The name Ontario, from an Iroquoian word sometimes translated as meaning "beautiful lake" or "beautiful water," is apt, since lakes and rivers occupy one-sixth of the province's total area of just over one million km2. The word was first applied in 1641 to the easternmost of the Great Lakes, and "Old Ontario" was used to refer to the southern portion of land nearest the lake and was applied to the whole province in 1867.
Land and Resources
Ontario has the most varied landscape of any Canadian province. Two-thirds of the province lies under the Canadian SHIELD, which covers most of the north, except the Hudson Bay Lowland. From GEORGIAN BAY in the west and near Renfrew in the east the edge of the Shield forms a triangular wedge, with its apex near Brockville on the St Lawrence River. To the east lies the eastern Ontario plain, between the Ottawa and St Lawrence rivers. To the west, from Kingston on, there are belted rolling hills and plains culminating in the flat country in extreme southwestern Ontario. The NIAGARA ESCARPMENT, traversing the area from Niagara to Tobermory and through MANITOULIN ISLAND in Georgian Bay, is the most conspicuous feature.
Ontario is often considered to be 2 distinct regions. To the south of the Shield lies southern Ontario, where agriculture and most of the population are concentrated; northern Ontario, with nearly 90% of the land, contains only 10% of the population. Nevertheless, geology, climate, soil, vegetation and other factors combine to create distinct areas within this broad classification.
The rocks of the Shield are among the oldest on Earth, dating from the Archaean and Proterozoic eons of the Precambrian era; the oldest sections date from 2000 million years ago; the most recent a mere 900 million. These formations contain the large mineral deposits that are so important to the economy of northern Ontario.
Sedimentary limestone, shale and sandstone underlying southern Ontario are more recent, dating from the Paleozoic era, and are generally of the Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian periods. Outcrops of these rocks are rare, excepting where differential erosion of beds has exposed the Niagara Escarpment.
All of Ontario was, at one time or another, covered by glaciation. About 10 000 years ago the last ice sheet covering the province receded, resulting in the many lakes in the north and the Great Lakes along its southern and western borders. The proto-Great Lakes were considerably larger than their present descendants. As they evolved, they left behind a sand base along which many of the early roads of the province were located. The rivers that once drained them now flow through broad valleys such as the Grand River.
The effect of the ice age is still apparent. Scattered across southern Ontario are rocks left behind by the glaciers. Systems of moraines, marking the edges of stalled glaciers, traverse the province. The Oak Ridge Moraine, forming the height of land between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay, is the most conspicuous. The Horseshoe Moraines parallel the eastern shore of Lake Huron to the base of the BRUCE PENINSULA and southeast along the escarpment, then southwest toward Lake Erie. Other deposits, drumlins, are especially frequent in the Peterborough region.
The Shield is mostly, but not entirely, unsuitable for agriculture. The podzolic soils of northern Ontario are extremely thin and are low in fertility, although sufficient to support BOREAL FORESTS. There are only a few areas, such as the clay belts in northeastern Ontario or the Rainy River area in the northwest, where enough farming is possible to create the impression of an agricultural landscape. The forest cover of the north is not uniform. In the extreme north, stunted willows and black spruce struggle to grow in bogs; farther south spruce, aspen and jack pine dominate the northern Shield. Farther south again, to the east and west of Lake Superior, the Shield is covered by a mixed forest, known as the Great Lakes-St Lawrence forest region.
In the early 19th century, magnificent stands of Eastern white pine, the foundation of the central Canadian forest industry, were to be found in this region, as well as hard maples.
The grey-brown luvisolic (grey-brown podzolic) soils of southern Ontario that developed under forest vegetation from till and glacial deposits are reasonably fertile. Deltas, left behind from the ICE AGE, form sand plains, especially to the north of Lake Erie.
Of the total surface area of 177 390 km2 of water, almost half is in the Great Lakes. The ST LAWRENCE RIVER and Great Lakes drew explorers, traders, soldiers and settlers into the heart of the continent. More recently, Ontario's abundant rivers and lakes have made possible hydroelectric power and the more obvious forms of industrialization.
Ontario's water resources are fed by an abundant rainfall, and in most sections of the province by snow. Precipitation is most regular in the southern and central parts of Ontario where variations between winter and summer or spring and fall are not especially great; but winter and spring are somewhat less aqueous in northern and northwestern Ontario.
The lower half of the province lies in the Great Lakes-St Lawrence drainage basin, and the largest amounts of water flow along Ontario's southern borders: a peak monthly mean of 5750 m3/s on the NIAGARA RIVER.
Unlike the rivers that connect the Great Lakes, where there are not large variations in volume of flow from month to month, Ontario's inland rivers are subject to large increases in volume during the spring runoff, when melting winter snows create an annual threat of flooding. The volume of the OTTAWA RIVER practically triples in May to 2150 m3/s from its lowest monthly mean flow of 735 m3/s in August. An even more extreme example is the Thames River of southwestern Ontario, whose mean flow in March of 143 m3/s is over 11 times greater than its August mean of only 12.9 m3/s.
Ontario has a wide range of climates. In the north a bitter subarctic climate prevails, with mean daily temperatures near Hudson Bay of 12° to 15° C in July and -22° to -25° C in January. Winter temperatures are highest along the Great Lakes in southwestern Ontario and below the Niagara Escarpment, with mean daily temperatures ranging from -3° C near Windsor to -6°C near Toronto in January. In July the area between Chatham and Windsor is warmest (22° C). The winters are severe and stormy through much of the province. The areas receiving westerly winds off the Great Lakes are often called the "Snow Belt"; the areas south of Owen Sound, around Parry Sound and west of Sault Ste Marie, receive snowfall in excess of 250 cm.
The areas around Toronto and Hamilton are in the partial rain shadow of the Niagara Escarpment and receive less than 150 cm of snow annually. Although differences in relief are not great, they have a significant impact on climate. The upland areas of Grey County, the Algonquin Provincial Park area and the Superior Highlands are notably cooler. Hudson Bay freezes over in winter and makes northern temperatures even colder. The Great Lakes, on the other hand, moderate winter temperatures.
The climate of Ontario greatly affects its agricultural patterns. Most specialized crops such as grain corn, soybeans and sugar beets are concentrated in the southwest, with 2000-2600 growing degree days (GDD). Fruit growing is associated with (but not confined to) the Niagara Peninsula and tobacco growing is done in Norfolk County. The northern Clay Belts, with roughly 1480-1500 GDD, are suitable for a narrower range of crops, such as silage corn, hay, barley and potatoes. Frost is unusual in the south after the first week of May but can persist into June in the north.
Despite frequent bouts of rain and snow, the province's weather tends to sun. Sault Ste Marie receives roughly as much sun in July as sunny Victoria.
Ontario contains the largest amount of Class I agricultural land of any province and is abundantly endowed with rivers that can be harvested for hydroelectric power. One of the world's largest deposits of NICKEL and COPPER, along with lead, zinc, silver and platinum, were found in the Sudbury Basin in 1883. A major discovery of high-grade silver was made near the town of Cobalt in 1903. Large GOLD deposits in North America were discovered near the towns of Porcupine and KIRKLAND LAKE from 1906 to 1912, Red Lake in 1925 and most recently near Hemlo in 1981. One of the largest uranium deposits in the world was found at ELLIOT LAKE in 1953. A major copper, zinc and silver deposit was discovered near Timmins in 1964. IRON ORE is mined in the Algoma district north of Lake Superior.
Southern Ontario has fewer minerals, although iron ore was mined near Marmora and uranium was extracted near Bancroft. There are also minor oil and gas deposits in southwestern Ontario. Limestone, sand and gravel are available in many parts of southern Ontario as a result of glacial deposits. Some 422 000 km2 of Ontario's forest is considered to be productive, and the province ranks third in forestry-related industries.
