Ontario is the most populated province in Canada, with over 14,700,000 people. It is the financial hub of Canada, but it is also famous for its agricultural industry, mainly fruits and vegetables like apples, grapes and carrots. Ontario’s economy is well diversified, with significant sectors including the manufacturing of auto parts (particularly in Windsor) and textiles such as clothing (in southwestern Ontario). Quebec is the second most populated province in Canada. Ontario is known for its cities, province parks, natural resources, lakes, freshwaters, multiculturalism, and so much more. It is a beautiful place to live and raise a family.
FAST FACTS ABOUT ONTARIO
Joined Confederation July 1, 1867
Capital City Toronto
Land Area 1,076,395 km2
Premier Doug Ford
Estimated GDP CAD 795.134 billion
Official Flower White Trillium
Official Tree Eastern White Pine
Official Bird Common Loon
Motto Loyal she began, loyal she remains
BRIEF HISTORY OF ONTARIO
There has been human habitation in Ontario for over 12,000 years. The area was occupied by Aboriginals who spoke Algonquin and Iroquoian before the European settlers arrived.
It is unknown how “Ontario” is translated precisely. However, among Native Americans, the word “Ontario” describes beautiful water or a lake.
From the 1600s onwards, French and British settlers began to settle in Canada and use the land. As a result, most of Canada belonged to the British after the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). This area was known as Quebec by the British, which included parts of Quebec, Ontario, and the United States.
Ontario was home to many American colonists who remained loyal to Britain after the American Revolution (1775-1783). United Empire Loyalists was their name. Northern New York State was also home to many Iroquois who moved to Upper Canada.
A Constitutional Act passed in 1791 by the British split Quebec into two. Upper Canada became Ontario, and Lower Canada became Quebec because of its location upstream of the St. Lawrence River.
The first capital of Upper Canada was Newark, which is now Niagara-on-the-Lake. To protect the capital from American attacks, York (now Toronto) was moved in 1793. General John Graves Simcoe was Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant-Governor.
Many immigrants, including Germans, Scottish, and Mennonites, settled in Upper Canada in the nineteenth century. Approximately 235,000 people lived in Canada in 1830. The city of Toronto was the first to be established in Ontario in 1834.
Quebec and Ontario became independent provinces in 1867. A new federal union called the Dominion of Canada was created because of a partnership between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, joined by both Ontario and Quebec. As outlined in the British North America Act, Canada became independent. In 1867, a small town called Ottawa became the new nation’s capital, and Sir John A. Macdonald became the first prime minister.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE OF ONTARIO
About two in five Canadians live in Ontario, with a population of more than 14.7 million. Most people live in urban areas, primarily in cities on the shores of the Great Lakes.
Among the most populated cities and towns is the Golden Horseshoe, along the western shores of Lake Ontario, including Toronto, Hamilton, St. Catharines, and Niagara Falls. The Canadian capital city of Ottawa is further up.
The Greater Golden Horseshoe encompasses the surrounding region, mainly Central Ontario. One of the fastest-growing areas in North America, this area has more than 9 million people. The more significant part stretches away from Lake Ontario shorelines in all directions, from Brantford to the Kitchener-Waterloo area, to Barrie and to Peterborough in the northeast.
London, Kincardine, Windsor, and Sarnia are major population centres in southwestern Ontario. Ottawa and Kingston dominate Eastern Ontario. A few essential Canadian municipalities are located in northern Ontario, including Greater Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and Sault Ste. Marie, Kenora, as well as North Bay and Timmins.
ABORIGINAL PEOPLES OF CANADA
Ontario has about 2% of its population belonging to First Nations, Métis, or Inuits, and about one-fifth of the total Aboriginal population in the country. Among the First Nations peoples in the province are the Algonquin, Potawatomi, Ojibwa, and Odawa.
Although Ontario’s official language is English, it has a small number of French-speaking communities. The French language has been integrated into the province’s legal, educational, and administrative systems. Government services are available in English and French in many designated regions.
Since the American Revolution, that country’s population growth has depended on immigration. Ontario continues to attract over 40% of the 250,000 people who migrate to Canada yearly. As a result, more than 100 languages and dialects are spoken in Toronto, one of the world’s most multicultural cities.
Other than English, Chinese, Italian, German, Polish, Spanish, and Punjabi are among the languages commonly spoken at home in Ontario.
