman
Premier Dalton McGuinty (Liberal)
Parliamentary representation
 - House seats
 - Senate seats

 - Land
 - Water  (% of total) 
Ranked 5th
1,076,395 km²
917,741 km²
158,654 km² (14.8%)
 - Total (2006)
 - Density
Ranked 1st
GDP (2005)
 - Total
 - Per capita

$537.604 billion (1st)
$42,866 (4th)
Confederation July 1, 1867 (1st)
Time zone UTC-5 & -6
 - Postal
 - ISO 3166-2
 - Postal Code Prefix

Website www.gov.on.ca
All rankings include the territories

Ontario is the most populous of Canada's ten provinces and second only to Quebec in area. It is located in east-central Canada and is considered one of the provinces of Central Canada. Its capital is Toronto, which is also the largest city in Canada. Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is also located in Ontario. As of July 2006 there are an estimated 12,686,952 people in Ontario, representing approximately 37.9% of the total Canadian population.

The province takes its name from Lake Ontario, which in turn is derived from the Iroquois word Skanadario, meaning "beautiful lake" or "sparkling water".

Ontario, along with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, is one of the four original provinces of Canada when the nation was formed on July 1, 1867 by the British North America Act.


[edit] Geography

Main article: Geography of Ontario
See also: List of Ontario counties

Ontario is bounded on the north by Hudson Bay and James Bay, on the east by Quebec, on the west by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Ontario's long American border is formed almost entirely by lakes and rivers, starting in Lake of the Woods and continuing to the Saint Lawrence River near Cornwall; it passes through the four Great Lakes Ontario shares with bordering states, namely Lakes Superior, Huron (which includes Georgian Bay), Erie, and Ontario (for which the province is named; the name Ontario itself is a corruption of the Iroquois word "Onitariio" meaning "beautiful lake" or "Kanadario," variously translated as "beautiful water"). There are approximately 250,000 lakes and over 100,000 kilometres (62,000 mi) of rivers in the province.

The province consists of three 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 formerly referred to as Western Ontario), Golden Horseshoe, Central Ontario (although not actually the province's geographic centre) and Eastern Ontario.
Bruce peninsula

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 but also above the Niagara Escarpment which crosses the south. The highest point is Ishpatina Ridge at 693m above sea level located in 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 (see article Geography of Canada).

Point Pelee National Park is a peninsula in southwestern Ontario (near Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan) that extends into Lake Erie and is the part of Canada's mainland furthest south. Pelee Island in Lake Erie is even further south. Both are south of 42°N – slightly further south than the northern border of California.

[edit] Demographics

[edit] Population of Ontario since 1851

Year Population Five-year
% change
% change
Rank among
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* 12,686,952 11.2 18.0 1

*Preliminary 2006 census estimate. Source: Statistics Canada <ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Ethnic groups

Ethnic origin Population Percent
Canadian 3,350,275 29.69%
English 2,711,485 24.03%
Scottish 1,843,110 16.33%
Irish 1,761,280 15.61%
French 1,235,765 10.95%
German 965,510 8.56%
Italian 781,345 6.92%
Chinese 518,550 4.59%
Dutch (Netherlands) 436,035 3.86%
South Asian 413,415 3.66%
Polish 386,050 3.42%
Ukrainian 290,925 2.58%
North American First Nations 248,940 2.21%
Portuguese 248,265 2.20%

The information regarding ethnicities below is from the 2001 Canadian Census.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> 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 major religious groups in Ontario are<ref name=census-religion>Template:Cite web</ref>:

Increasing immigration from all parts of the world, especially to Toronto and its environs, is rapidly diversifying the province's ethnic makeup. 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 are 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 (a majority of whom are Jamaicans), South Asians (for example, Pakistanis, Indians and Sri Lankans), East Asians (mostly Chinese and Filipinos), Central/South Americans, (notably Colombians and Ecuadorians), Europeans such as Russians and Bosnians, and groups from Iran, Somalia and Ghana. Most groups have settled in the Greater Toronto area. A smaller number have settled in other cities such as London, Kitchener, Hamilton and Ottawa.