The majority of the forest land belongs to the Crown, but is managed by a combination of forest companies under sustainable forest licences, private land owners and the Ministry of Natural Resources. In 1991, the Ontario government initiated a Sustainable Forestry Program that culminated in the passing of a new Crown Forest Sustainability Act (1995). Through this act, funding for planned, full renewal of harvested areas is guaranteed through a Forest Renewal Trust Fund. Wildlife, plant life, ECOSYSTEMS and BIODIVERSITY are protected under the act and public involvement in forest management planning is legislated.
Consciousness of the value of the wilderness resulted in the establishment of a provincial park system, beginning with ALGONQUIN PROVINCIAL PARK (7723 km2), established in 1893. There are now over 265 provincial parks, ranging from RONDEAU PROVINCIAL PARK on Lake Erie in the south to Hudson Bay, whose Polar Bear Provincial Park, a true "wilderness" establishment, is practically inaccessible. Among Canada's NATIONAL PARKS are GEORGIAN BAY ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK; POINT PELÉE NATIONAL PARK; PUKASKWA NATIONAL PARK; ST LAWRENCE ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK; BRUCE PENINSULA NATIONAL PARK; FATHOM FIVE NATIONAL MARINE PARK.
The government has encouraged the establishment of local conservation authorities and has promoted various schemes for channelling and controlling waterflow. Of all provinces, Ontario has the largest and most complex government structure for dealing with land use; the loss of agricultural land is a major concern, and has been the subject of political controversy and government study and planning.
Areas of great natural beauty, such as the Niagara Escarpment, have attracted both environmental and political interest, and in 1984 the 2 constituencies achieved a conspicuous meeting of minds when a far-reaching plan to preserve the escarpment was announced to universal praise. Since then, a national park, national marine park and 15 provincial parks have been established. The escarpment was also designated a United Nations biosphere reserve in 1990.
Considerable energy has been expended on discovering a means of reversing the trend in the Great Lakes fishing industry. As early as the 1920s efforts were being made to restock the lakes with fish; later, attention was directed towards ridding the lakes of the plague of the LAMPREY eel, which preyed on other fish, further reducing stocks.
Governments have attempted to improve water quality along the lakes, in many instances successfully. This success combined with stringent regulations of both commercial and sportfishing has greatly enhanced fish stocks in the Great Lakes. Problems such as ACID RAIN (with its Canadian-American dimensions) make it difficult to predict ultimate success with any confidence; however, research conducted in Ontario has proven that certain species can survive the acid rain and in fact can perform well in lakes where water quality improves.
Native settlement began in Ontario far back in prehistoric times. By the time Europeans came in the 17th century, the native population of the present province was divided into the nomadic Algonquian hunting tribes of the north and northwest, and the Iroquoian tribes of the south, including the NEUTRAL, HURON and Erie. HURONIA was destroyed and the Huron dispersed in the IROQUOIS WARS in the 1640s; the wars also forced the abandonment (1649) of the Jesuit mission STE MARIE AMONG THE HURONS - the first European establishment in present-day Ontario.
Large-scale settlement of the province did not begin until the 1780s. There were scattered French settlements, especially around Detroit, but the first major immigration was that of the LOYALISTS, refugees from the American Revolution.
The Loyalists gave the province its Anglo-Saxon character, which was reinforced by waves of immigration from the US and, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, from the British Isles. From the later 19th century there was localized immigration from Québec into eastern and northeastern Ontario, creating a French-language fringe along the province's frontiers. Although northern Ontario received some overseas immigration early in the century, it was not until after 1945 that immigration from continental Europe, the West Indies and East Asia had a discernible impact on the main populated areas of the province.
Ontario was first settled mostly by farmers, but in the mid-19th century the population was channelling into the cities until, by the time of WWI, Ontario had become predominantly urban. Despite the attraction of the US, the province has had Canada's largest population from 1867 to the present, and by a considerable margin: according to the 1991 census, Ontario had gained 983 200 people over the previous 5 years, 49% of the total national growth, bringing the population to 10 084 885. The 2001 population was 11 410 046.
Ontario is the most highly urbanized province in Canada, with 84.7% of the population found in urban centres (2001). The outstanding feature of the urban pattern is the south-central conurbation around the western end of Lake Ontario - the so-called Golden Horseshoe - which includes the cities of ST CATHARINES (pop 299 935), HAMILTON (pop 618 820), andTORONTO (pop 4 366 508). Nearly one-half of the population of Ontario lives in or around these cities. Toronto is Canada's largest city and plays a dominant role in Ontario's economy. Hamilton ranks ninth in Canada in population but third in manufacturing.
The urban centres of southwestern Ontario lie around KITCHENER-WATERLOO (pop 387 319) and LONDON (pop 337 318); both are transportation, service and manufacturing centres. WINDSOR (pop 208 402), the longtime home of the AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, is geographically part of the Detroit urban complex. Apart from KINGSTON, the largest city on the eastern end of Lake Ontario, and OTTAWA, which has the largest part of its work force in the federal public service, eastern Ontario has no substantial urban concentration.
The cities of northern Ontario are strung out along the railway lines to which most of them owe their origin. NORTH BAY is still a transportation centre; SUDBURY is at the heart of Canada's largest mining district; SAULT STE MARIE is the country's second-ranked steel producer; and THUNDER BAY is a major transshipment port. With the exception of Thunder Bay on Lake Superior and Windsor on the Detroit River, the other Great Lakes have no major urban centres along their Canadian shores.
The trend of habitation over time has been, and continues to be, to the suburbs: cities such as Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton have tended to lose population as their surroundings sprout. In the Toronto area, for example, Scarborough and Mississauga show strong growth rates; however, older postwar suburbs, such as North York, virtually ceased to grow in the 1970s. Unlike their American counterparts, the central cores of Ontario's large cities have remained in large part residential; there are relatively few blighted areas.
Ontario was once predominantly agricultural. Now, however, out of a labour force totalling over 6.3 million, workers in agriculture number about 83 000. But for those who believe that Ontario is still largely industrial, there is another surprise in store. Jobs in manufacturing (approximately 1 million) certainly overwhelm those in agriculture, but the growth industry has been the service sector, which employs over 4.3 million people.
The industrial work force suffered serious attrition in the recessions of the early 1980s and early 1990s, as reflected in the drastic decline in numbers of the once-powerful steelworkers union. The most powerful and best entrenched unions in Ontario are those in the civil service or other public enterprises.
The problem of the 1990s, as it is throughout the country, is rising unemployment among the young. The level of unemployed youth in Ontario, however, compares favourably with the national rate, as it has over the decades. Throughout the 1990s the unemployment rate has been consistently below the national level.
Language and Ethnicity
Over three-quarters (75.1%) of Ontario's 10 million people counted English as their mother tongue in 1991. Of the remainder, 4.6% had French as their mother tongue, and 17.2% were grouped into "nonofficial" languages. But these figures do not tell the whole story. It is estimated that 217 565 people speak at least one of Canada's official languages plus one or more "nonofficial" language. For instance, 211 870 people speak English and at least one more language besides French. Also, 70 860 respondents said they speak English and French. Most of the remainder claim to use English, French and one or more languages.
About 527 600 Ontarians claim French as their sole ancestry. Although the Ontario French community is still numerous and, on the whole, centred in the east and northeast of the province, it appears to be slowly declining. In part this can be ascribed to ease of access for francophones in the Ottawa area to suburbs on the Québec side of the border, so French speakers holding federal jobs can and do locate in a more concentrated French-language environment. In part the trend also reflects the decline of farming and other primary industries and the general drift to the cities.
