Ontario
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet (Latin)
("Loyal she began, loyal she remains")
ON
Canadian Provinces and Territories
Capital Toronto
Largest city Toronto
Largest metro Greater Toronto Area
Official languages English
Demonym Ontarian
Government
Type Constitutional monarchy
Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell
Premier Kathleen Wynne (Liberal)
Legislature Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Federal representation (in Canadian Parliament)
House seats 121 of 308 (39.3%)
Senate seats 24 of 105 (22.9%)
Confederation July 1, 1867 (1st, with QC, NS, NB)
Area  Ranked 4th
Total 1,076,395 km2 (415,598 sq mi)
Land 917,741 km2 (354,342 sq mi)
Water (%) 158,654 km2 (61,257 sq mi) (14.7%)
Proportion of Canada 10.8% of 9,984,670 km2
Population  Ranked 1st
Total (2016) 13,448,494
Density (2016) 14.65/km2 (37.9/sq mi)
GDP  Ranked 1st
Total (2015) C$763.276 billion
Per capita C$55,322 (7th)
Abbreviations
Postal ON
ISO 3166-2 CA-ON
Time zone Eastern: UTC -5/-4
(east of 90th meridian west, and Pickle Lake)
Eastern: UTC -5
(Atikokan; does not observe DST)
Central: UTC -6/-5
(west of 90th meridian west, ex. Pickle Lake & Atikokan)
Postal code prefix K L M N P
Flower White Trillium
Tree Eastern White Pine
Bird Common loon
Website www.ontario.ca
Rankings include all provinces and territories

Ontario (Listeni/ɒnˈtɛəri/; French pronunciation: [ɔ̃taʁjo]), one of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada, is located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province by a large margin, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all Canadians, and is the second-largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth-largest in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included. It is home to the nation's capital city, Ottawa, and the nation's most populous city, Toronto.

Ontario is bordered by the province of Manitoba to the west, Hudson Bay and James Bay to the north, and Quebec to the east and northeast, and to the south by the U.S. states of (from west to east) Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Almost all of Ontario's 2,700 km (1,678 mi) border with the United States follows inland waterways: from the west at Lake of the Woods, eastward along the major rivers and lakes of the Great Lakes/Saint Lawrence River drainage system. These are the Rainy River, the Pigeon River, Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and along the St. Lawrence River from Kingston, Ontario, to the Quebec boundary just east of Cornwall, Ontario. There is only about 1 km (0.6 mi) of land border made up of portages including Height of Land Portage on the Minnesota border.

Ontario is sometimes conceptually divided into two regions, Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario. The great majority of Ontario's population and arable land is located in the south. In contrast, the larger, northern part of Ontario is sparsely populated with cold winters and is heavily forested.

Etymology

The province is named after Lake Ontario, a term thought to be derived from Ontarí:io, a Huron (Wyandot) word meaning "great lake", or possibly skanadario, which means "beautiful water" in the Iroquoian languages. Ontario has about 250,000 freshwater lakes.

Geography

See also: Census divisions of Ontario and Geography of Canada
See also: List of parks and protected areas of Ontario
Algonquin Cache Lake Lookout
Algonquin Provincial Park, Cache Lake in the autumn of 2006.

The province consists of three main geographical regions:

  • The thinly populated Canadian Shield in the northwestern and central portions, which comprises over half the land area of Ontario. Although this area mostly does not support agriculture, it is rich in minerals and in part covered by the Central and Midwestern Canadian Shield forests, studded with lakes and rivers. Northern Ontario is subdivided into two sub-regions: Northwestern Ontario and Northeastern Ontario.
  • The virtually unpopulated Hudson Bay Lowlands in the extreme north and northeast, mainly swampy and sparsely forested.
  • Southern Ontario which is further sub-divided into four regions; Central Ontario (although not actually the province's geographic centre), Eastern Ontario, Golden Horseshoe and Southwestern Ontario (parts of which were formerly referred to as Western Ontario).

Despite the absence of any mountainous terrain in the province, there are large areas of uplands, particularly within the Canadian Shield which traverses the province from northwest to southeast and also above the Niagara Escarpment which crosses the south. The highest point is Ishpatina Ridge at 693 metres (2,274 ft) above sea level located in Temagami, Northeastern Ontario. In the south, elevations of over 500 m (1,600 ft)* are surpassed near Collingwood, above the Blue Mountains in the Dundalk Highlands and in hilltops near the Madawaska River in Renfrew County.

