from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
coat of arms flag
Ontario Coat of Arms
( Details )
Flag of Ontario
( Details )
Motto : Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet
"She began loyal and will remain loyal"
Dänemark Island Frankreich Alaska Vereinigte Staaten Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick Neufundland und Labrador Québec Ontario Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia Nunavut Nordwest-Territorien Yukonmap
About this picture
Basic data
Official language English
Capital Toronto
Biggest town Toronto
surface 1,076,395 km² (4.)
Population (2019) 14,659,616
Population density 14.8 inhabitants / km²
GDP in CAD (2006) Total: 556.3 billion (1st)
Per capita: 43,847 (6th)
Time zone UTC −4 to −5
ISO 3166-2 CA-ON
Postal abbreviation ON
Website www.ontario.ca
Joined Confederation July 1, 1867
Lieutenant governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell
prime minister Doug Ford ( Conservative )
Sit in the lower house 121
Seat in the Senate 24

Ontario (English pronunciation [ ɒnˈtʰɛə̯ɹioʊ̯ ]) is a province in southeastern Canada . It is by far the most populous and after Québec the second largest province in the country in terms of area ( Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are larger, but belong to the territories). Ontario borders the provinces of Manitoba in the west and Québec in the east, as well as five US states in the south.

The capital of Ontario and the largest city in the country is Toronto . Ottawa , the capital of Canada, is located in the east on the border with Québec. Ottawa belongs to Ontario, in contrast to many other large states there is no separate capital district . The 2006 census counted 12,160,282 inhabitants, which is 38.5% of the population of Canada.


The province is bordered to the north by Hudson Bay and James Bay , to the east by Québec , to the south by the American states of Minnesota , Michigan , Ohio , Pennsylvania and New York and to the west by the province of Manitoba . Ontario's southern border with the United States is made up almost entirely of lakes and rivers, starting with the Lake of the Woods . It continues on four of the five Great Lakes ( Lake Superior , Lake Huron , Lake Erie and Lake Ontario ) and finally on the Saint Lawrence River near Cornwall . The Ottawa River forms part of the border with Québec.

Ontario can be divided into three main regions:

  • The Canadian Shield in the northwest and in the center covers around half of the province's area. For the most part it is hardly fertile, but rich in minerals and at the same time covered with rivers and lakes.
  • The marshy and forested lowlands of Hudson Bay in the northeastern provincial area that are almost uninhabited.
  • The climatically moderate and fertile valley in the south along the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River, where agriculture, industry and settlements are concentrated. Around 75% of the population of Ontario and a quarter of the Canadian population live in the region at the western end of Lake Ontario ; also known as the Golden Horseshoe .
Niagara Falls

Despite the lack of mountains, a large part of the province is criss-crossed by numerous ranges of hills, in particular the moraines in the Canadian Shield and the Niagara layer in the south. The highest point in the province is the 693 meter high Ishpatina Ridge near Temagami . Ontario is known for its abundance of water. There are around 250,000 lakes and rivers with a total length of more than 100,000 kilometers in the province. The best known geographic object is the Niagara Falls . The St. Lawrence Seaway allows shipping from the Atlantic Ocean to Thunder Bay in northwestern Ontario.

There are five national parks in Ontario : Bruce Peninsula National Park on the Bruce Peninsula on Lake Huron, Georgian Bay Islands National Park on Georgian Bay of Lake Huron, Point Pelee National Park on a headland in Lake Erie (with the southernmost Point of Mainland Canada), Pukaskwa National Park north of Lake Superior, and Thousand Islands National Park in the Thousand Islands region .


Sandbanks Provincial Park on Lake Ontario

Ontario lies in three main climate regions. Most of the south-east and the southern part of the Golden Horseshoe have a humid, temperate and continental climate. This region has hot humid summers and cold winters. Especially in autumn and winter, the temperatures are moderated by the water surface of the Great Lakes. This results in a longer growth phase than in areas at the same latitude that are in the center of the continent. The annual rainfall ranges from 750 mm to 1000 mm and is relatively evenly distributed, with a peak in summer.

The regions further north of southern Ontario and facing the wind currents, as well as central and eastern Ontario and the southern regions of northern Ontario have a harsh, humid continental climate. The summers here are short and warm to hot, with cold and longer winters and a shorter growth phase. The southern part of this region lies on the windward side of the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Huron.