If Ontario's citizenry of French ancestry has been dwindling as a proportion of the population, so have the British (including, for this purpose, the IRISH). Once overwhelmingly so, Ontario is now just over 25% "British"(1991c, single response). Ontarians of French (5.2%) and ITALIAN descent (4.9%) are the next largest groups. There were 289 420 people of GERMAN ancestry. The PORTUGUESE are more recent arrivals. Only 60 000 Ontarians of Portuguese descent were actually born in Canada; the other 116 300 were born in Portugal. In the 1996 census, 69 385 Aboriginals were listed.
Immigration from the West Indies, the Indian subcontinent and East Asia has also greatly increased the population, but the largest single group of residents born outside Ontario still hails from the United Kingdom, to the tune of nearly 409 000.
English is Ontario's sole official language, although in practice and to a lesser extent in principle its exclusive use has been modified. The Ontario government has gradually extended French rights in the legal and educational systems and in areas of provincial administration and has gone so far as to consider the inclusion of French as an official language.
Other languages have been encouraged by a variety of programs of MULTICULTURALISM up to and including the level of university chairs in Ukrainian, Baltic and Hungarian studies, while school authorities have been experimenting with the teaching of "heritage" languages in Toronto schools. The teaching of French has increased at the elementary-school level, but relaxed educational policies have not encouraged Ontario students to persevere with a difficult and noncompulsory subject in the high schools. University study of French has also fallen off over time, a fate shared with other modern languages. The results of this confusing pattern of concern and neglect are not yet apparent.
Ontario's population continues to be divided among what are traditionally its largest religious denominations. The biggest church is the Catholic Church, strong among the French, Irish and Italian communities, with over 3.5 million members (1991c). Next are the UNITED CHURCH, with 1.4 million and ANGLICANS with 1.1 million, while those Presbyterians who did not join the United Church number 422 200. The remaining larger sects include the BAPTISTS (264 600), LUTHERANS (227 900) and Greek ORTHODOX (167 200). JEWS number 175 600, while ISLAM claims 145 600 adherents and Hindus count 106 700 among their numbers. In most cases, women slightly outnumber men in organized religion. The number of people professing no religious belief (696 300 men and 551 300 women), and relatively low religious service attendance show the dramatic change in religious affiliation since the early 20th century.
Ontario's economy began with hunting and trapping. It expanded with the arrival of the settlers and until the latter part of the 19th century remained predominantly rural and agriculturally based. By the early 20th century rail lines built across Ontario's northland opened up rich mineral resources in places such as COBALT and TIMMINS.
The discovery and growth of hydroelectric power, combined with the export boom of the turn of the 20th century, stimulated great industrial expansion and the growth of cities, large and small. Ontario has been predominantly urban since 1911, and agriculture has shifted from mixed diversified grain and livestock to more specialized regional patterns serving broad urban markets - dairy products, corn to fatten livestock, vegetables, fruit and tobacco.
Ontario is a major exporter of the goods it produces - such as automobiles - but the principal market for Ontario products is and always has been heavily populated central Canada. Sales to the West and the Maritimes were for the most part marginal.
As with other parts of the country, the greatest expansion of recent years has been in service industries, while older, heavier industries have declined. After lagging behind the national rate of growth in overall real domestic product for most of the 1970s, Ontario had come out ahead in the mid-1980s. By 1987 the province had the lowest unemployment, the lowest per capita debt and the highest growth rate. However, the 1991 recession hit Ontario harder than most areas of Canada and the recovery in the province has been very slow.
Ontario has the largest amount of Canada's "best" agricultural land, just over 50% of the Canadian total of Class 1 land. Ontario ranked first in Canada in cash receipts for farm products in all years from 1986-1994. Most farming is done in the south, although clusters of farms on the Shield serve local dairy markets. Forage crops are the largest, but CORN, mixed grains, winter wheat and BARLEY are also grown. Ontario is therefore well able to sustain commercial hog, dairy and beef livestock farms. It ranks second to Québec in dairy farms. The latter are most numerous in the London-Woodstock region, in the Bruce Peninsula and in eastern Ontario.
Only Québec ranks ahead of Ontario in milk and dairy products; total Ontario receipts in this category were $1.1 billion in 1994. Despite heavy regulation at both the federal and provincial level, 4 big companies process almost 90% of Ontario's milk. One of the 4 is the Labatt Brewing Company (using the Silverwood and Sealtest brand names), which accounts for one-seventh of Canada's milk.
Ontario is first in Canada by a very wide margin in prosperous and lucrative farms - those producing $100 000 or more of products a year. There are a large number of farms at the lowest end of the scale as well, and while both the federal and provincial governments have encouraged the depopulation of submarginal farmland, this process is not complete. The lowest incomes in the province are to be found in counties with large amounts of marginal or submarginal land still under cultivation - along Georgian Bay, Lake Huron or in parts of eastern Ontario.
As in other jurisdictions, Ontario farmers are accustomed to selling their products through marketing boards, established as far back as the 1930s. These boards do not command universal support, even among farmers, but they are intended to introduce a degree of regularity and predictability into the marketing of agricultural products. Economic conditions during the late 1970s and 1980s stimulated protests from "survival" groups that the economic system was operating to the disadvantage of small farmers burdened by debt and high interest rates.
Ontario is and always has been the leading manufacturing province in Canada. This situation was well established at the time of Confederation, and the trend since has been to place industry in a province favoured by ample transportation, abundant natural resources and accessibility to export markets in the US.
Proximity to the American automotive industry, for example, encouraged the location of manufacturing plants in Ontario. The establishment of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler in Ontario in turn spun off a vast series of related industries dotted all across southern Ontario. Transportation equipment of all kinds, including aircraft and railcars, accounts for $1 out of every $5 of value-added production in industrial Ontario.
With over 12 000 manufacturing establishments in Ontario, it produces over half the gross domestic product of manufacturing industries in Canada, or $87 billion. Metropolitan Toronto has half the provincial manufacturing establishments, followed by Hamilton, Windsor, St. Catharines-Niagara and London. During the late 1970s, Ottawa, frequently seen as a staid national capital completely dependent on the largesse of the federal government, confounded its critics by emerging as Canada's equivalent of California's Silicon Valley, a centre for HIGH TECHNOLOGY industries, producing computers, communications technology and software. Ontario accounts for almost 60% of Canada's high-tech output, but remains (like the rest of Canada) a net importer of technology.
The appearance of this new and promising venture consoled commentators in the early 1980s, when a slump in the automobile industry seemed to indicate that the industrial system was creaking at its joints, becoming obsolete in precisely those areas where Ontario's greatest strength and heaviest investment was concentrated. The concurrent weakness of an earlier generation of high-tech industries, such as the DE HAVILLAND LTD aircraft company just outside Toronto, gave pause as well. As a result, certain prominent Ontario companies became targets of official concern and well-publicized governmental rescue efforts, notably Chrysler, MASSEY-FERGUSON (now Varity Corp) and de Havilland (passed from Boeing to Bombardier).
The development of Ontario's mining industry is closely associated with the rise of Toronto as Ontario's and Canada's financial centre. The exploitation of minerals in northern Ontario from around 1900 made Toronto first a competitor and then a winner in its long-standing competition with Montréal.
Nickel made the prosperity of the Sudbury Basin; silver, lead and zinc caused a rush to Cobalt in the early 1900s; gold helped keep the provincial (and to some extent the national) economy afloat during the 1930s. In the 1950s another great impetus was given the Ontario economy by the discovery of fabulously rich uranium deposits at Elliot Lake.
Mining is still extremely important in the provincial economy, although recent years through the 1980s and early 1990s have been less prosperous ones for the industry as downturns occurred in the international market for one major metal after another. Even so, in 2000 the value of nickel production in Ontario was $1.4 billion, platinum metals $430 million, copper $551 million, gold $96 million and zinc $143 million.
Ontario has 580 000 km2 of forest land, less than half of which is productive for forestry. Almost all (88%) of it is owned by the province, meaning that forestry is carried on under licence by companies obtaining the necessary permission from the government. In 1998 Ontario's forest industry shipped over $15 billion worth of products. Most of Ontario's pulp and paper products - in fact over 90% - are exported southward to the US.
