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Ontario Travel Guide

Ontario is the heart of Canada, easily its richest, most populated, and visited province. One third of the people in Canada, in fact, live in Ontario. This province has the most mineral resources, some of the most fertile farmland in the country, and the longest winter-free season in which to cultivate it. It is also the industrial heartland where half of the country’s goods are manufactured and produced. It has the country’s largest city, Toronto, as well as its capital, Ottawa. It covers some 200,000 square kilometers (70,000 square miles) and has approximately 400,000 freshwater lakes. Ontario, in a sense, has everything.[1]

Ontario is the second largest province, after Quebec, with an area of more than 1,000,000 square kilometers (over 410,000 square miles). Water is everywhere in Ontario, from the St. Lawrence river to the Everywhere you look in Ontario, there’s water, from the St. Lawrence river to the Great Lakes to the thousands of tributaries. About 90% of the population cluster along a narrow strip of land in the south near the border with the United States surrounded by scenic waterways.[2]

Geographically, Ontario is split into a northern and southern region. While the south consists of populated urban centers, the north is a vast wilderness with rich forest and mineral resources.[3]

Ontario’s weather varies immensely from region to region because of its sheer size as a province. The weather is generally continental with January being the coldest and July being the warmest month. Most of southwestern Ontario around the Great Lakes area is moderately humid, with hot and dry summers and cold winters. This region is definitely milder when compared to Northern, Central, and Eastern Ontario; these latter regions possess more severe climates – hotter summers and colder and longer winters.[4]

Ontario became a separate province in 1791. It was originally part of the French colony of New France and then became a British colony after the French were defeated in the Seven Years’ War. In 1791, the Constitutional Act divided the colony into the Loyalist-dominated Upper Canada (Ontario) and the predominantly French-settled Lower Canada (Quebec).[5]

The original capital of Ontario was Niagara-on-the-Lake, but Toronto was selected as a replacement in 1793 and promptly renamed York. In 1813, York was attacked by invading Americans. They burned the city to the ground. The British retaliated by burning the White House a year later. After York was rebuilt, a flood of immigrants from Britain and Europe came, resulting in rapid expansion. York was finally incorporated as a city in 1834 and reverted to its original Indian name of Toronto.[6]

Upper Canada joined the Confederation in 1867 when the British North America Act created Canada. The new province was renamed Ontario, a name derived from the Iroquois word for “high rocks standing near the waters” and “shining waters”, said to refer to Niagara Falls. Ottawa was chosen as the capital of the new confederated Canada. Toronto remained the provincial capital. Since then, the province has grown incredibly. Today, it is the economic and cultural center of Canada.[7]

Ontario’s industrial and commercial prominence in Canada today is due largely to its “chipped-arrow-head-shaped” peninsula extending southwest from Toronto all the way to the point at which it pokes Detroit. This is Canada’s manufacturing and agricultural center. The low-lying area is lapped by three of the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, and Erie), resulting in extremely fertile soil. Toronto also dominates as the commercial and financial center of Canada. The combination of all these industries explains why the province is so prosperous.[8]

Ontario has many major cities and tourist destinations – the most visited being Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Kingston, Thunder Bay, Windsor, Sudbury, Burlington, and the Niagara Falls.

Carroll, Donald. Insider’s Guide Canada. Edison: Hunter Publishing, Inc, 1996. ISBN: 1556507100.
“Ontario.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontario>
Simpkins, Mary Ann. Canada. New York: Prentice Hall Travel, 1994. ISBN: 0671882783.

[1] Carroll, 173
[2] Simpkins, 125
[3] Id.
[4] Ontario
[5] Carroll, 179
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id.

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