The northernmost regions of Ontario, mainly north of the 50th parallel, have a sub-polar climate, with long, very cold winters and short warm summers. In summer it can get warm in the very north, but the amount of precipitation is significantly lower than in the south. As there are no mountain ranges blocking the Arctic air masses, winter temperatures can drop below −40 ° C. Often the ground is covered with snow from October to May.


See also: Administrative divisions of Ontario , List of municipalities in Ontario

The administrative structure of Ontario is diverse. There are 445 parishes that are structured in four different ways. Single-stage communities (single-tier municipalities) are governed by a single municipal government. They are not under a county or regional administration, nor do they have any other units under them. Regional municipalities are administrative areas that are structured similar to a county, but have more competencies. Counties (only in southern Ontario) are administrative districts that fulfill very few tasks, as these are performed by the independent communities within the district. Districts (districts) are areas in the sparsely populated regions Nordontarios in which the provincial government takes over most administrative tasks.

Administrative division of Ontario
Single-tier communities Brant , Brantford , Chatham-Kent , Greater Sudbury , Haldimand , Hamilton , Kawartha Lakes , Norfolk , Ottawa , Prince Edward , Toronto
Regional municipalities Durham , Halton , Muskoka , Niagara , Oxford , Peel , Waterloo , York
Counties Bruce , Dufferin , Elgin , Essex , Frontenac , Gray , Haliburton , Hastings , Huron , Lambton , Lanark , Leeds and Grenville , Lennox and Addington , Middlesex , Northumberland , Perth , Peterborough , Prescott and Russell , Renfrew , Simcoe , Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry , Wellington
Districts Algoma , Cochrane , Kenora , Manitoulin , Nipissing , Parry Sound , Rainy River , Sudbury , Thunder Bay , Timiskaming


Main articles: Ontario history and First Nations history

Early history

The name Ontario is an Iroquois word and means "beautiful lake" or "beautiful water". Before the Europeans reached the region, Algonquin ( Anishinabe , Cree and Algonquin ) and Iroquois tribes ( Iroquois , Wyandot ) inhabited the country.

Europeans and Indians, British-French rivalry

Henry Hudson

The French explorer Étienne Brûlé explored part of the area between 1610 and 1612. The English explorer Henry Hudson sailed in 1611 to Hudson Bay, which was later named after him, and took possession of the bay for England. Samuel de Champlain reached Lake Huron in 1615 . At that time, French missionaries began setting up small outposts along the Great Lakes. The Iroquois, who had entered into an alliance with the English, endangered these French settlements.

The English or British established trading posts on Hudson Bay in the late 17th century and sought supremacy in Ontario. The Peace of Paris of 1763, which ended the Seven Years War in Europe and the North American secondary theater , led to almost all of New France falling to the British.

British colonial rule

In 1774, the Quebec Act made the area part of the Province of Québec .

From 1783 to 1796 the British government granted the escaped American loyalists 200 acres (0.8 km²) each to enable them to rebuild an existence. As a result of this measure, the population west of the Ottawa River increased significantly, so that the province of Québec was divided up with the Constitutional Act in 1791 : the mostly English-speaking Upper Canada west of the river, the mostly French-speaking Lower Canada east of it.

American troops crossed the Niagara River and the Detroit River in the British-American War (1812-1814) and invaded Upper Canada. However, they were stopped and repulsed by British soldiers, Canadian militia and First Nations warriors . The Americans then took control of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario . They occupied York (later Toronto ), looted the city and set the parliament building on fire, but were soon forced to withdraw.

After the end of the war, the population continued to grow. A network of aristocratic families, the so-called Family Compact , dominated economic and political events. Against this supremacy there was increasing resistance and republican movements arose. In 1837 two uprisings broke out, both aimed at the introduction of self-government, the Lower Canada Rebellion led by Louis-Joseph Papineau and the Upper Canada Rebellion led by William Lyon Mackenzie (see also 1837 Rebellions ).

Both riots were quickly put down, but the British government sent Lord Durham to investigate the causes of the disturbances. He proposed the introduction of self-government and the unification of Upper and Lower Canada in order to gradually assimilate the French Canadians (which ultimately did not succeed). With the Act of Union 1840 , the two colonies were united to form the Province of Canada . The right to self-government was granted in 1848.