Ontario's once-prosperous fishing industry has gone into a considerable decline. Whitefish, pickerel and trout were once the principal fish produced in Ontario's Great Lakes fishery, but overfishing and deterioration in water quality, especially in Lake Erie, have taken their toll.
During the 1920s, approximately 10 000 people gained their employment from Ontario's inland fishery. This has declined and the industry now makes only a modest contribution to the Ontario economy, although still an important one in northern communities. Ontario's modest commercial fishery has been hurt by POLLUTION, which also affects the tourist industry of sportfishing, especially in parts of northern Ontario. Nevertheless, sportfishing generates hundreds of millions in total expenditures, thanks mainly to improved fish-stocking techniques.
Toronto's Bay Street area is the centre of the Canadian financial system. All the principal Canadian chartered banks have their head offices in Toronto, in fact if not in name, as do many of Canada's major corporations and brokerage firms. The Toronto Stock Exchange, housed in opulent quarters, is the country's largest. First Canadian Place, chock-full of lawyers, accountants and executives, is Canada's tallest office building at 290 m. The CN TOWER, another monument to commerce, is the world's tallest free-standing structure at 533 m.
BANKING is a national business in Canada, and there is no study that shows whether Ontario as a whole secures any quantifiable benefit from the location of banks in its provincial capital beyond the joie de vivre that bankers and their staffs impart to their community. There is, however, a discernible architectural impact as the banks compete in raising towers to the sky - ziggurats rather than the basilicas that characterized an earlier period in Canadian banking symbolism (see BANK ARCHITECTURE).
Canadian banks maintained more than 3200 branches in Ontario in 1993. If numbers of branches are any indication, Ontarians tended to favour the CANADIAN IMPERIAL BANK OF COMMERCE, a bank with a long history in the province. A largish number of depositors, second only to Québec, preferred to do business with CREDIT UNIONS rather than chartered banks.
Toronto is the principal clearing centre for cheques cashed in Canada, and accounts for the vast majority cashed in the province, not to mention more than half those cleared in the whole country. Toronto is, as well, the headquarters for some of Canada's largest insurance companies, with all the financial resources they bring in their train. Other cities also have insurance headquarters: Kitchener-Waterloo has several, and London even more.
Ontario has 13 436 km of mainline railway track, and more than 21 000 km of paved roads. Roads reach most of the province south of the watershed between Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes; north of that line roads are few; reliable transportation is either by air or by water. Sales of motor gasoline in 1994 totalled 12.7 billion and 2.91 billion L of diesel fuel, propelling a very considerable motor transport industry as well as an enormous fleet of private motor vehicles.
Much debate has occurred in recent years concerning the best or most economical means of transportation. The Ontario government has supplied several answers. It has built and is still expanding a superhighway system across the southern tier of the province, stretching from Montréal to Windsor (although it is still impossible to travel all the way from Toronto to Ottawa by 4-lane highway except via Montréal). The province has also created a rail-and-road commuter service, GO (Government of Ontario) Transit, to serve the Hamilton-to-Oshawa corridor along Lake Ontario, and has intervened in municipal transport through its Urban Transit Development Corp.
Ontario has a large navigable water system, the ST LAWRENCE SEAWAY, along its southern frontier. The WELLAND CANAL, an important part of the seaway channel, links Lakes Ontario and Erie. The advent of the seaway, and subsequently the practice of "containerization" of cargo unloaded at East Coast ports, have had a considerable negative impact on the structure of Ontario's water transport. The most notable casualty has been the port of Toronto, where the number of tonnes shipped and the number of employed dropped drastically - Montréal, Saint John and Halifax being the beneficiaries. Two other Ontario ports, Hamilton and Thunder Bay, are ranked in Canada's top 10 in the amount of cargo handled. Thunder Bay moves mainly coal, wheat and canola, while Hamilton, unsuprisingly, handles iron ore, iron, steel, alloys and coal.
Ontario is and always has been an importer of ENERGY. The primeval forest provided sufficient fuel in pioneer times, but with urban and industrial growth Ontario's energy needs were met by COAL from the nearby pits of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This coal was of a higher quality than that from Nova Scotia, and cheaper to ship. Ontario does have coal deposits of its own, near James Bay, but they have so far been judged uneconomical. Oil and gas were also possibilities, and here Ontario had a slight initial advantage. The oil fields around Petrolia were first exploited in the late 1850s. Natural gas came somewhat later, and for many years Ontario ranked first as a Canadian producer of these commodities. Production, however, is now insignificant in the overall energy picture.
Oil and gas therefore also have to be imported. For many years this meant imports from the US or through East Coast ports. This could sometimes prove precarious, when American shortages of oil and gas (and coal too) placed Ontario heating at risk. During the 1950s the federal and provincial governments made it a priority to connect Ontario with western Canadian oil and gas fields. Oil came first, followed by gas through the Trans-Canada Pipeline, completed in 1958.
Technological advances during the 1880s and 1890s brought Ontario its first large and significant energy source from within the province itself: HYDROELECTRICITY. Ontario is abundantly endowed with streams, rapids and falls. First used for SAWMILLS, these falls could be put to work to generate electricity. NIAGARA FALLS, Ont, has one of the great waterfalls of the world, as well as one of its major tourist attractions. When Niagara power was developed southern Ontario acquired a significant advantage over rival industrial areas. In 1906 most electricity in Ontario was nationalized under the aegis of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, now known as ONTARIO HYDRO, and its aggressive and dynamic founder, Sir Adam BECK. (There is still one private power source, Great Lakes Power.) In 2002, Ontario Hydro was reorganized into 5 companies, and the electricity market became privatized.
Over the years Ontario Hydro expanded into the Ottawa River system and then the St Lawrence. Hydro also began to import power from Québec, emphasizing the limited untapped sources of power for the province. Hydro managers, however, had a strong preference for self-sufficiency.
As this realization was dawning, in the early 1950s, Ontario faced the possibility of building thermal (coal- or oil-fired) power plants (using imported fuel), or of taking a new road. It did both. Thermal plants were built in the 1950s and 1960s, raising the proportion of power generated thermally from practically none in 1960 to over one-third in 1970.
At the same time, in conjunction with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, the federal government's reactor arm, Ontario Hydro began to build nuclear power stations. The first full-scale nuclear power station, at Douglas Point, was opened in 1966, and others have followed at Pickering and Bruce. Nuclear power accounts for most of Ontario's generated electricity. Sales of electricity to the US - some $233 million in 1995 - are expected to continue at around 10% of production.
In 1994 coal (15%), hydroelectricity (25%) and nuclear power (60%) accounted for nearly all of Ontario's generated electricity, with nuclear power being the largest single producer since 1981. Sales of electricity to the US - some $233 million in 1995 - are expected to continue at around 10% of production.
Government and Politics
Ontario's governmental structure is similar to that of other Canadian provinces. A LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR, appointed by the federal government, nominally heads the administration, assisted by an executive council or Cabinet, led by a PREMIER. The Cabinet governs as long as it maintains the confidence of the legislative assembly or provincial parliament, a unicameral body of 130 members, elected for a maximum term of 5 years. The term can, in extraordinary circumstances, however, be extended by legislative action. All Canadian citizens over the age of 18 resident in Ontario can vote in elections. See ONTARIO PREMIERS: TABLE; ONTARIO LIEUTENANT-GOVERNORS: TABLE.
The judiciary, as in other Canadian provinces, is appointed by the province only at the lowest level - "provincial judges," formerly known as magistrates. All other levels of the judiciary are appointed by the federal government. These judges' salaries are paid by Ottawa; the other costs of the courts are borne by the province.