THE ECONOMY IN THE PROVINCE
Several factors have contributed to Ontario’s economic strength, including natural resources, manufacturing expertise, exports, and an unmatched entrepreneurial drive. The province generates 37% of Canada’s 1.6 trillion-dollar GDP and is home to over half of the nation’s knowledge-intensive industries, including high technology, financial services, and biotech. It is the economic engine of Canada.
Approximately 460 million people live in the North American Free Trade Area, which generated more than $18 trillion in combined GDP (price index, international dollars) in 2011. Canada-U.S. trade exceeded 1.4 billion dollars in 2011. The Ontario-US trade portion of that total was approximately 716 million Canadian dollars each day.
Ontario’s manufacturing is crucial to the continent throughout all of North America. Some examples of Ontario’s manufacturing industries are automobiles, information and communication technologies, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.
The following are some critical facts about Ontario’s manufacturing sector:
- North America’s largest auto assembly jurisdiction is located in Ontario.
- A report by Statistics Canada shows that 88% of Ontario’s vehicle production was exported in 2011 to the United States. That makes Ontario a significant partner to the US.
- A total of $258 billion worth of goods were shipped from Ontario’s manufacturing sector in 2011.
- Ontario has the most manufacturing employees in Canada and the United States, after California and Texas.
THE SERVICES INDUSTRY
Despite being a manufacturing leader, the service sector dominates Ontario’s economy. The industry employs 79% (or 5.3 million people) of the province’s workforce and accounts for 76.9% of its economy. Business and financial services, professional and scientific-technical services, and arts and culture are examples of Ontario’s major services sector.
FACTS ABOUT ONTARIO’S GEOGRAPHY
Ontario’s east and west distance ends at 1568 kilometres (974 miles). Approximately 1,691 kilometres (1,050 miles) separate north and south. Atop Timiskaming Mountain, a point that rises 693 metres (785 yards) above sea level.
The world’s largest freshwater island, Manitoulin Island, is located in Georgian Bay, which includes 2,766 square kilometres (1,068 square miles).
The province of Ontario is so big that it has two time zones: the line separating the Eastern Time Zone and the Central Time Zone runs northwest of Thunder Bay, from the United States border to Hudson Bay.
London, England and Warsaw, Poland, are close in latitude to the most northern communities in Ontario. Approximately parallel to Barcelona, Spain, or Rome, Italy, Middle Island lies in Lake Erie, south of Point Pelee.
With an area greater than France and Spain combined, Ontario is Canada’s second-largest province, covering more than 1 million square kilometres (415,00 square miles). In addition to Quebec to the east, Manitoba to the west, Hudson Bay and James Bay to the north, the Great Lakes to the south and the St. Lawrence River to the west, Ontario also shares borders with the United States.
EDUCATION & DEMOGRAPHICS
- Ontarians have an average age of 40 years old. The average life expectancy in Ontario is 79 years for men and 84 years for women.
- Approximately 64% of Ontario residents aged 25 to 64 have a post-secondary degree. Workers aged 25 and over exceed 6 million in number.
- The province is home to over 20 colleges and more than 20 public universities.
MANY LAKES & WATER
Several lakes, rivers, and streams have played a significant role in the history and development of Ontario. For example, the lakes and rivers were used as transportation and sources of food by both Aboriginal peoples and European settlers. As well, settlement patterns and industrialization patterns were largely determined by waterways.
Discover some quick facts about water in Ontario below:
- A fifth of the world’s fresh surface water is held in the Great Lakes, which include Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario.
- The Great Lakes’ shoreline covers about 45% of the earth’s circumference.
- Freshwater flowing continuously across the 5 Great Lakes is the world’s largest freshwater body.
- Seven hundred fifty thousand square kilometres of land make up the Great Lakes Basin, including eight states in the United States, most of southern Ontario and northern Ontario.
- Ninety-eight per cent of Ontarians live within the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basins.
- The lakes provide drinking water to over 80% of Ontarians.
- Nearly 80% of Canada’s manufacturing occurs within the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin, and a third of the nation’s agricultural and food processing jobs are found there.