[edit] Ten 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<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>. (See also: Golden Horseshoe, Montreal-Ottawa Corridor, and Windsor-Detroit.)

CMA (largest other included municipalities in brackets) 2005 (est.) 2001
Toronto (provincial capital) CMA (Mississauga, Brampton) 5,304,100 4,883,800
Ottawa–Gatineau (national capital) CMA, Ontario part (Clarence-Rockland, Russell Township) 859,704 806,096
Hamilton CMA (Burlington, Grimsby) 714,900 689,200
London CMA (St. Thomas, Strathroy-Caradoc) 464,300 449,600
Kitchener CMA (Cambridge, Waterloo) 458,600 431,300
St. Catharines–Niagara CMA (Niagara Falls, Welland) 396,900 391,700
Oshawa CMA (Whitby, Clarington) 340,300 308,500
Windsor CMA (Lakeshore, LaSalle) 332,300 320,800
Barrie CA (Innisfil, Springwater) 165,000 148,480
Greater Sudbury CMA (Whitefish Lake & Wahnapitei Reserves) 161,100 161,500

[edit] Ten largest municipalities by population

City 2001 1996
Toronto (provincial capital) 2,481,494 2,385,421
Ottawa (national capital) 808,391 721,136
Mississauga (part of Greater Toronto) 612,925 544,382
Hamilton 499,268 467,799
London 336,539 325,669
Brampton (part of Greater Toronto) 325,428 268,251
Markham (part of Greater Toronto) 208,615 173,383
Windsor 208,402 197,694
Kitchener 190,399 178,420
Vaughan (part of Greater Toronto) 182,022 132,549

[edit] Climate

Image:Lake Ontario - Sandbanks Provincial Park 2001.jpg
Enjoying summer at Sandbanks Provincial Park on Lake Ontario.

Ontario has three main climatic regions. Southwestern and south-central Ontario, including the southern half of the Golden Horseshoe, has 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 U.S. Midwest. The region has hot, humid summers and cold winters. 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. Throughout the year, but especially in the fall and winter, temperatures are moderated somewhat by the lower 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 750 mm (30 inches) to 1000 mm (40 inches) and is well distributed throughout the year with a summer peak. Most of this region lies in the lee of the Great Lakes and receive less snow than any other part of Ontario.

Most of Central and Eastern Ontario and the southern part of Northern Ontario has a more severe humid continental climate (Koppen Dfb). This region has warm to hot summers (although somewhat shorter than in Southwestern Ontario) with cold and somewhat longer winters and a shorter growing season. 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 (62 miles) or greater from the shore, but the heaviest snows usually occur within 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the shoreline. Some snowbelt areas receive an annual average of well over 300 cm (120 inches) of snow.

The more northern parts of Ontario have a subarctic climate (Koppen Dfc) with long, very cold winters and short, warm summers. 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; it is not uncommon to see snow on the ground from October to May here.

Severe thunderstorms peak in frequency in June and July in most of the province, although in Southern Ontario they can happen anytime from March to November due to the collision of colder, Arctic air and warm, often moist Gulf air. In summer they form from 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 most areas of the province can get hit. Only the Hudson/James Bay Lowlands region rarely experience one. The most severe weather prone regions are Southwestern and Central Ontario, much of them resulting from the localized Lake Breeze Front.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> London has the most lightning strikes per year, and is also one of the most active areas for storms, in Canada. Tornadoes are also common throughout the province, especially in the southwestern/south-central parts, although 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 due to the sparse population; however destruction to forests seen by aircraft pilots after the event is often how they are spotted.

Image:Toronto Downtown Core at Night.jpg
Toronto: Ontario's capital city and Canada's largest metropolis.