For many years the basic structure of LOCAL GOVERNMENT in Ontario was that provided by Robert BALDWIN's Municipal Corporations Act of 1849, which divided the southern part of the province into COUNTIES, cities, towns and villages. The growth of urban population in the 20th century began to strain the traditional jurisdictions. Rather than let the province's cities expand indefinitely into the surrounding suburbs and countryside, the provincial government looked to the creation of supermunicipalities that could operate on a regional basis and encompass a variety of jurisdictions.
The first of these to be created (1 January 1953) was the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, a federation of Toronto and its suburbs carved out of the southern half of York County. In the 1960s and 1970s various "regional municipalities" on the model of Toronto were created, sometimes to the intense resentment of the local citizenry.
Since 1996, restructuring has reduced the number of municipalities in the province from over 800 to under 600. On 1 January 1998, the 7 local governments of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto - Metro Toronto, East York, Toronto, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York - were amalgamated into a single, unified City of Toronto.
The vast majority of municipalities in the province, including all cities, towns, villages and townships, enjoy powers of local taxation based on property. Only "improvement districts" and police villages have no independent taxation powers. All Ontario municipalities are subject to the review of their actions by the Ontario Municipal Board, which must approve any bylaws creating debt, and which acts as the court of last resort for appeals against municipal actions.
Ontario has 103 members in the House of Commons and 22 senators. Metropolitan Toronto and its environs have more MPs than any province outside Ontario and Québec. When judging its political "clout" it is useful to see Ontario as an assemblage of subregions that seldom vote together federally or provincially.
It is difficult for any single federal politician to say that he or she "represents" Ontario in Ottawa, as Alexander Mackenzie was able to claim over 100 years ago. Mackenzie King, a Torontonian by upbringing, found it possible to constitute most of his governments from 1921-1930 and 1935-1948 with little or no representation from that city. Nevertheless, since then federal prime ministers have given adequate representation to Toronto and the regions of Ontario in forming their Cabinets. Third parties have enjoyed a smattering of support in various federal elections, but they have usually been a distant third in the number of MPs sent to Ottawa.
Much of Ontario's history has been concerned with wringing what the province considered to be adequate tax resources from the federal government in Ottawa. This traditional rivalry abated considerably after 1948, when premier George DREW left for federal politics in Ottawa. Since then, while there have been tensions, co-operation and soft words have been more usual vehicles of discussion than the bellowing practised by many previous administrations.
Ontario derives large revenues from such items as the taxation of liquor and cigarettes (much higher today than in earlier times), as well as the more commonly thought of forms of revenue, such as personal and corporate income tax. Ontario's income and corporate income taxes are collected by the federal government as part of its national tax system, and the proceeds remitted to the province.
Ontario's health services, and the means by which they are supported, are similar to those in other provinces. Federal Acts in 1958 and 1966 first established hospital insurance, paid for by the general public from compulsory premiums, and then comprehensive medical care services ("medicare"). These acts are federal-provincial in nature, as is the co-operation necessary to make them work. This co-operation occasions some political pain, as in 1986 when, in the aftermath of the Canada Health Act, Ontario banned extra billing by doctors. The 2 levels of government frequently debate the amount that each should put into the system, as well as the ways in which it should be spent.
Ontario's public-health insurance system is now consolidated in the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, into which solvent citizens pay a premium and which supports, through subsidy, those unable to pay full or partial premiums.
There are 3 major political parties in Ontario with representation in the provincial legislature. The first 2, the Progressive CONSERVATIVE PARTY ("Tories") and the LIBERAL PARTY ("Grits"), go back to before Confederation. The third party, the NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY, grew out of the CO-OPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH FEDERATION. The Liberals were in power most of the time to 1905, and the Conservatives most of the time since.
The PC Party governed Ontario from 1943-1985. Part of the explanation for its success lay in the noisy and somewhat gamey government which preceded it, that of the Liberal Mitchell HEPBURN (1934-42), and in the fragmentation of the opposition vote between the Liberals and CCF-NDP.
But the PC Party consistently found ways to appeal to widely differing groups across the province and to rely on their solid and continuing support, as with the PC voting bastion in eastern Ontario. It had a formidable political organization: the "Big Blue Machine," strengthened under the successive premierships of Leslie FROST (1949-61), John ROBARTS (1961-71) and William DAVIS (1971-85). Davis cautiously and gradually conceded the substance of BILINGUALISM - for example, education in the French language, or the right to a French trial anywhere in the province - without giving in on the principle. The PCs consistently refused to give constitutional recognition and protection to the French language or to make it an official language of the province. This permitted amelioration in practice for Francophones without rousing anti-French voters in various parts of the province - while tarring the pro-bilingual Liberals with the French-language brush.
Following Davis's resignation in 1985, the new PC leadership under Frank MILLER opted for a platform of more small-c conservative policies, and it was the Liberal Party, under its new leader David PETERSON, that emerged as the successor to the PC Party tradition of middle-of-the-road politics, winning a minority government in 1985 and ending 4 decades of PC rule. A subsequent PC attempt to exploit the bilingual issue in the 1987 provincial election flopped, as Peterson's middle-of-the-road appeal enabled him to win a large majority in September. The essentially leaderless PCs were third in both popular votes and seats, while the Liberals harvested the largest caucus in Ontario's political history.
Peterson's government suffered from intense opposition to its program of trying to bring government spending under control. A snap election call a mere 3 years into Peterson's mandate was received with cynicism by Ontario voters. Many voters objected to his unequivocal support for the Meech Lake Accord. Peterson was defeated in his own riding and his party suffered a crushing defeat as the NDP, under leader Bob Rae, won 74 of 130 seats with only 37.6% of the popular vote.
The NDP formed the government in Ontario for the first time. Rae's regime, unfortunately for the NDP, coincided with a recession which struck Ontario particularly hard. The opposition of business to NDP policies was expected but Rae's attempt to curtail government spending through a "Social Contract" also alienated his natural allies in organized labour. Failure of the NDP left them far behind in the polls when an election was called in spring 1995. During a dramatic election campaign, Mike Harris's appeal to conservative sentiments in the electorate returned the first PC majority since 1985. The "Common-Sense Revolution" led by Harris lost some support from the public but his government still won the 1999 election, capturing 59 out of 103 seats but carrying only 45.1% of the popular vote.
Until 1998, education in Ontario was a joint provincial and local responsibility. The provincial government established goals, standards and guidelines. In 1998, the Harris government introduced Bill 160 to overhaul Ontario's education system. In effect Bill 160 took over most of the responsibility for education from the local level of government. Instead of having full-time, salaried, locally elected trustees, trustees now work for an honorarium of $5000, and the curricula and guidelines are now designed by the provincial government. The number of SCHOOL BOARDS has been reduced as a cost-saving measure and many schools are in danger of closing in order to meet provincially mandated budget cuts. Rather than being responsible for curricula and shared financing, school boards now struggle to accommodate the sweeping cuts made by Queen's Park.
The basic system is further divided between 2 kinds of public school: public, in the strict sense, or nonsectarian; and "separate" or Roman Catholic. Within both of these systems are French-language school boards or French-language sections. Each system is run by boards elected by members of the public who choose to support them through their taxes. This is the result of a compromise at the time of Confederation, when rights for Catholics in Ontario were traded off against those for Protestants in Québec.
Since 1899, Ontario has provided public funds to support education in the Roman Catholic separate schools to the end of grade 10. Unluckily for the Catholics, however, the Confederation bargain was held not to include complete and full financial support of separate schools. This was the cause of occasional political protest and action, most notably during the provincial election of 1934.
In the 1960s the government extended its full support of elementary separate schools to grades 9 and 10, but for years it steadfastly declined to go further. In 1984 Premier Davis startled Catholics and non-Catholics alike with a sudden announcement that his government would cover all the costs of separate school education in the remaining grades. This policy was implemented during the period 1985-87.