An insurmountable political stalemate between English- and French-speaking MPs as well as the fear of American aggression during the war of secession were decisive in the fact that the leading politicians in British North America agreed in several conferences to unite the various British colonies. With the establishment of the Canadian Confederation on July 1, 1867, the province of Canada was divided along the old borders into Québec and Ontario.

The emerging Canada, from 1867

Oliver Mowat

Oliver Mowat , the provincial prime minister from 1872 to 1896, weakened the federal government's power over provincial affairs, usually through well-worded appeals to the Justice Commission of the British Privy Council . Mowat achieved a far greater decentralization of the country and power of the provinces than it had ever been intended by John Macdonald . He expanded the education system, reorganized the administrative structure and secured for Ontario those areas in the northwest that had not historically been part of Upper Canada (north of Lake Superior and west of Hudson Bay ).

During Mowat's tenure, Ontario became the country's economic center. The exploitation of mineral raw materials was intensified at the end of the 19th century, which led to the establishment of numerous mining cities in the north, such as B. Sudbury . The province had numerous hydropower plants built and created the state Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario , later Ontario Hydro . The availability of cheap electrical energy further facilitated the development of the industry.

In July 1912, the Conservative government of James Whitney issued the controversial Regulations 17 , which severely restricted the French-speaking minority teaching in French . This decree met with bitter resistance from the French Canadians; the journalist Henri Bourassa reviled the government as “the Prussians of Ontario”, an allusion to the Franco-German enmity that led to the First World War. Regulation 17 could never be fully implemented and was finally largely repealed in 1927; Francophone schools have only been allowed again since 1968.

Under the influence of the United States, the government of William Howard Hearst introduced alcohol prohibition in 1916 . However, private individuals could distil schnapps for their own use and companies were allowed to continue to produce for export. This led to a heavy smuggling of liquor into the USA, where alcohol was completely banned. Prohibition was lifted in 1927, but the provincial government regulated the production and sale of alcohol to a significant extent. To this day, high-proof alcoholic beverages are only allowed to be sold in stores run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario .

Since the Second World War: economic growth and language conflicts

The period after World War II was marked by extraordinary growth. Ontario, and the greater Toronto area in particular , attracted by far the largest number of immigrants. While these were mainly Europeans in the 1950s and 1960s, after adjustments to the immigration laws, people from other continents, especially Asia, followed . Ontario transformed from a largely British province into one of the most ethnically diverse regions in North America.

The nationalist movement in Québec, particularly after the Parti Québécois' election victory in 1976, led to the migration of businesses and English-speaking Canadians from Québec to Ontario. As a result, among other things, Toronto eventually overtook Montreal as Canada's largest city and economic center. Furthermore, difficult economic conditions in the maritime provinces there led to a population decline and to a strong internal migration to Ontario.


Population development
year Residents year Residents
1851 952.004 1931 3,431,683
1861 1,396,091 1941 3,787,655
1871 1,620,851 1951 4,597,542
1881 1,926,922 1961 6.236.092
1891 2,114,321 1971 7,703,105
1901 2,182,947 1981 8.625.107
1911 2,527,292 1991 10,084,885
1921 2,933,662 2001 11.410.046

In the 2006 census, 12,160,282 inhabitants were determined, which corresponds to an increase of 6.6% compared to 2001. This puts Ontario above the national average of 5.4%. The proportion of Ontario in the total population of Canada is 38.5%.

In the 2001 census, 29.7% of the population identified themselves as "Canadians". 24.0% were of English , 16.3% Scottish , 15.6% Irish , 10.9% French , 8.6% German , 6.9% Italian and 4.6% Chinese (multiple answers possible). The proportion of indigenous people is low (2.2% First Nations , 0.5% Métis ).

The main language is English ; about 5% of the population belong to the French Ontarians minority , the largest French-speaking community in Canada outside of Québec. The provincial government must offer services in French in individual districts (at least 5,000 individuals or 10% of the population).