The Carolinian forest zone covers most of the southwestern region of the province. The temperate and fertile Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Valley in the south is part of the Eastern Great Lakes lowland forests ecoregion where the forest has now been largely replaced by agriculture, industrial and urban development. A well-known geographic feature is Niagara Falls, part of the Niagara Escarpment. The Saint Lawrence Seaway allows navigation to and from the Atlantic Ocean as far inland as Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario. Northern Ontario occupies roughly 87 percent of the surface area of the province; conversely Southern Ontario contains 94 percent of the population.

Point Pelee is a peninsula of Lake Erie in southwestern Ontario (near Windsor and Detroit, Michigan) that is the southernmost extent of Canada's mainland. Pelee Island and Middle Island in Lake Erie extend slightly farther. All are south of 42°N – slightly farther south than the northern border of California.

Climate

See also: Geography of Ontario#Climate
Lake Ontario - Sandbanks Provincial Park 2001
Summer at Sandbanks Provincial Park on Lake Ontario.

The climate of Ontario varies by season and location. It is affected by three air sources: cold, dry, arctic air from the north (dominant factor during the winter months, and for a longer part of the year in far northern Ontario); Pacific polar air crossing in from the western Canadian Prairies/US Northern Plains; and warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The effects of these major air masses on temperature and precipitation depend mainly on latitude, proximity to major bodies of water and to a small extent, terrain relief. In general, most of Ontario's climate is classified as humid continental. Ontario has three main climatic regions.

The surrounding Great Lakes greatly influence the climatic region of southern Ontario. During the fall and winter months, heat stored from the lakes is released, moderating the climate near the shores of the lakes. This gives some parts of southern Ontario milder winters than mid-continental areas at lower latitudes. Parts of Southwestern Ontario (generally south of a line from Sarnia-Toronto) have a moderate humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa), similar to that of the inland Mid-Atlantic states and the Great Lakes portion of the Midwestern United States. The region has warm to hot, humid summers and cold winters. Annual precipitation ranges from 750–1,000 mm (30–39 in) and is well distributed throughout the year. Most of this region lies in the lee of the Great Lakes, making for abundant snow in some areas. In December 2010, the snowbelt set a new record when it was hit by more than a metre of snow within 48 hours. The next climatic region is Central and Eastern Ontario which has a moderate humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb). This region has warm and sometimes hot summers with colder, longer winters, ample snowfall (even in regions not directly in the snowbelts) and annual precipitation similar to the rest of Southern Ontario.

Escarpment at Bruce Peninsula
The Niagara Escarpment on the Bruce Peninsula.

In the northeastern parts of Ontario, extending far as south as Kirkland Lake, the cold waters of Hudson Bay depress summer temperatures, making it cooler than other locations at similar latitudes. The same is true on the northern shore of Lake Superior, which cools hot humid air from the south, leading to cooler summer temperatures. Along the eastern shores of Lake Superior and Lake Huron winter temperatures are slightly moderated but come with frequent heavy lake-effect snow squalls that increase seasonal snowfall totals upwards of 3 m (10 ft) in some places. These regions have higher annual precipitation in some case over 100 cm (39 in). The northernmost parts of Ontario — primarily north of 50°N — have a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc) with long, severely cold winters and short, cool to warm summers with dramatic temperature changes possible in all seasons. With no major mountain ranges blocking sinking Arctic air masses, temperatures of −40 °C (−40 °F) are not uncommon; snowfall remains on the ground for sometimes over half the year. Snowfall accumulation can be high in some areas. Precipitation is generally less than 70 cm (28 in) and peaks in the summer months in the form of showers or thunderstorms.

Severe thunderstorms peak in summer. London, situated in Southern (Southwestern) Ontario, has the most lightning strikes per year in Canada, averaging 34 days of thunderstorm activity per year. In a typical year, Ontario averages 11 confirmed tornado touchdowns. However, over the last 4 years, it has had upwards of 20 tornado touchdowns per year, with the highest frequency occurring in the Windsor-Essex – Chatham Kent area, though few are very destructive (the majority between F0 to F2 on the Fujita scale). Ontario had a record 29 tornadoes in both 2006 and 2009. Tropical depression remnants occasionally bring heavy rains and winds in the south, but are rarely deadly. A notable exception was Hurricane Hazel which struck Southern Ontario centred on Toronto, in October 1954.

Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected locations in Ontario
City July (°C) July (°F) January (°C) January (°F)
Windsor (Windsor International Airport) 28/18 82/64 0/-7 31/19
Niagara Falls (NPCSH) 27/17 81/63 0/-8 30/18
Toronto (The Annex) 27/18 80/64 −1/−7 30/20
Midland (Water Pollution Control Plant) 26/16 78/61 −4/-13 25/8
Ottawa (Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport) 27/16 80/60 −6/−14 22/6
Sudbury (Sudbury Airport) 25/13 77/56 −8/−19 18/0
Emo (Emo Radbourne) 25/11 77/52 –9/–22 15/–9
Thunder Bay (Thunder Bay International Airport) 24/11 76/52 −9/−21 18/−5
Kenora (Kenora Airport) 24/15 76/59 −11/−21 12/−5
Moosonee (UA) 23/9 73/48 −14/-26 8/-15

History

Territorial evolution

Canada provinces evolution 2
Evolution of the borders of Ontario.
View full resolution for time-lapsed evolution

Land was not legally subdivided into administrative units until a treaty had been concluded with the Aboriginal people ceding the land. In 1788, while part of the Province of Quebec, southern Ontario was divided into four districts: Hesse, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, and Nassau.

In 1792, the four districts were renamed: Hesse became the Western District, Lunenburg became the Eastern District, Mecklenburg became the Midland District, and Nassau became the Home District. Counties were created within the districts.

By 1798, there were eight districts: Eastern, Home, Johnstown, London, Midland, Newcastle, Niagara, and Western.

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

By 1838, there were twenty districts: Bathurst, Brock, Colbourne, Dalhousie, Eastern, Gore, Home, Huron, Johnstown, London, Midland, Newcastle, Niagara, Ottawa, Prince Edward, Simcoe, Talbot, Victoria, Wellington, and Western.

In 1849, the districts of southern Ontario were abolished by the Province of Canada, and county governments took over certain municipal responsibilities. The Province of Canada also began creating districts in sparsely populated Northern Ontario with the establishment of Algoma District and Nipissing District in 1858.

The borders of Ontario, its new name in 1867, were provisionally expanded north and west. When the Province of Canada was formed, its borders were not entirely clear, and Ontario claimed eventually to reach all the way to the Rocky Mountains and Arctic Ocean. With Canada's acquisition of Rupert's Land, Ontario was interested in clearly defining its borders, especially since some of the new areas in which it was interested were rapidly growing. After the federal government asked Ontario to pay for construction in the new disputed area, the province asked for an elaboration on its limits, and its boundary was moved north to the 51st parallel north.

The northern and western boundaries of Ontario were in dispute after Canadian Confederation. Ontario's right to Northwestern Ontario was determined by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1884 and confirmed by the Canada (Ontario Boundary) Act, 1889 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. By 1899, there were seven northern districts: Algoma, Manitoulin, Muskoka, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, and Thunder Bay. Four more northern districts were created between 1907 and 1912: Cochrane, Kenora, Sudbury and Timiskaming.

European contact

UnitedEmpireLoyalistsHamilton
Statue of United Empire Loyalists in downtown Hamilton on Main Street East.

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the region was inhabited by Algonquian (Ojibwa, Cree and Algonquin) in the northern/western portions, and Iroquois and Wyandot (Huron) tribes more in the south/east. During the 17th century, the Algonquians and Hurons fought the Beaver Wars against the Iroquois. The French explorer Étienne Brûlé explored part of the area in 1610–12. The English explorer Henry Hudson sailed into Hudson Bay in 1611 and claimed the area for England.

Samuel de Champlain reached Lake Huron in 1615, and French missionaries began to establish posts along the Great Lakes. French settlement was hampered by their hostilities with the Iroquois, who allied themselves with the British. From 1634 to 1640, Hurons were devastated by European infectious diseases, such as measles and smallpox, to which they had no immunity. By 1700, the Iroquois had seceded from Ontario and the Mississaugas of the Ojibwa had settled the north shore of Lake Ontario.