The education system is organized into elementary and secondary levels. In general, elementary schools provide programs for children from junior kindergarten to grade 8. As of September 1994, all school boards were required to make junior and senior kindergarten programs available. With Bill 160, however, the future of kindergarten classes has been called into question. Secondary schools serve students enrolled in grades 9 to 12. Students that intend to go on to university are also required to complete a minimum of 6 Ontario Academic Courses.
Private schools are permitted to operate in accordance with the Education Act but do not receive any funding. Parents may also obtain permission from their local school board to educate their school-age children at home.
About 5% of Ontario's students are francophones. Although French-language schools existed in eastern and northern Ontario long before 1968, boards since then have been able to set up French schools "when numbers warrant" (see SEPARATE SCHOOL). The interpretation of this phrase has caused much dispute in certain parts of the province, Penetanguishene being a notable example.
In 1984 the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that every francophone (and anglophone) student in the province has a right to education in his or her mother tongue. Linguistic minorities, the court also made clear, must be guaranteed representation on school boards and a say in minority-language instruction. The government immediately moved to give effect to the court's ruling, which was based upon the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Beyond high school there is the post-secondary structure: 17 degree-graduating UNIVERSITIES, scattered from Ottawa to Windsor to Thunder Bay; 2 university level institutions (Ontario College of Art and Design; Ontario Institute for Studies in Education); and 25 colleges of applied arts and technology (2 of these are new French language colleges).
The post-secondary system expanded greatly during the 1960s, at a time when politicians held education in high regard as a motivator of economic growth.
During the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, decreasing government revenues and growing deficits made it necessary to constrain the funding of educational services. Education, nevertheless, remained a large item in the provincial budget. In 1993-94, $21.3 billion of gross provincial general expenditure was spent to keep over 2 million elementary and secondary students and 352 000 post-secondary students in school.
Little now survives of indigenous art forms, although early inhabitants of Ontario left behind considerable cultural remnants, from the SERPENT MOUNDS near Peterborough to subsequent, more sophisticated examples of carving and pottery. Later settlers brought their own cultural heritage with them, derived from European models. The forms of the mid-19th century, embodied in contemporary handicrafts, still enjoy a considerable popularity and sale with tourists in quest of their heritage. Ontario artists generally follow international styles, whether literary, artistic or architectural, and their work should be, and sometimes is, judged by the best international standards. Artistic and cultural endeavour is encouraged through a variety of government subsidy programs, some federal and some provincial, such as the Ontario Arts Council (founded 1963), an independent government agency which gives grants to individuals and organizations.
Ever practical, the government points out that the arts create jobs. Every grant dollar to orchestras, the taxpayer is reminded in Arts Council literature, directly produces almost $7.00 in wages, fees and operating expenditures.
There are symphony orchestras in Toronto (the TORONTO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA), Ottawa, Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo, as well as a major Shakespearean festival (the STRATFORD FESTIVAL, founded 1953) held each year in Stratford, and the Art Gallery of Ontario and the ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM in Toronto.
Except for Toronto, Ontario's cities support only one English-language daily paper each, and these NEWSPAPERS are almost invariably owned by newspaper chains. Toronto's newspaper life is the most lively, with 3 widely differing newspapers. Toronto is also the home for the large majority of Canada's large magazines, including Maclean's, Canadian Business and Saturday Night, and the headquarters of the larger national publishing firms, such as MCCLELLAND & STEWART and the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO Press, are also located there.
The main English-language facilities of the CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION and the private CTV network are also in Toronto; besides the English-language media there are 3 French-language TV stations in Ontario, plus numerous repeater stations and radio stations, not to mention stations broadcasting in a variety of other languages. TVOntario, a public station, broadcasts in both languages. Most of Ontario is, however, not confined to domestic Canadian television. The availability of nearby American broadcasting systems gives southern Ontario one of the largest choices of TV programming anywhere in the world.
Ontario has long enjoyed a vigorous HISTORIC SITE program and rare is the township lacking a plaque or cairn commemorating a notable person or event. Provincial legislation makes possible the designation of heritage building, and while not an absolute protection this has made possible the preservation of buildings of greater or lesser merit throughout the province.
Among the first historic sites to attract interest were the mid-17th-century JESUIT missions to the Hurons. Having supported research in the area since 1890, the Ontario government undertook the reconstruction of STE MARIE AMONG THE HURONS near Midland in 1964, and opened it to the public 3 years later. Picturesque forts, the legacy of a hundred years of tension along the Canadian-American border from the beginning of the American Revolution, dot the southern reaches of the province. At Kingston, FORT HENRY, whose stone walls were originally completed in the 1830s, is perhaps the best known, but Fort George and FORT ERIE on the NIAGARA HISTORIC FRONTIER, Fort Wellington (Prescott), Fort York (Toronto) and Fort Malden (AMHERSTBURG) have also been restored to their appearance at the time of the international crises and conflicts during the first part of the 19th century.
The life of the province's pioneers is depicted in reconstructed town sites, including UPPER CANADA VILLAGE near Morrisburg and BLACK CREEK PIONEER VILLAGE in northwest Toronto; in 1973 the Ontario government began to rebuild FORT WILLIAM (at Thunder Bay), a fur trading post established by the NORTH WEST CO in 1803. Boating enthusiasts enjoy 2 19th-century canals - the RIDEAU CANAL, built from 1826-32 by the Royal Engineers for the movement of troops and military supplies, and the Trent, which dates back to 1833.
The first immigrants to Ontario seem to have arrived during the last ice age, approximately 10 000 years ago. As the ice retreated, Ontario's paleo-Indian inhabitants moved into the northern region of the province. For many years Ontario's first peoples probably lived by fishing and hunting; deer, elk, bear and beaver were to be found in the south and caribou in the north. By 1000 BC pottery had been introduced, and archaeological sites disclose a far-flung trading system, with importations from as far as the Gulf of Mexico. By 100 AD the inhabitants of the province can be identified with the Algonquian tribes (OJIBWA, CREE and ALGONQUIN found by the explorers), and with the Iroquoian tribes of the south (Iroquois, Huron, Petun, Neutral, Erie and Susquehannock).
The first Europeans known to have approached the present frontiers of Ontario were the luckless Henry HUDSON, cast adrift off the north coast, Étienne BRÛLÉ and Samuel de CHAMPLAIN, who travelled along the Ottawa River in 1613, reaching the centre of the province in 1615. Brûlé was likely the first to see lakes Huron and Ontario. Champlain allied the French with the Huron. After the dispersal of the Huron in the late 1640s, the OTTAWA took the role of middlemen in the fur trade.
The Iroquois Confederacy, located across lakes Ontario and Erie in what is now New York state, dominated the region without significantly settling it. Despite the hostility of the Iroquois, the French continued their penetration of the Great Lakes region, utilizing both the Ottawa-French River-Lake Huron route to the west and the St Lawrence-Great Lakes path.
The adventurer LA SALLE built and sailed the GRIFFON on the lakes, and the Ontario region became a vital link between the French settlements in Québec and their fur trading posts in the Mississippi. During the 18th century the main French posts in the Great Lakes region were FORT FRONTENAC [Kingston], FORT NIAGARA, Fort Detroit and FORT MICHILIMACKINAC.
France's rivals, the British, did not successfully penetrate the region until 1758-59, when they burned Fort Frontenac and captured Fort Niagara. British occupation was not secure until the native allies of the French were defeated after an uprising in 1763-64. The Great Lakes region also served as a base of operations for British (regular and Loyalist) forces during the American Revolution. A series of bloody campaigns and raids did not shake the British hold over their Great Lakes forts but did result in the arrival of Loyalist and Iroquois refugees displaced from the American frontier. The TREATY OF PARIS (1783) divided the Great Lakes down the middle, and created the southern boundary of what is now Ontario.
