In the last Ice Age-era, Ontario was home to wooly mammoths around 10,000 B.C. and roaming the territory alongside them were Ontario’s native peoples, the Algonquin and the Iroquois.
Great Britain, as well as France, began exploring and making attempts to create settlements in the area starting in the 1600s. The initial attempts at settling were thwarted by the revolting Iroquois, especially against the French colonies in the area.
It wouldn’t be until 1668 that the first permanent settlement, Sault Ste Marie established itself.
Then in the mid-1700s, 1763, to be exact, the area was caught up in the middle of warring Great Britain, France, and the newly established America.
In 1763 Great Britain won the Seven Year’s War against the French. However, shortly after the America Revolution began in 1776, many of those still loyal to the British Empire fled to the northern territory that is now Ontario.
It wasn’t until 1791 until the territory was finally completely defined, though, in the beginning, it was known as Upper Canada and Lower Canada – the upper area being predominantly English speaking, now Ontario, and the lower area being the French-speaking, now Quebec.
In the lull in conflict, Ontario’s most significant cities established, and the population increased. In the War of 1812, America then attempted to seize Upper Canada but failed.
It wouldn’t be until 1837 that Upper Canada and Lower Canada rejoined as one territory, and it would take even longer for the country to become completely unified. Now known as Canada East and Canada West, the region remained in a political deadlock for years.
Eventually, in 1867, the new nation of Canada was established, with the colonies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, joining in. These would be the first four provinces of Canada: Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
Ontario has four distinct geographical regions – The Canadian Shield, Great Lakes Lowlands, The Hudson Bay Lowlands, and St. Lawrence Lowlands.
The largest of the four regions is the Canadian Shield, which covers a little more than sixty-six percent of the province’s lands mass, or roughly two thirds.
The Canadian Shield region is characterized by its low and rounded hills, its flat plateaus, and the sprawling network of rivers and lakes that crisscross through the landscape as well as forest.
Significant rivers, such as the Abitibi, Albany, French, Ottawa, and Niagara, are located in this region. The largest lakes in Ontario are also mostly found in the Canadian Shield, which, to name a few, are Nipigon, Nipissing, Simcoe, Rainy, Big Trout, and Lake of the Woods.
To the north, the hilly terrain flattens out to become the Hudson Bay Lowlands. The Hudson Bay Lowlands are distinct from the Canadian Shield as the area is something of a marsh, characterized by swampy forest as well as bogs. The far north is home to boreal forest lands.
To the south of the Canadian Shield and along the border of the United States sit, The St. Lawrence Lowlands, which has acres and acres of deciduous forest.
Though perhaps most noteworthy is that Ontario houses the mighty and famous Niagara Falls, which sits just on the border of the state of New York. Ontario also houses the larger Horseshoe Falls as well as, the smaller American falls, as well.
Ontario, as a general whole, is classified as having a humid continental climate. But because of the nature of prevailing winds and the latitudes Ontario sits on, it has three distinct climatic regions.
Southern Ontario has a climate that is primarily influenced by the surrounding Great Lakes.
The lakes act as heat sinks and in the fall and winter, emit that heat, making for milder winters at lower latitudes in some areas of Ontario.
Southern Ontario also experiences a good amount of rainfall throughout the year, and summers can be hot to mild. Though winters are typically cold, snow falls in abundance thanks to the influence of the Great Lakes.
East and Central Ontario are cooler when compared to the south. The region also experiences mild to hot summers, plentiful rainfall and snow, though the main difference is that winters in this region tend to be colder and last longer.
In Northeast Ontario, because of the cold waters of the Hudson Bay, forcing temperatures down in the summer months, and as a result of location, the weather is cooler in general, with much-extended winters and snow on the ground most of the year.
In the most northern reaches of Ontario, the climate is sub-arctic. In these regions, summers are short, and winter is long and bitterly cold.
Because of the overall flatness of the land, temperatures of negative forty degrees Celsius are typical. What precipitation doesn’t fall to the ground as snow, manifests in thunderstorms and short showers during the warmer months.
Canada also experiences severe thunderstorms in some regions, mostly during the summer months as well as tornadoes. This is a result of the winds and the influence of the lakes on air temperatures and humidity.
The tornadoes, however, are not comparable to those found in America’s “Death Valley,” they very rarely escalate to be damaging.
Ontario, as a province, is a significant player in NAFTA (North American Free Trade Area). According to the 2011 stats, Ontario-US trade generated 716 million Canadian dollars.
In Canada itself, Ontario houses the nation’s largest economy, generating over a third of Canada’s GDP, with Quebec in second. The economy is diverse and based on a mix of industries.
Making up the most substantial portion of the economy were the service industries, at about 77%. Businesses that fall into this category are financial services, professional, technical, or scientific services, as well as the arts.
Manufacturing, however, is another critical player in the economy.
Ontario is the leading manufacturing region in Canada, with the industry making a little less than half of all the entire manufacturing GDP. The main exports are vehicles and vehicle parts, mostly destined for the United States.
Other industries in Ontario include agriculture, forestry, and mining.
Toronto, the provincial capital of Ontario, is the most populated city in Canada, with 2.75 million people calling the city home.
The highest point in Ontario is the Ishpatina Ridge at 693 meters or 2,274 feet above sea level, located in Temagami in Northeastern Ontario.
Ontario is home to approximately 250,000 lakes, has over 100,000 kilometers or 62,000 miles of river, and contains a fifth of the world’s fresh water supply.
|Niagara Falls||North Bay||North York||Oakville||Orangeville|
|Peterborough||Pickering||Picton||Quinte West||Richmond Hill|
|Sarnia||Sault Ste. Marie||Scarborough||Simcoe||St. Catharines|
|St. Thomas||Stratford||Sudbury||Tecumseh||Thunder Bay|