In 2011, Ontario’s mineral production exceeded $10 billion. Mines in Ontario are world leaders in productivity and have high environmental standards. Nickel and platinum group metals are two of Ontario’s top 10 producers. In addition to gold, copper, zinc, cobalt and silver, the province is a significant producer of these metals. Minerals produced in southern Ontario include salt, gypsum, lime, nepheline syenite, and structural materials such as gravel, sand, and stone. Ontario’s oil and gas industry is also located in the sedimentary rocks of the south.
AGRICULTURE & FARMING PRODUCTION
Over half of the best agricultural land in Canada (defined as “Class 1”) is in Ontario. Almost one-quarter of all farm revenues in Canada are generated in Ontario (Census of Agriculture, 2011), with 51,950 farms.
The province’s agricultural production consists of the following:
- Farms that raise poultry, hogs, dairy and beef cattle for commercial purposes.
- Berries, apples, berries and other fruit crops.
- Veggies (vegetables).
- Corn, soybeans, forage crops, wheat and barley.
- Ornamental plants and flowers.
FORESTS – Trees, everywhere
Sixty-six per cent of Ontario’s land is forested, or 70 million hectares. Forests in this region account for 18% of Canada’s land area and 2% of the planet’s forest cover. Building materials, pulp and paper are made from harvested wood and a wide range of other products, such as furniture and flooring.
Ontario has a variety of forests. A few examples of such forests are the deciduous forests of southern Ontario and the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Forest in central Ontario. As well, boreal forest and Hudson Bay Lowland forest occupy northern Ontario. Carolinian forests are also present in a small portion of southern Ontario, where the Kentucky coffee tree and Sassafras tree can be found.
THE FORESTRY INDUSTRY
The forest industry is vital to Ontario’s economy. More than 53,000 direct jobs are supported by the forest industry (2011), which helps maintain a high living standard. Across 260 Ontario communities, the forestry sector supports almost 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Ontario’s capital city has more than 175 theatres and performing arts companies, second only to New York in North America. The province is also home to dozens of fine theatres. Canadians and Americans flock to seasonal festivals like the Stratford Festival and the Shaw Festival.
In addition to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, the province boasts several well-known art galleries.
Ontario’s entertainment and creative industry ranks third in North America, behind California and New York by employment.
The province of Ontario is the country’s leader in producing films, television programs, books, and magazines. Annually, the Toronto International Film Festival has grown to become one of the premier film festivals in the world. In addition, the digital media industry in Ontario is internationally recognized for producing cutting-edge products and services in interactive and digital media.
IMPORTANCE OF MINERALS & MINING
Ontario has been Canada’s leading metals producer since its first gold rush in 1866 near Madoc. In addition to metal products, more than 25 non-metal minerals are produced by the company. Canada’s nickel production reached 43% in 2011, gold production was 52%, its copper production was 38%, and it produced 84% of the country’s platinum group metals.
- Canada’s Embassy in Washington DC and the Ontario legislature were all built using Ontario stone.
- In Ontario, two-thirds of the ancient Canadian Shield rocks host mineral deposits. Also rich in minerals are younger sedimentary rocks and unconsolidated glacial deposits.
- Ontario adopted Amethyst as its official gemstone in 1975, a variety of 6-sided purple quartz crystals. Even though Amethyst is present worldwide, the best places to find it are along Lake Superior’s north shore near Thunder Bay. Additionally, they can also be found in the North Bay areas as well as Bancroft.
WILDLIFE & FISHING
- More than 3,600 plant species, 154 fish species, 50 amphibian and reptile species, 483 bird species, and more than 81 mammals live in Ontario, thanks to its varied climate and geography. Prickly pear cactus and sassafras trees can be found in Ontario’s southernmost regions, while polar bears roam our northern tundra.
- Ontario is home to fish such as yellow perch, bluegills, northern pikes, and walleyes. Among the mammals that live in Ontario are beavers, black bears, muskrats, grey wolves, and white-tailed deer. The most common birds are the blue jay, northern cardinal, great blue heron, red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, and pileated woodpecker. There are reptiles and amphibians in the area, such as eastern garter snakes, northern leopard frogs, eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, midland painted turtles, and 11 types of salamanders.
ONTARIO PROVINCIAL PARKS
- Algonquin Provincial Park, established in 1893, was Ontario’s first provincial park. Since then, Ontario’s provincial parks have stood for protecting the natural environment and enjoying the great outdoors. Today, Ontario’s vast system of parks and protected areas totals over 9 million hectares and includes magnificent old-growth forests, woodland caribou ranges, wilderness rivers, wetlands and habitats for rare and endangered plants and animals.