The modern settlement of Ontario began with the arrival of some 6000 to 10 000 Loyalists during and after the American Revolution. After them came other Americans, attracted by cheap land; crown land was available for sixpence an acre plus survey costs and an oath of allegiance. Under the CONSTITUTIONAL ACT, 1791, the old PROVINCE OF QUEBEC was divided and UPPER CANADA created.
A regular colonial government was established, with a lieutenant-governor, an elected legislative assembly, and appointed legislative and executive councils. The first lieutenant-governor was John Graves SIMCOE, an English veteran of the revolutionary war, who aimed to turn Upper Canada into a bastion of the British Crown in the heart of the continent. Simcoe only half succeeded.
Upper Canada continued to mark the northern fringe of the American frontier, but by 1812 approximately 80% of the estimated 100 000 settlers in southern Ontario were of American origin. When the WAR OF 1812 broke out with the US, the attitude of parts of the province's population proved highly ambivalent, and a few Upper Canadians actually sided with and fought alongside the invaders.
The British army, with assistance from native people and local militia, succeeded in defending most of the province, repelling American invasions along the Niagara frontier in 1812 (QUEENSTON HEIGHTS) and 1813 (BEAVER DAMS and STONEY CREEK). But also in 1813, Americans thrust into southwestern Ontario and raided the provincial capital, York [Toronto], where the government buildings were burned. After several more bloody battles in 1814, the war drew to an end. When news of peace arrived, each side handed back what it had conquered and the boundary remained unchanged.
In the years between 1825 and 1842 the population of Upper Canada tripled to 450 000 and doubled again by 1851. Most of the immigrants came from the British Isles, roughly in the percentages of 20% English, 20% Scottish and 60% Irish. Settlement spread generally from south to north, moving away from the lakes as land along them was occupied. Accessibility to land away from the lakes depended on roads - usually of abominable quality - many of which were built by the settlers themselves.
Rampant land speculation added greatly to the irregularity of early settlement patterns. Southern Ontario's fertile land was substantially occupied by the mid-1850s, by which time the form of government had changed again. In the aftermath of the REBELLIONS OF 1837, led in Upper Canada by Toronto "firebrand" William Lyon MACKENZIE, the British government brought Upper and Lower Canada together in the united PROVINCE OF CANADA.
A further decade of fractious politics resulted in a measure of RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT in 1848-49, by which time immigration, combined with a prolific birthrate, had raised Upper Canada's population (952 004 in 1851) to about 60 000 more than its partner, LOWER CANADA. The agitation, led by George BROWN, for REP BY POP ("representation by population"), so that Upper Canada would receive additional representation in the legislature, led to the increasing paralysis of the province's political system. The crisis was finally resolved in 1864 by the formation of a joint-party regime (see GREAT COALITION) to seek a union of the British North American colonies. This CONFEDERATION was gained in 1867, and Ontario became a province of the new Dominion of Canada.
Ontario's economy in the 1850s was primarily agricultural, with the emphasis on wheat. Over time the balance shifted to dairy, fruit and vegetable farming, and at the same time there was a drift away from farming areas; emigration took place to the US, to the Canadian West or to the cities. Urban and industrial growth rose apace from the 1850s through the 1860s, with the development of textiles and metalworking, farm implements and machinery. Moreover, Toronto grew especially, both as a railway and manufacturing centre and as provincial capital.
Ontario's governments thereafter took up developing the province's natural resources - lumber, mines and later hydroelectricity. Much political energy was then consumed by a lengthy series of quarrels with the federal government over patronage, waterpower and the northern BOUNDARIES of the province - a problem settled in 1889, at the expense of Manitoba, by confirming Ontario's western boundary at the LAKE OF THE WOODS. The final boundary was drawn in 1912.
Under Sir Oliver MOWAT's Liberal government (1872-96), Ontario led the way in advocating provincial rights against the overriding powers of the federal government under Sir John A. MACDONALD. It also extended government services for a province now thriving on quite intensive agriculture, widening resource activities and industrial advance in Canada's richest internal market. But the Liberal regime gradually declined from the later 1890s and was at last terminated in a flurry of scandals in 1905.
Its Tory successor, under Sir James WHITNEY (1905-14), made its mark by establishing the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario. Whitney's successor, Sir William HEARST, was turned out by a political revolution among the province's farmers, who took office with labour support in 1919 as the UNITED FARMERS OF ONTARIO. Although the UFO government curbed some of the peculiarities of its Tory predecessor, it was politically accident-prone and quickly fell victim to a revitalized PC Party under Howard FERGUSON (1923-30). Ferguson was a determined man, as well as an able and wily politician. He tapped Ontarians' desire to enhance the provincial revenues through the provincially owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which was designed to promote TEMPERANCE as well as revenue. He also defused a long-standing controversy with the province's French-language population by reintroducing official French classes in schools; and as his predecessors had done, he continued a policy of developing provincial resources, including the colonization of the Ontario northland, an enterprise with many pitfalls.
Ferguson's successor, George HENRY, had to cope with the ravages of the Great Depression, not to mention the attacks of a reinvigorated provincial Liberal Party under Mitchell Hepburn. Hepburn swept Henry out of office with promises of reform and economy in 1934. Neither object was really achieved, although Hepburn did succeed in achieving the pasteurization of Ontario's milk against the cries of opposition from dairy farmers.
Hepburn battled the appearance of industrial unionism from the US and in 1937 fought and won a provincial election on the issue. His regime is principally remembered for his violent attacks on his fellow Liberal, Prime Minister Mackenzie King, and for his obstructionist attitude towards attempts to solve Canada's constitutional perplexities. Hepburn resigned in 1942, and his party was turned out of office in an election in 1943 that made the PCs under George Drew the government and the Socialist CCF the official opposition.
Drew's government vigorously promoted immigration, especially from the British Isles, and a series of overdue reforms. Like Hepburn, Drew combated Ottawa and its "centralizing" schemes. It was only after Drew's departure in 1948 that Premier Leslie Frost adopted a quieter and more co-operative attitude to the central government, a major reversal in Ontario's policy. Frost shared the developmental objectives of Liberal ministers in Ottawa such as C.D. HOWE, and the 2 governments co-operated on major projects such as the St Lawrence Seaway, the TransCanada PipeLine and the development of nuclear power.
Frost's successors, John Robarts and William Davis, were cast in his low-key, down-to-earth mold; both strove to minimize conflict between Conservative Ontario and the usually Liberal federal government. Through his Confederation for Tomorrow Conference in 1967, Robarts tried to work out an accommodation that would satisfy Québec and keep it in Confederation. In 1981-82 Davis strongly supported Pierre Trudeau in patriating and reforming the Canadian Constitution. David Peterson's relations with Brian Mulroney were not as smooth. A reluctant supporter of Mulroney's 1987 MEECH LAKE ACCORD, Peterson strongly opposed the federal FREE TRADE initiative with the US the same year. Peterson lost the next election to Bob RAE, who formed the first provincial NDP government in Ontario's history. After serving his mandate Rae lost to Mike Harris, who led his Conservatives to back-to-back victories in 1995 and 1999.
Though Ontario has often been perceived by other parts of Canada as a massive "central Canada" monolith, it is in reality a conglomerate of considerably different subregions - most obviously in its far-flung, primary-resource-based northern area and its industrialized, urbanized south. Despite its overall prosperity, Ontario itself suffers from regional disparities. Peripheral areas believe that they experience discrimination at the hands of the urbanized core, particularly Metropolitan Toronto.
Attempts to classify these regions (eg, the Ontario government's Ontario Economic and Social Aspects Survey, 1961, which outlined 10 "economic regions") have proven inadequate because of the complex factors that must be considered. Nevertheless, many of the problems that are referred to on a national level (such as rural poverty, heavy concentration of industry in a few areas, the precarious life of communities based on a single economic activity, and disparities of income and of economic growth) are clearly evident within the province itself.
