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ONTARIO, CANADA

Places which we visited:

Toronto

Ottawa

Ontario was our fist destination in Canada and with Quebec the only two states that we visited, at least in this tryp, June 2009.

Ontario is a province located in east-central Canada, the largest by population and second largest, after Quebec, in total area. Ontario is bordered by the provinces of Manitoba to the west and Quebec to the east, and the U.S. states (from west to east) of Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and New York to the south and east. Most of Ontario's borders with the United States are natural, starting at the Lake of the Woods and continuing through four of the Great Lakes: Superior, Huron , Erie, and Ontario, then along the Saint Lawrence River near Cornwall. Ontario is the only Canadian province that borders the Great Lakes. For analytical purposes Ontario is often broken into two regions, Northern Ontario, and Southern Ontario.

The capital of Ontario is Toronto, Canada's most populous city and metropolitan area. Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is located in Ontario as well. The 2006 Census counted 12,960,282 residents in Ontario, which accounted for 38.5% of the national population.

The province takes its name from Lake Ontario, which is thought to be derived from Ontarí:io, a Huron (Wyandot) word meaning "great lake", or possibly skanadario which means "beautiful water" in Iroquoian. Along with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec, Ontario is one of the four original provinces of Canada when the federal nation was created July 1, 1867, when the British North America Act, 1867 (or 'BNA') came into force. Upon achievement of full independence from the United Kingdom in 1982, the BNA was re-christened the Constitution Act, 1867.

Ontario is Canada's leading manufacturing province accounting for 52% of the total national manufacturing shipments in 2004. Ontario's largest trading partner is the American State of Michigan.

Before the arrival of the Europeans, the region was inhabited both by Algonquian in the western portions and Iroquois and Wyandot (Huron) tribes more in the east. 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, but 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.

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. From 1783 to 1796, the Kingdom of Great Britain granted United Empire Loyalists leaving the United States following the American Revolution 200 acres of land and other items with which to rebuild their lives. This measure substantially increased the population of Canada west of the St. Lawrence-Ottawa River confluence 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.

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 only for a few short years. Many newly arrived immigrants and others moved west along the railroad 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 like 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 would go on to become 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". It 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 distil and retain their own personal supply, and liquor producers could continue distillation and export for sale, which allowed this already sizable industry to strengthen further and Ontario became a hotbed for the illegal smuggling of liquor 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 by 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, and the Greater Toronto Area in particular, have been the recipients of most immigration to Canada, largely immigrants from war-torn Europe in the 1950s and 1960s and after changes in federal immigration law, a massive influx of non-Europeans since the 1970s. From a largely ethnically British province, Ontario has rapidly become very culturally 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. Depressed economic conditions in the Maritime Provinces have also resulted in de-population of those provinces in the 20th century, with heavy migration into Ontario.

Ontario has no official language, but English is considered the de facto language. Numerous French language services are available under the French Language Services Act of 1990 in designated areas where sizable francophone populations exist.


June 2009

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