The British established trading posts on Hudson Bay in the late 17th century and began a struggle for domination of Ontario. The 1763 Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years' War by awarding nearly all of France's North American possessions (New France) to Britain. The region was annexed to Quebec in 1774. The first European settlements were in 1782–1784 when 5,000 American loyalists entered what is now Ontario following the American Revolution. The Kingdom of Great Britain granted them 200 acres (81 ha) land and other items with which to rebuild their lives. The British also set up reservations in Ontario for the Mohawks who had fought for the British and had lost their land in New York state. Other Iroquois were resettled in 1784 at the Six Nations reserve at the west end of Lake Ontario.

The population of Canada west of the St. Lawrence-Ottawa River confluence substantially increased during this period, a fact recognized by the Constitutional Act of 1791, which split Quebec into the Canadas: Upper Canada southwest of the St. Lawrence-Ottawa River confluence, and Lower Canada east of it. John Graves Simcoe was appointed Upper Canada's first Lieutenant governor in 1793.

Upper Canada

American troops in the War of 1812 invaded Upper Canada across the Niagara River and the Detroit River, but were defeated and pushed back by the British, Canadian fencibles and militias, and First Nations warriors. However, eventually the Americans gained control of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. During the Battle of York in 1813, American troops occupied the Town of York. The Americans looted the town and burned the Parliament Buildings during the brief occupation.

After the War of 1812, relative stability allowed for increasing numbers of immigrants to arrive from Europe rather than from the United States. As was the case in the previous decades, this immigration shift was encouraged by the colonial leaders. Despite affordable and often free land, many arriving newcomers, mostly from Britain and Ireland, found frontier life with the harsh climate difficult, and some of those with the means eventually returned home or went south. However, population growth far exceeded emigration in the decades that followed. It was a mostly agrarian-based society, but canal projects and a new network of plank roads spurred greater trade within the colony and with the United States, thereby improving previously damaged relations over time.

Ontario 1718
Lower Ontario in 1718, Guillaume de L'Isle map, approximate province area highlighted.

Meanwhile, Ontario's numerous waterways aided travel and transportation into the interior and supplied water power for development. As the population increased, so did the industries and transportation networks, which in turn led to further development. By the end of the century, Ontario vied with Quebec as the nation's leader in terms of growth in population, industry, arts and communications.

Unrest in the colony began to chafe against the aristocratic Family Compact who governed while benefiting economically from the region's resources, and who did not allow elected bodies power. This resentment spurred republican ideals and sowed the seeds for early Canadian nationalism. Accordingly, rebellion in favour of responsible government rose in both regions; Louis-Joseph Papineau led the Lower Canada Rebellion and William Lyon Mackenzie led the Upper Canada Rebellion.

Canada West

Although both rebellions were put down in short order, the British government sent Lord Durham to investigate the causes of the unrest. He recommended that self-government be granted and that Lower and Upper Canada be re-joined in an attempt to assimilate the French Canadians. Accordingly, the two colonies were merged into the Province of Canada by the Act of Union 1840, with the capital at Kingston, and Upper Canada becoming known as Canada West. Parliamentary self-government was granted in 1848. There were heavy waves of immigration in the 1840s, and the population of Canada West more than doubled by 1851 over the previous decade. As a result, for the first time the English-speaking population of Canada West surpassed the French-speaking population of Canada East, tilting the representative balance of power.

An economic boom in the 1850s coincided with railway expansion across the province, further increasing the economic strength of Central Canada. With the repeal of the Corn Laws and a reciprocity agreement in place with United States, various industries such as timber, mining, farming and alcohol distilling benefited tremendously.

A political stalemate between the French- and English-speaking legislators, as well as fear of aggression from the United States during and immediately after the American Civil War, led the political elite to hold a series of conferences in the 1860s to effect a broader federal union of all British North American colonies. The British North America Act took effect on July 1, 1867, establishing the Dominion of Canada, initially with four provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. The Province of Canada was divided into Ontario and Quebec so that each linguistic group would have its own province. Both Quebec and Ontario were required by section 93 of the British North America Act to safeguard existing educational rights and privileges of Protestant and the Catholic minority. Thus, separate Catholic schools and school boards were permitted in Ontario. However, neither province had a constitutional requirement to protect its French- or English-speaking minority. Toronto was formally established as Ontario's provincial capital.