Still, Ontario does have some aggregate distinctive traits: a political conservatism, seen in the longevity of its provincial regimes; a practical readiness to adapt, evinced in many applications of the power of its governments; and a keen awareness of the all-but-embracing US around its core, which has meant both strong cross-border ties and determined responses to perceived threats of American power.
Author ROBERT BOTHWELL AND NORMAN HILLMER
C. Armstrong, The Politics of Federalism (1982); Robert Bothwell, A Short History of Ontario (1986); G.P. de T. Glazebrook, Life in Ontario: A Social History (1975); D.C. MacDonald, ed, Government and Politics of Ontario (rev ed 1980); H.V. Nelles, The Politics of Development (1974); F.F. Schindeler, Responsible Government in Ontario (1973); J. Schull, Ontario Since 1867; J.D. Wood, ed, Perspectives on Landscape and Settlement in Nineteenth Century Ontario (1975).
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
Government of Ontario
The official website of the Government of Ontario. A good resource for information about Ontario's history, economy, geography, and much more.
Ontario Archaeological Society
The Ontario Archaeological Society is a provincial organization concerned with recording and preserving Ontario's non-renewable cultural heritage. Their website offers an archaeological history of Ontario.
Symbols of Canada
An illustrated guide to national and provincial symbols of Canada, our national anthem, national and provincial holidays, and more. Click on "Historical Flags of Canada" and then "Posters of Historical Flags of Canada" for additional images. From the Canadian Heritage website.
Museum of Ontario Archaeology
The official website of the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. Check out the Lawson Prehistoric Iroquoian Village and click on the "Exhibits" link for the "Ask an Archaeologist" feature and the virtual tour of the museum. A University of Western Ontario website.
Ontario Heritage Trust website
The website for the Ontario Heritage Trust, an organization dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's rich and varied heritage for the benefit of present and future generations.
Archives of Ontario
The collections held by the Archives of Ontario are a rich resource for the study of the history of Ontario and its people. Check out the historic photographs, paintings, documents, patriotic posters, personal letters, audio files, and other online features.
Library and Archives Canada
The website for Library and Archives Canada. Offers searchable online collections of textual documents, photographs, audio recordings, and other digitized resources. Also includes virtual exhibits about Canadian history and culture, and research aids that assist in locating material in the physical collections.
Buxton Settlement National Historic Site of Canada
See a description of heritage characteristics of the Buxton Settlement National Historic Site of Canada, a stop on the Ontario portion of the Underground Railroad. Search this site for other locations on this historic route to freedom for ex-slaves from the US. From Parks Canada.
Maps of provinces and territories from "The Atlas of Canada," Natural Resources Canada.
Check this Ontario government website for the latest information about public health issues in Ontario. From the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Ministry of Tourism and Recreation
Check out this Government of Ontario website for current information about visiting Ontario.
Archaeology in Kingston and Eastern Ontario
Dig into the archaeological history of Eastern Ontario at this Cataraqui Archaeological Research Foundation website.
This guide to the popular Algonquin Provincial Park is provided by Ontario Parks. Also check out the link to The Friends of Algonquin Park website.
Settlement of Adolphustown
This RootsWeb.com website focuses on the early Loyalist settlements in the Napanee region of Ontario.
Glossary: Parliamentary Terms
A bilingual glossary of terms commonly used in reference to parliamentary procedure. From the Office of the Legislative Assembly, Province of Ontario.
Geographical Names of Canada
Search the "Canadian Geographical Names Data Base" for the official name of a city, town, lake (or any other geographical feature) in any province or territory in Canada. See also the real story of how Toronto got its name. A Natural Resources Canada website.
A Collector's Passion - The Peter Winkworth Collection
View an extensive collection of distinctive paintings that document more than four centuries of Canadian history. Also features artist's biographies and notes about specific paintings. From the Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana at Library and Archives Canada.
This Ontario Northland website documents the company's transportation and telecommunications operations.
An overview of the major issues and events leading up to Ontario's entry into Confederation. Includes biographies of prominent personalities, old photos and related archival material. From Library and Archives Canada.
Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development
This Laurentian University institute specializes in Northern Ontario economic and social issues.
An interactive guide to "Geologic Journey," a CBC documentary series which traces the extraordinary geologic history of the North America continent.
Office of the Premier
The official website for Ontario's Office of the Premier.
Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
The OSSTF offers support and professional services for teachers and other educators in Ontario’s secondary schools.
A history of the "census" in Canada. Check the menu on the left for data on small groups (such as lone-parent families, ethnic groups, industrial and occupational categories and immigrants) and for information about areas as small as a city neighbourhood or as large as the entire country. From the website for Statistics Canada.
Ontario Ministry of Education
Provincial curricula and other educational resources for Ontario schools.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario
Extensive collection of professional resources for Ontario’s elementary teachers.
Ontario Trillium Foundation
The Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Culture, seeks to strengthen Ontario communities through support of projects in the arts, social services, recreational sports and other sectors.
The Rat Portage War
A fascinating account of the 19th Century border dispute involving Manitoba and Ontario. From the Winnipeg Police Service website.
OurVoices - Stories of Canadian People and Culture
An superb online audio collection of traditional stories about the Omushkego (Swampy Cree) people of northern Manitoba and Ontario. Presented in Cree and in English by Louis Bird, storyteller and elder. Also features printed transcripts and other resources. From the Centre for Rupert's Land Studies at the University of Winnipeg.
Aboriginal Place Names
This site highlights Aboriginal place names found across Canada. From the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
Archives Canada is a gateway to archival resources found in over 800 repositories across Canada. Features searchable access to virtual exhibits and photo databases residing on the websites of individual archives or Provincial/Territorial Councils. Includes documentary records, maps, photographs, sound recordings, videos, and more.
Search for historical maps of specific locations in Canada at this website from Research Collections, McMaster University Library.
The Premier's Kid Zone
Explore Ontario geography, government, and history at the "Premier's Kid Zone" website. From the Government of Ontario.
National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials
A searchable database of over 5,100 Canadian military memorials. Provides photographs, descriptions, and the wording displayed on plaques. Also a glossary of related terms. A website from the Directorate of History and Heritage.
The website for the Algonquin Nation in present day Ontario. Check out the proud history of the Algonquin people in the Ottawa River region.
Yours to Discover: Tourism in Ontario through Time
View historic photos and video clips that highlight the history of tourism promotion in Ontario. From the Archives of Ontario website.
Prohibition and the Smuggling of Intoxicating Liquors between the Two Saults
An article about the history of the prohibition movement in Canada, the Ontario Temperance Act, liquor smuggling activities in the Sault Ste. Marie region, and related issues. From the website for the Canadian Nautical Research Society. A PDF file.
Names of the provinces and territories
Abbreviations and symbols for the names of the provinces and territories. From the website for Natural Resources Canada.
Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Learn about the history and current organization of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
The Constitutional Act
Read an online digitized copy of the landmark "Constitutional Act," a decree signed by King George III of England on June 10, 1791, that created the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. On its pages are details pertaining to the establishment of effective government institutions, the responsibilities of the lieutenant governor, the role of the church, and more. From Canadiana Online.
The Wabakimi Project
The website for The Wabakimi Project, which is devoted to exploring and documenting the historical and traditional canoe routes of Wabakimi Provincial Park. Check out the descriptions of the park's natural history, heritage, hydrology, and current recreational activities.
The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project
View digitized copies of 19th century Ontario county atlases from the McGill University website.
Ontario Trees & Shrubs
An illustrated searchable guide to trees and shrubs that grow in Ontario. From ontariotrees.com.
Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
A listing of Ontario's vice-regal representatives since 1792. From the Government of Ontario.
Ontario's Tree Atlas
An illustrated online guide to trees that are native to Ontario. Also provides information about the most suitable locations and conditions for planting and maintaining each species. A Government of Ontario website.