[edit] Economy

Ontario's rivers, including its share of the Niagara River, make it rich in hydroelectric energy. Hydroelectric energy makes up about 25% of the electric power generation in Ontario with the majority being nuclear power, 51%, and fossil fuels, mostly coal and an increasing share of natural-gas and waste recycling facilities round off the remaining supply mix with a relatively minute amount of wind and solar sources currently coming on line. Since the privatization of Ontario Hydro which began in 1999, Ontario Power Generation runs 85% of electricity generated in the province, but not 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 ageing nuclear reactors being refurbished, Ontario has been forced in recent years to purchase power from its neighbours, Quebec and Michigan for example to supplement its power needs during peak consumption periods.

However, despite borrowing power from it's neighbors, many of Ontario's neighbors are somewhat economically reliant on it. Ontario's 3 main urban centres are on the border from Ontario to another province/state. Windsor-Detroit, the cross-border region in Southwestern Ontario and Southeastern Michigan, is one of the largest auto-producing regions in North America. The Golden Horseshoe-Buffalo-Niagara region, in South-Central Ontario and Upstate New York, is one of the most important cultural and economic regions in the world (see Global City). Ottawa is the national capital, and being next to Montreal, it forms one of the largest metropolitan areas in Canada.

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 (see Canada-United States Automotive Agreement).

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 money losing Ford Motor Co. 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-introudction of the Camaro is planned to roll off the line at its large Oshawa facility. Toyota also announced its plans to build a RAV-4 producing plant in Woodstock by 2008 and Honda also has plans to add an engine plant at its large facility in Alliston.

Some economists believe that the North American Free Trade Agreement has contributed to a decline in manufacturing in part of North America's manufacturing "Rust Belt" that includes a portion of Southern Ontario from roughly Windsor east to St. Catharines (50km south of Toronto). This area and the Greater Toronto region contain the bulk of the auto sector in the province. The biggest contributing factor is the increased globalization and particularly the increasing manufacturing power from China that has led to the de-industrialization of Ontario and the gradual shift to a dominant service-oriented economy. These factors considered, Ontario remains an industrial giant within North America, therefore its overall economic health is still very responsive to changes that occur in this sector.

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 automobile and other manuafacturing industries. The information technology sector is also important, particularly in Markham, Waterloo and Ottawa, Canada's national capital. Hamilton is the largest steel manufacturing city in Canada and Sarnia is the centre for petrochemical production. Construction employs at least 7% of the work force, but due to undocumented workers this figure is likely over 10%. This sector has thrived over the last ten years due to 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 among the out of high-season draws. 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 and Niagara Falls which attract many US visitors.

Nominal Gross Domestic Product in 2003 was an estimated C$494.229 billion (40.6% of the Canadian total), larger than the GDP of Austria, Belgium or Sweden. Broken down by sector, the primary sector is 1.8% of total GDP, secondary sector 28.5%, and service sector 69.7%. Also, its economic growth is expected to outpace France, Germany, and Japan in 2006.

Further economic information on provincial GDP etc at Ontario Facts<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Transportation

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 popularized by later English-speaking 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.

[edit] Road transportation

400-Series Highways make up the primary vehicular network in the south of province and they connect to numerous border crossings with US, the busiest being the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. The primary highway along the southern route is Highway 401, North America's busiest highway, while the primary highway across the northern route is Highway 417 and Highway 17, part of the Trans-Canada Highway. Highway 400 connects Toronto to Northern Ontario. Other provincial highways and regional roads inter-connect the remainder of the province.

[edit] Water transportation

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.

[edit] Rail transportation

Via Rail operates the inter-regional passenger train service on the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. In addition Amtrak rail connects Ontario with US destinations, including Chicago and New York. 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 CN 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, its hub in Toronto. The TTC in Toronto operates the province's only subway and streetcar system, one of the busiest in North America. Outside of Toronto, the O-Train LRT line operates in Ottawa with ongoing expansion of the current line and proposals for additional lines.

[edit] Air transportation

Lester B. Pearson International Airport is the nation's busiest, handling approximately 30 million passengers per year. Other important airports include Ottawa International Airport and John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, 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 will be joining in the triangle making Toronto/City Centre Airport their hub beginning late 2006 to early 2007.

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.