Provincehood

One London Place Night
Downtown London at night.
VEDaySparksStreet1945
Celebrating V-E Day in Ottawa in 1945
Skyline of Toronto viewed from Harbour
Toronto, the capital of Ontario

Once constituted as a province, Ontario proceeded to assert its economic and legislative power. In 1872, the lawyer Oliver Mowat became Premier of Ontario and remained as premier until 1896. He fought for provincial rights, weakening the power of the federal government in provincial matters, usually through well-argued appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. His battles with the federal government greatly decentralized Canada, giving the provinces far more power than John A. Macdonald had intended. He consolidated and expanded Ontario's educational and provincial institutions, created districts in Northern Ontario, and fought to ensure that those parts of Northwestern Ontario not historically part of Upper Canada (the vast areas north and west of the Lake Superior-Hudson Bay watershed, known as the District of Keewatin) would become part of Ontario, a victory embodied in the Canada (Ontario Boundary) Act, 1889. He also presided over the emergence of the province into the economic powerhouse of Canada. Mowat was the creator of what is often called Empire Ontario.

Beginning with Sir John A. Macdonald's National Policy (1879) and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (1875–1885) through Northern Ontario and the Canadian Prairies to British Columbia, Ontario manufacturing and industry flourished. However, population increase slowed after a large recession hit the province in 1893, thus slowing growth drastically but for only a few years. Many newly arrived immigrants and others moved west along the railway to the Prairie Provinces and British Columbia, sparsely settling Northern Ontario.

Mineral exploitation accelerated in the late 19th century, leading to the rise of important mining centres in the northeast, such as Sudbury, Cobalt and Timmins. The province harnessed its water power to generate hydro-electric power and created the state-controlled Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, later Ontario Hydro. The availability of cheap electric power further facilitated the development of industry. The Ford Motor Company of Canada was established in 1904. General Motors Canada was formed in 1918. The motor vehicle industry became the most lucrative industry for the Ontario economy during the 20th century.

In July 1912, the Conservative government of Sir James Whitney issued Regulation 17 which severely limited the availability of French-language schooling to the province's French-speaking minority. French Canadians reacted with outrage, journalist Henri Bourassa denouncing the "Prussians of Ontario". The regulation was eventually repealed in 1927.

Influenced by events in the United States, the government of Sir William Hearst introduced prohibition of alcoholic drinks in 1916 with the passing of the Ontario Temperance Act. However, residents could distill and retain their own personal supply, and liquor producers could continue distillation and export for sale, allowing this already sizeable industry to strengthen further. Ontario became a hotbed for the illegal smuggling of liquor and the biggest supplier into the United States, which was under complete prohibition. Prohibition in Ontario came to an end in 1927 with the establishment of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario under the government of Howard Ferguson. The sale and consumption of liquor, wine, and beer are still controlled by some of the most extreme laws in North America to ensure that strict community standards and revenue generation from the alcohol retail monopoly are upheld. In April 2007, Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament Kim Craitor suggested that local brewers should be able to sell their beer in local corner stores; however, the motion was quickly rejected by Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The post-World War II period was one of exceptional prosperity and growth. Ontario has been the recipients of most immigration to Canada, largely immigrants from war-torn Europe in the 1950s and 1960s and following changes in federal immigration law, a massive influx of non-Europeans since the 1970s. From a largely ethnically British province, Ontario has rapidly become culturally very diverse.

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

Ontario's official language is English. Numerous French language services are available under the French Language Services Act of 1990 in designated areas where sizeable francophone populations exist.

Demographics

Historical populations
Year Pop. ±%
1851 952,004 —    
1861 1,396,091 +46.6%
1871 1,620,851 +16.1%
1881 1,926,922 +18.9%
1891 2,114,321 +9.7%
1901 2,182,947 +3.2%
1911 2,527,292 +15.8%
1921 2,933,662 +16.1%
1931 3,431,683 +17.0%
1941 3,787,655 +10.4%
1951 4,597,542 +21.4%
1956 5,404,933 +17.6%
1961 6,236,092 +15.4%
1966 6,960,870 +11.6%
1971 7,703,105 +10.7%
1976 8,264,465 +7.3%
1981 8,625,107 +4.4%
1986 9,101,695 +5.5%
1991 10,084,885 +10.8%
1996 10,753,573 +6.6%
2001 11,410,046 +6.1%
2006 12,160,282 +6.6%
2011 12,851,821 +5.7%
2016 13,448,494 +4.6%
Source: Statistics Canada

