Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet
(Loyal she began, loyal she remains)


Ontario is Canada's second largest province and has the largest population in the country. It is home to Canada's largest city and a wide variety of geographic and cultural elements. Ontario is situated east of Manitoba and west of Québec, and is bordered by the American states of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan. The capital of Ontario is Toronto, its largest and most populous city. The Canadian capital of Ottawa is also in Ontario, and is situated near the Ontario-Québec border.


European explorers are believed to have been in Ontario as early as 1610. Until this point, the area was inhabited solely by Ojibwa, Cree, Algonquin, Iroquois and Huron tribes. Explorers from Britain and France claimed various parts of the area for their respective countries. Some aboriginal tribes created alliances with certain explorer nations; the Iroquois, for instance, supported the British explorers. This made settlement harder for the French, and the British were able to settle with greater ease. Hudson's Bay became a trading hotspot for the British. Military conflict between the French and the Iroquois also led to several of the French settlements being handed over to the British.

The area's English 'community' also increased during the 18th century, when United Empire Loyalists fled the newly created United States of America. The British government also offered any Loyalist leaving the U.S. land and supplies in order to sweeten the deal (and to encourage people to remain in a British colony). This led to a large increase in the area's population. Until this point, New France's population had been much higher than that of this area. The 'equalization' in population caused the Constitutional Act of 1791 to divide the area into two Canadas. Upper Canada was designated as the area west of the Ottawa River. Lower Canada was east of it.

Upper Canada was invaded by Americans during the War of 1812. They managed to overtake two of the Great Lakes and destroyed York (which is today's Toronto) when they couldn't occupy it. The war caused an influx of immigration to Upper Canada, and the new Upper Canadians were unimpressed with the area's methods of government. Upper Canada was ruled, after all, by the Family Compact, a small group of wealthy conservatives. The people wanted a more democratic form of government; the Rebellion of 1837, led by William Lyon Mackenzie, did not not succeed initially but eventually caused the British government to allow for a new kind of government for Upper Canada.

Upper Canada contained most of the anglophone population, and the francophone population was centralized in Lower Canada. They were merged to form the Province of Canada in 1841, and then, with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, entered Canadian Confederation in 1867. The province was named after Lake Ontario, which is Iroquois for "beautiful water". Ontario remains to this day a largely anglophone province, although certain parts (especially in the north) are almost exclusively French speaking. Ottawa and the surrounding areas are also generally bilingual. Toronto became Ontario's capital at the time of Confederation, and as the 19th century ended (and throughout the 20th century), Ontario became and remained Canada's economic center.


Ontario is, as aforementioned, Canada's second largest province (with less land area than Québec) and has its largest population. Ontario has a land area of 1 076 395 km², 14.7% of which is freshwater. The most recent population estimate places Ontario's population at roughly 11 900 000 people (2001). It is bordered by four Great Lakes: Ontario, Huron, Erie and Superior. The most populated part of Ontario is called the Golden Horseshoe, so named for its shape around Lake Ontario. Among its cities are Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, and Brampton. Other large cities include Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Kingston, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, London, and Kitchener.

Ontario does not extend as far north as several of Canada's other provinces; it does, however, consist of three different geographical regions. The far north, northwestern and central parts of Ontario are part of the Canadian Shield, which, while not having fertile soil, produces minerals. Northeastern Ontario is part of the Hudson Bay Lowlands, and consist mainly of forests and swamps. Southern Ontario is part of the Great-Lakes-Saint Lawrence Valley, and is the most adapted for such a heavy population. Southern Ontario also has the most fertile soil, and as such much of Ontario's agriculture takes place here. This region is home to 90% of Ontario's population. The southernmost part of Canada is also in Ontario.

Ontario's population density in 2001 was 12.94 people per km². As it is situated in eastern-central Canada, its time zones are Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5) and Central Standard Time (GMT -6).

The province has been divided into 23 counties, six regional municipalities, 11 single-tier municipalities and 11 districts.


Ontario's provincial government is based on the British parliamentary system. There are 103 seats in its provincial legislature; 53 seats are required for a majority government. Some provinces refer to the elected members as Members of the Legislative Assembly or MLAs, however in Ontario they are called Members of Provincial Parliament or MPPs. The Liberal Party of Ontario unseated the Progressive Conservative Party in a general election in fall 2003, and won a majority government. They currently occupy 72 of the 103 seats. The provincial government operates using a first-past-the-post-electoral system, much like its federal counterpart, though citizens groups have been pressuring the government to change the electoral system to proportional representation. The provincial senate has 24 seats.

The province, like the federal political scene, has three main political parties: the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, and the New Democratic Party. The Liberals form the current government after removing the Tories, who had been in power for eight years prior to this, from office. Many of the provinces ridings also have candidates from other parties including the Green Party, the Communist Party, and the Family Coalition. The Tories currently lead the official opposition with the second-highest number of seats. The New Democratic Party temporarily lost its official party status after being knocked from nine seats to seven, but regained it after winning a by-election.

The provincial government recently introduced legislation that would no longer allow the premier to call an election at his or her leisure; elections will take place on the first Monday in October from now on.

There are also 103 federal ridings (and thus 103 Ontario seats in the Canadian House of Commons

Symbols, etc.

Ontario's flag has a red background with the Union Jack in its top left corner. To its right is the province's crest, which is a green shield with three yellow maple leafs. The cross of St. George is on top of the shield. This crest also appears in the province's coat of arms, where it is surrounded to its left and right by moose and is topped by a small beaver. The province's motto, Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet is written on a scroll below the crest. The motto refers to Ontario's past support of British loyalists.

Premiers of Ontario

  1. John Sandfield Macdonald 1867-1871 (L-C)
  2. Edward Blake 1871-1872 (L)
  3. Sir Oliver Mowat 1872-1896 (L)
  4. Arthur S. Hardy 1896-1899 (L)
  5. Sir George William Ross 1899-1905 (L)
  6. Sir James P. Whitney 1905-1914 (C)
  7. Sir William Hearst 1914-1919 (C)
  8. Ernest C. Drury 1919-1923 (F-L)
  9. George Howard Ferguson 1923-1930 (C)
  10. George Stewart Henry 1930-1934 (C)
  11. Mitchell Hepburn 1934-1942 (L)
  12. Gordon Daniel Conant 1942-1943 (L)
  13. Harry Nixon 1943-1943 (L)
  14. George Drew 1943-1948 (PC)
  15. Thomas Kennedy 1948-1949 (PC)
  16. Leslie Frost 1949-1961 (C)
  17. John Robarts 1961-1971 (C)
  18. William (Bill) Davis 1971-1985 (PC)
  19. Frank Miller 1985-1985 (PC)
  20. David Peterson 1985-1990 (L)
  21. Bob Rae 1990-1995 (NDP)
  22. Mike Harris 1995-2002 (PC)
  23. Ernie Eves 2002-2003 (PC)
  24. Dalton McGuinty 2003 - (L)

Ontario http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontario 17 June 2004
Government of Ontario, Canada - Home Page http://www.gov.on.ca/MBS/english/ 17 June 2004
Ontario GenWeb: Ontario History http://www.rootsweb.com/~canon/ontbegin.html 17 June 2004
My history notes from grades seven and eight. Yes, I still have those.

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