34.9% of the population are Protestant , 34.7% Roman Catholic . 2.3% are Christian Orthodox and 2.7% are undefined Christians; z. B. Ontario is the center of the Amish in Canada. 3.1% profess Islam , 1.9% Hinduism and 4.1% other religions. 16.3% did not provide any information.

Largest cities by population

rank city 2011 2006 2001
1. Toronto 2,615,061 2,503,281 2,481,494
2. Ottawa 883.391 812.129 774.072
3. Mississauga 713.443 668,549 612.925
4th Brampton 523.911 433,806 325,428
5. Hamilton 519.949 504,559 490.268
6th London 366.151 352.395 336,539
7th Markham 301,709 261,573 208,615
8th. Vaughan 288,301 238,866 182.022
9. Kitchener 219.153 204,668 190.399
10. Windsor 210.891 216.473 208.402
rank city 2011 2006 2001
11. Oakville 182,520 165.613 144,738
12. Richmond Hill 185,541 162,704 132.030
13. Burlington 175,779 164.415 150,836
14th Greater Sudbury 160.274 157.857 155.219
15th Oshawa 149,607 141,590 139.051
16. Barrie 135.711 128,430 103.710
17th St. Catharines 131,400 131,989 129,170
18th Cambridge 126,748 120,371 110,372
19th Kingston 123.363 117.207 114.195
20th Guelph 121,688 114,943 106.170


The Ontario political system is based on the Westminster system , with a unicameral parliament, the legislative assembly . This consists of 107 members who are elected in just as many constituencies using the majority voting system. Since 2004 the length of the legislative period has been limited to four years. Previously, on the advice of the Prime Minister , the lieutenant governor was able to dissolve parliament prematurely within a certain timeframe and call new elections, in line with British parliamentary tradition. Acting Prime Minister is Doug Ford and Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell .

Political events in Ontario are determined by three parties. Over the past few decades, both the Ontario Liberal Liberal Party , the Conservative Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and the Social Democratic Ontario New Democratic Party have ruled for a period of time.

Ontario currently has 106 seats in the House of Commons and 24 seats in the Senate under the Canadian Constitution . The province is considered a federal stronghold of the Liberal Party of Canada . With Ontario having the largest number of seats up for grabs, the province's support is vital for any party hoping to win the election.


The CN Tower in Toronto is the third tallest television tower in the world

Once the dominant industry, agriculture today only employs a small percentage of the workforce. Cattle breeding , wheat cultivation and dairy farming are predominant . Fruit, grape and vegetable cultivation is concentrated on the Niagara Peninsula and along Lake Erie . Massey Ferguson , once the world's premier manufacturer of agricultural machinery, was founded in Ontario.

Ontario's rivers create great potential for generating electricity from hydropower . Since the privatization of the state company Ontario Hydro in 1999, Ontario Power Generation has held an 85% share of the province's electricity production. 41% of the energy is nuclear, 30% comes from hydropower and 29% from fossil fuels.

In order to promote the political goal of an energy transition towards renewable energies, Ontario introduced the Green Energy Act in 2009 , a direct copy of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act with feed-in tariffs . In 2014, Ontario withdrew from coal- fired power generation when the last coal-fired power plant in Thunder Bay was converted to biomass. In 2003 coal-fired power plants with a total output of 7,500 megawatts were still on the grid, which corresponded to a quarter of the total capacity for power generation in Ontario. In 2003 the process of phasing out coal was also initiated. Ontario is the first major administrative entity in the world to successfully implement such a plan. The potential for saving energy is not being exploited to a greater extent; the per capita consumption of energy is significantly higher in Ontario than in neighboring New York State .

The wealth of natural resources, well-developed transport routes to the USA and the access for container ships to the sea via the Great Lakes have led to the dominant position of the industry in Ontario. This is especially true of the Golden Horseshoe , the most industrialized region of Canada. Important sectors are the automotive industry, iron and steel processing, food processing, the electrical industry, the machine industry, the chemical industry and the paper industry. In 2004 Ontario overtook neighboring Michigan with 2.696 million automobiles produced.

Toronto is the center of Canada's financial and banking system, while in cities such as Markham , Waterloo and Ottawa , the information technology plays a significant role. Hamilton is Canada's steel production center and Sarnia is a petrochemical center . The economy in the north of the province is based on mining and forestry. Tourism is of great importance along the lakes .