In the 2011 census, Ontario had a population of 12,851,821 living in 4,887,508 of its 5,308,785 total dwellings, a 5.7 percent change from its 2006 population of 12,160,282. With a land area of 908,607.67 km2 (350,815.38 sq mi), it had a population density of 14.1/km2 (37/sq mi) in 2011. In 2013, Statistics Canada estimated the province's population to be 13,537,994.

The percentages given below add to more than 100 percent because of dual responses (e.g., "French and Canadian" response generates an entry both in the category "French Canadian" and in the category "Canadian").

The majority of Ontarians are of English or other European descent including large Scottish, Irish and Italian communities. Slightly less than 5 percent of the population of Ontario is Franco-Ontarian, that is those whose native tongue is French, although those with French ancestry account for 11 percent of the population. In relation to natural increase or inter-provincial migration, immigration is a huge population growth force in Ontario, as it has been over the last two centuries. More recent sources of immigrants with large or growing communities in Ontario include Caribbeans, Latin Americans, Europeans, Asians, and Africans. Most populations have settled in the larger urban centres.

In 2011, 25.9 percent of the population consisted of visible minorities and 2.4 percent of the population was Aboriginal, mostly of First Nations and Métis descent. There was also a small number of Inuit people in the province. The number of Aboriginal people and visible minorities has been increasing at a faster rate than the general population of Ontario.

Religion

In 2011, the largest religious denominations in Ontario were the Roman Catholic Church (with 31.4% of the population), the United Church of Canada (7.5%), and the Anglican Church (6.1%). 23.1% of Ontarians had no religious affiliation, making it the second-largest religious grouping in the province after Roman Catholics.

The major religious groups in Ontario in 2011 were:

Religion People %
Total 12,651,795 100  
Catholic 3,976,610 31.4
No religious affiliation 2,927,790 23.1
Protestant 2,668,665 21.1
Other Christians 1,224,300 9.7
Muslim 581,950 4.6
Hindu 366,720 2.9
Christian Orthodox 297,710 2.4
Jewish 195,540 1.5
Sikh 179,765 1.4
Buddhist 163,750 1.3
Other Religions 68,985 0.5

Language

See also: Franco-Ontarian

The principal language of Ontario is English, the province's de facto official language, which is spoken natively by about 70 percent of the province's population, according to the 2011 census. There is also a French-speaking population concentrated in the northeastern, eastern, and extreme Southern parts of the province, where under the French Language Services Act, provincial government services are required to be available in French if at least 10 percent of a designated area's population report French as their native language. Roughly 4% of Ontarians speak French as their mother tongue, and 11% are bilingual, speaking both English and French, according to the 2011 census. Immigrant languages such as Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Dutch, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Punjabi, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Urdu and Vietnamese are also spoken by a large number of people in the province.

Culture

Songs and slogans

In 1973 the first slogan to appear on licence plates in Ontario was "Keep It Beautiful". This was replaced by "Yours to Discover" in 1982, apparently inspired by a tourism slogan, "Discover Ontario", dating back to 1927. Plates with the French equivalent, "Tant à découvrir", were made available to the public beginning in May 2008. (From 1988 to 1990, "Ontario Incredible" gave "Yours to Discover" a brief respite.)

In 2007, a new song replaced "A Place to Stand" after four decades. "There's No Place Like This" is featured in current television advertising, performed by Ontario artists including Molly Johnson, Brian Byrne, Keshia Chanté, as well as Tomi Swick and Arkells.

Notable residents

Professional sports

The province has 14 professional sports teams in baseball, basketball, hockey, football, rugby, lacrosse and soccer.