- About 10 million people visit our parks each year. They offer outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, swimming, canoeing, nature viewing, and fishing. Furthermore, parks are essential in scientific research, environmental conservation, and outdoor education. The province’s parks will preserve and protect Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage for generations.
THE ENERGY SECTOR
- Alberta ranked second in refinery production in 2011 behind Ontario, an essential Canadian petroleum refining region. 2011 saw six facilities producing 26.7 billion litres (168 million barrels) of petroleum products (4 fuel refineries, a petrochemical plant, and a lubricant plant). The province imported about 20% of its petroleum product demand of 33.3 billion litres last year.
- Natural gas is the primary fuel source in all sectors of the economy, except for transportation. That is true for residential, commercial and industrial heating. The province’s energy sources contributed almost 30% to the state’s energy usage in 2009. Most of the expenditures were on petroleum, and the remainder was on electricity.
- In Ontario, more than 120 power plants use nuclear, hydroelectric, gas, wind, and bioenergy for power generation. The combined capacity of these two power stations is 35,000 megawatts.
- Ontario’s five nuclear plants generate approximately 11,000 megawatts of power. Ontario’s 70 hydroelectric stations generate more than 7,900 megawatts of electricity.
- With more than 1,000 wind turbines generating electricity in Ontario, the province is now the largest producer of wind electricity in Canada.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE
- If you have never been to Ontario, we highly recommend you visit each destination below if you can!
- CN Tower: The CN Tower is an observation and communications tower in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Completed in 1976, it was built on former railway lands. As its name implies, the tower is owned by Canadian National, which built it. The Tower is North America’s tallest free-standing tower.
- Royal Ontario Museum: Located in Toronto, it is a world-class museum of world cultures and natural history. It is the most visited museum in Canada, with more than one million visitors each year.
- Art Gallery of Ontario: This museum is located between McCaul and Beverley Streets on Dundas Street West in downtown Toronto.
- Algonquin Provincial Park: The Algonquin Provincial Park is a large park situated largely in the unorganized south part of the Nipissing District in Ontario, Canada, between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River. It is Canada’s oldest provincial park, established in 1893.
- Canada’s Wonderland: Located in Vaughan, Ontario, approximately 25 kilometres north of downtown Toronto, Canada’s Wonderland is a 134-hectare theme park. A Canadian first, it is the largest theme park in the country and the first in Canada that was opened by Taft Broadcasting and Great-West Life Insurance Company in 1981.
- National Gallery of Canada: Ottawa is home to the National Gallery of Canada, Canada’s national museum. It has 46,621 square metres of land area and 12,400 square metres of space for art exhibits.
- Toronto Zoo: As the largest zoo in Canada, the zoo consists of seven geographical divisions: Indo-Malaya, Africa, the Americas, Tundra Trek, Australasia, Eurasia, and the Canadian domain.
- Horseshoe Falls: A significant waterfall along the United States-Canada border, Horseshoe Falls is the largest of the three that collectively form Niagara Falls. An estimated 90% of the Niagara River flows over Horseshoe Falls after it has been diverted for hydropower generation.
- Parliament Hill: Known as The Hill by locals or simply The Hill in Ottawa, it is Crown land located on the southern banks of the Ottawa River. The Parliament of Canada is housed in a suite of Gothic revival buildings of national symbolism located on the Hill.
- Thousand Islands National Park: Located on the Thousand Islands Parkway in the Thousand Islands Region of the Saint Lawrence River, the Thousand Islands National Park is part of the St. Lawrence Islands National Park. Island peaks are old mountain tops that have worn down over time.
- Ontario is home to deeply passionate sports fans! It is home to more professional sports teams than any other province in Canada. The most popular sports teams are The Toronto Maple Leafs (National Hockey League), The Toronto Raptors (National Basketball Association), The Toronto Blue Jays (Major League Baseball), The Ottawa Senators (National Hockey League) and the Toronto Argonauts (Canadian Football League). We also have hundreds of teams in minor leagues across various sports.
DID YOU KNOW??
- Some of the most famous people in Hollywood come from Ontario: Justin Bieber, Ryan Gosling, Jim Carrey, Drake, Rachel McAdams, Neve Campbell, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Alanis Morissette, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Rick Moranis, Kiefer Sutherland, and many, many more.