[edit] Professional sports

National Hockey League

Major League Baseball

American Hockey League

Minor League Baseball

Canadian Football League

National Basketball Association

National Lacrosse League

Major League Soccer/Professional Soccer

[edit] Agriculture

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 Ontario economy (see Geography of Canada for more detail).

[edit] History

[edit] Pre-1867

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 would ally themselves with the British.


Map of Ontario, showing CMAs and CAs

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 successfully pushed back by British and Native American forces. 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. Not able to hold the town, the departing soldiers burned it to the ground.

After the War of 1812, relative stability allowed for increasing numbers of immigrants to arrive from the British Isles. Despite affordable land, many newcomers found frontier life with a harsh climate difficult, and some of those with means eventually returned home or went south, however population growth far exceeded out migration in the decades that would follow. Still a mostly agrarian based society, canal projects and a new network of plank roads spurred on greater trade within the colony and with the United States, thereby improving relations over time.

Many in the colony began to chafe against the aristocratic Family Compact that governed while benefitting economically from the regions resources, much as the Château Clique ruled Lower Canada. This spurred on 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. For more on the rebellions of 1837, see History of Canada.

Although both rebellions were crushed 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 Ontario becoming known as Canada West. Parliamentary self-government was granted in 1848. Due to heavy waves of immigration in the 1840s, the population of Canada West more than doubled by 1851 over the previous decade, and 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 at this point 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 at this time.

[edit] From 1867 to 1896

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 tenaciously 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 the National Policy (1879) and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (1875-1885) through Northern Ontario and the Prairies to British Columbia, Ontario manufacturing and industry flourished, however, population increase slowed as many people moved west along the railroads to seek new opportunities.

[edit] From 1896 to the present

Mineral exploitation accelarated 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. 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.

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. Changes in federal immigration law have led to a massive influx of non-Europeans since the 1980s. From a largely ethnically British province, Ontario has now become very culturally diverse.

The nationalist movement in Quebec, particularly after the election of the Parti Québécois in 1976, contributed to driving many businesses out of Quebec to Ontario, and Toronto surpassed Montreal as the largest city and economic centre of Canada.

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.

See also: Timeline of Ontario history

[edit] Government

Image:Logo of the Government of Ontario.png
The logo of the Government of Ontario.
Image:Ontario Legislative Assembly, Toronto, May 2006.jpg
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 103 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 currently 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.

Further information: Monarchy in Ontario

[edit] Politics

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.

Currently Ontario is under a Liberal government headed by Premier Dalton McGuinty.

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 101 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.

[edit] Territorial evolution 1788-1899

Land was not legally subdivided into administrative units until a treaty had been concluded with the native peoples ceding the land (see Royal Proclamation of 1763). 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 1798, there were eight districts: Eastern, Home, Johnstown, London, Midland, Newcastle, Niagara, and Western.

By 1826, there were eleven districts: Bathurst, Eastern, Gore, Home, Johnstown, London, Midland, Newcastle, Niagara, Ottawa, and Western.

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.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • 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).

[edit] External links

Image:Flag of Ontario.svg Ontario
Regions Eastern Ontario - Central Ontario - Golden Horseshoe - Southwestern Ontario - Northern Ontario - Northeastern Ontario - Northwestern Ontario
Counties Bruce - 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 - Wellington
Districts Algoma - Cochrane - Kenora - Manitoulin - Nipissing - Parry Sound - Rainy River - Sudbury - Thunder Bay - Timiskaming
Regional municipalities Durham - Halton - Muskoka - Niagara - Oxford - Peel - Waterloo - York
Single-tier municipalities Brant - Brantford - Chatham-Kent - Greater Sudbury - Haldimand - Hamilton - Kawartha Lakes - Norfolk - Ottawa - Prince Edward - Toronto
Separated municipalities Barrie - Belleville - Brantford - Brockville - Gananoque - Guelph - Kingston - London - Orillia - Pembroke - Peterborough - Prescott - Quinte West - Smiths Falls - St. Marys - St. Thomas - Stratford - Windsor
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