Another important part of the economy is the film production industry. In addition to Vancouver , the second largest film production location in Canada is located in Toronto - concentrated in two large film studios, in which both Canadian and US American films, TV feature films, TV series and TV shows are produced. Thanks to numerous other film studios, which are not only spread across the rest of Ontario, but also other provinces, Canada has become the third largest film production location in North America after Los Angeles and New York City and is therefore sometimes referred to as " Hollywood North ".

Education and Research


In Canada, the provinces are responsible for school education themselves. Elementary and secondary schools up to grade 12 (high schools) in Ontario are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education (EDU). The provincial schools usually teach English as a first language and French as a second language. In the 2007/2008 school year, a total of 1,371,485 school-age children and young people were enrolled in the provincial schools. Overall, the province spent around C $ 15.4 billion on public schools.


The province's colleges and universities are under the supervision of the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). There are 22 state universities, 24 colleges, 17 privately funded church universities and over 500 private career colleges in the province. The University of Toronto is one of the largest and better-known universities in Canada with around 73,000 students and has several campuses in Toronto and in suburbs such as Mississauga . The second largest university is York University with around 52,290 students, followed by the University of Ottawa with around 38,700 students.


Highway 401 near Toronto

There are two historically grown traffic corridors, both of which have their starting point in Montreal . The north runs along the Ottawa River and then on to Manitoba . Cities like Ottawa , North Bay , Sudbury , Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay . Of far greater importance is the southern corridor along the Saint Lawrence River , Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to Michigan . Major cities on this route are Kingston , Oshawa , Toronto , Mississauga , Kitchener , Waterloo , London , Sarnia and Windsor . Most of Ontario's major transportation routes follow one of these corridors.

Motorways mostly run in the southern corridor. They connect the largest cities and lead to the most important border crossings such as the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel , the Ambassador Bridge and the Blue Water Bridge . The main road link is Highway 401 , which is the busiest highway in the world. The Highway 417 forms part of the Trans-Canada Highway , while Highway 400 leading to the northern Ontario.

The St. Lawrence Seaway along the southern provincial border is the main route for inland shipping, especially for bulk cargo such as iron ore and wheat. The Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River were once important routes for the transportation of people.

A VIA Rail train in London

VIA Rail operates interregional rail passenger transport along the Québec-Windsor Corridor . Amtrak also offers passenger trains to Buffalo , Albany and New York City . Ontario Northland operates passenger and rail freight services to the north of the province. Rail freight transport is dominated by the Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway companies . GO Transit operates local rail passenger transport in the greater Toronto area and the Golden Horseshoe . The Toronto Transit Commission operates the only subway and tram networks in the province. In Ottawa, the O-Train is a pilot project for a light rail network.

The Toronto Pearson International Airport , with over 30 million passengers a year, the busiest airport in the province and Canada. Other major airports are Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport and Toronto's second airport, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport . Most of Ontario's cities have regional airports, most of which are served by smaller airlines. Isolated settlements in the north are dependent on air traffic as they are often not connected to the road or rail network.

Web links

Wiktionary: Ontario  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Ontario  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Ontario  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Province of Ontario , Statistics Canada (accessed January 10, 2020)
  2. ^ Census Profile, 2016 Census, Ontario
  3. ^ Population of the provinces and territories ( Memento of June 10, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) - Statistics Canada
  4. ^ Area of ​​the provinces and territories ( Memento of February 10, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) - Statistics Canada
  5. Population of metropolitan areas ( Memento of July 24, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) - Statistics Canada
  6. a b 2006 Census - Statistics Canada
  7. Population development of Ontario ( Memento of November 13, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) - Statistics Canada
  8. Ethnic composition of the population 2001 ( Memento of December 31, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) - Statistics Canada
  9. La communauté francophone ( Memento of October 9, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) - Office des affaires francofones
  10. Proportion of denominations and religions ( Memento of December 24, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) - Statistics Canada
  11. ^ Province of Ontario, press release, Creating Cleaner Air in Ontario - Province Has Eliminated Coal-Fired Generation , April 15, 2014
  12. ^ Yale University, How Ontario Is Putting an End To Coal-Burning Power Plants , April 2, 2013

Coordinates: 50 ° 0 ′  N , 86 ° 0 ′  W