Club Sport League City Stadium
Toronto Blue Jays Baseball MLB Toronto Rogers Centre
Toronto Raptors Basketball NBA Toronto Air Canada Centre
Ottawa Senators Hockey NHL Ottawa Canadian Tire Centre
Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey NHL Toronto Air Canada Centre
Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football CFL Hamilton Tim Hortons Field
Ottawa Redblacks Football CFL Ottawa TD Place Stadium
Toronto Argonauts Football CFL Toronto BMO Field
Toronto Wolfpack Rugby L1 Toronto Lamport Stadium
Ottawa Fury Soccer USL Ottawa TD Place Stadium
Toronto FC Soccer MLS Toronto BMO Field
Ottawa Champions Baseball Can-Am Ottawa Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park
Toronto Marlies Hockey AHL Toronto Ricoh Coliseum
Toronto Rock Lacrosse NLL Toronto Air Canada Centre
Toronto Furies Hockey CWHL Toronto MasterCard Centre

Transportation

Transportation routes in Ontario evolved from early waterway travel and First Nations paths followed by European explorers. Ontario has two major east-west routes, both starting from Montreal in the neighbouring province of Quebec. The northerly route, which was a major fur trade route, travels west from Montreal along the Ottawa River, then continues northwestward towards Manitoba. Major cities on or near the route include Ottawa, North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, and Thunder Bay. The southerly route, which was driven by growth in settlements originated by the United Empire Loyalists and later other European immigrants, travels southwest from Montreal along the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie before entering the United States in Michigan. Major cities on or near the route include Kingston, Belleville, Peterborough, Oshawa, Toronto, Mississauga, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, London, Sarnia, and Windsor. This route was also heavily used by immigrants to the Midwestern US particularly in the late 19th century.

Roads

400-Series Highways make up the primary vehicular network in the south of province, and they connect to numerous border crossings with the US, the busiest being the Detroit–Windsor Tunnel and Ambassador Bridge (via Highway 401) and the Blue Water Bridge (via Highway 402). Some of the primary highways along the southern route are Highway 401, Highway 417, and Highway 400, while other provincial highways and regional roads inter-connect the remainder of the province.

Waterways

The Saint Lawrence Seaway, which extends across most of the southern portion of the province and connects to the Atlantic Ocean, is the primary water transportation route for cargo, particularly iron ore and grain. In the past, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River were also a major passenger transportation route, but over the past half century passenger travel has been reduced to ferry services and sightseeing cruises.

Railways

Via Rail operates the inter-regional passenger train service on the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor, along with The Canadian, a transcontinental rail service from Southern Ontario to Vancouver, and the Sudbury–White River train. Additionally, Amtrak rail connects Ontario with key New York cities including Buffalo, Albany, and New York City. Ontario Northland provides rail service to destinations as far north as Moosonee near James Bay, connecting them with the south.

Freight rail is dominated by the founding cross-country Canadian National Railway and CP Rail companies, which during the 1990s sold many short rail lines from their vast network to private companies operating mostly in the south.

Regional commuter rail is limited to the provincially owned GO Transit, and serves a train-bus network spanning the Golden Horseshoe region.

The Toronto Transit Commission operates the province's only subway and streetcar system, one of the busiest in North America. OC Transpo operates, in addition to bus service, Ontario's only light rail transit line, the O-Train in Ottawa.

A light-rail metro called the Confederation Line is under construction in Ottawa. It will have 13 stations on 12.5 km (7.8 mi) and part of it will run under the city's Downtown and feature three underground stations. In addition, the Ion light rail and bus rapid transit system is under construction in the province's Waterloo region.

Ontario Northland freight train crossing the Missinaibi River at Mattice-Val Côté in Northern Ontario
Ontario Northland freight train crossing the Missinaibi River at Mattice-Val Côté in Northern Ontario

Air travel

Important airports in the province include Toronto Pearson International Airport, which is the busiest airport in Canada, handling over 41 million passengers in 2015. Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport and Hamilton's John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. Toronto/Pearson and Ottawa/Macdonald-Cartier form two of the three points in Canada's busiest set of air routes (the third point being Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport).

Most Ontario cities have regional airports, many of which have scheduled commuter flights from Air Canada Jazz or smaller airlines and charter companies — flights from the mid-size cities such as Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins, Windsor, London, and Kingston feed directly into larger airports in Toronto and Ottawa. Bearskin Airlines also runs flights along the northerly east-west route, connecting Ottawa, North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Kitchener and Thunder Bay directly.

Isolated towns and settlements in the northern areas of the province rely partly or entirely on air service for travel, goods, and even ambulance services (MEDIVAC), since much of the far northern area of the province cannot be reached by road or rail.

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