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Province of Ontario

Basic information about Ontario:

Population: 11,000,000 (1997). This represents over one-third of Canada's total population. The vast majority of Ontarians reside in the southern regions of the province, with nearly half of Ontario's population in the Toronto Meteropolitan region (which nearly always dominates the agenda for all of Ontario).

Capital: Toronto

Location: Ontario is located in the central region of Canada, from the shores of the Great Lakes of North America to Hudson Bay in the north. Ontario borders the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Qubec, as well as the American states of Michigan, New York, Ohio and Minnesota.

Major Cities:The following are the five leading metropolitan regions in Ontario, along with their populations:

Time Zones: Most of Ontario lies in the Eastern time zone, (-0500 GMT), with the exception of the region that borders the Manitoba border, which is in the Central time zone (-0600 GMT)

Area: The province of Ontario has a surface area of 1 100 000 This is an area larger than that of France and Spain combined.

Topography: Ontario's topography varies greatly by region. Venturing south from the shores of Hudson Bay, taiga vegetation gives way to the boreal forests and rugged features of the Canadian shield. Further south, in the Great Lakes-St.Lawrence lowlands, farmland and urban development dominates the landscape.

Climate: Like Ontario's topography, climate in Ontario also varies greatly by region. In the far northern regions, an sub-arctic type climate prevails, with extremely warm winters and cool summers, while in the more southerly regions, winters are cool to cold and summers are warm to hot and humid. Southern cities such as Windsor, Chatham-Kent and London experience a more temperate climate, dominated by cool to mild winters and very hot and humid summers, in which daytime highs in excess of 30 Celsius (87 Farhenheit) are common.

Some interesting tidbits of information about Ontario:

Origin of the name "Ontario":Ontario's name is derived from the Iroquoian native word Skanadario, meaning "Beautiful Waters", which are present almost everywhere in the province (with the possible exception of the heavily polluted cesspools of Hamilton and Sarnia!)

Provincial Flower:The Trillum (It is actually illegal to pick this flower in Ontario!)

Provincial Flag:The provinical flag of Ontario is the Red Ensign, which consists of the British Union Jack on the top left corner, and the provincial coat of arms in the center, set on a red background.

Forests:Extreme Southern Ontario contains the only area of Carolinan forest in Canada, in which many rare plant species can be found. Inventions:In 1876, at Brantford, Ontario, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

Some more detailed information about Ontario:

Political System and Governement:

Like Canada, Ontario's system of governement is based on the British model, that being a parlimentary governement. This system of government is also a representative democracy, meaning that members of the provincial parliament (MPP) are theoretically supposed to represent the concerns of the citizens in the creation of new legislation. In practice, however, this is not necessairly the case, as when the ruling party forms a majority government, the premier can force the members of parliament of his party to vote according to his wishes, or face expulsion from key governmental posts or from the party itself. However, the present Ontario government has taken steps to initate a more direct democratic system in the province, with referenda on key issues. This system is more typical of the type of democracy that is predominant in the United States. Although there is no senate in the Ontario governmental system, there is a lieutenant-governor. Like her federal counterpart the governor-general, the lieutenant governor performs the mostly ceremonial task of "representing the Queen of England" in Ontario's parliament.

Ontario has three major political parties, which are as follows, along with their postition on the political spectrum:

Currently, the Progressive Conservative Party forms the governement in Ontario, while the Liberal Party of Ontario forms the Official Opposition.

Currently, the Premier of Ontario and the leader of the PC party is Mike Harris, while the leader of the Official Opposition as well as the Ontario Liberals is Dalton Mc'Guinty.

Ontario's History:

Like the rest of Canada, aboriginal peoples including the Algonqian, Huron and Five Nations (Iroquois) tribes were the first to inhabit what is now Ontario. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Iroquois people of Southern Ontario developed a primitive form of governement and law after which the United States and the U.S constitution is modelled.

The early seventeenth century saw the arrival of European explorers to the region, particularly French missionaries and fur traders. Missions were set up among the Hurons, yet they were destroyed by the Iroquois in 1649 during their 1649 campaign of anhillation and dispersal against the Hurons. Native peoples were instrumental in ensuring the success of the European exploration of what is now Ontario, as they taught the newcomers essential skills for surviving in the new land.

From the time of the British conquest of New France in 1763 to the aftermath of the American revolution in the 1780's, Ontario was a part of Qubec, and was largely left to the original native owners. However, after the American revolution, a mass emigration of Loyalists (adherents to the British Crown during the American war of Independence) to what is now Southern Ontario took place. The growing anglo-protestant loyalist population demanded representation apart from the largely franco-catholic population of old New France (Quebec). Thus, Quebec was divided into two British colonies in 1791, with the largely anglo-protestant Upper Canada being created in the west, in what is now Ontario. After the rebellions of 1837, the two colonies were once again joined into one as the Province of Canada under Lord Elgin's 1841 edict.

After twenty years of union, however, it became clear that the differing interests of the French section of the Province of Canada and the English section of the Province of Canada were irreconciable, and a new political arrangement had to be made. This came about in the 1867 unification of Canada with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in an arrangement known as confederation, in which there would be one federal parliament, along with sepreate parliaments for each province. The Province of Canada was separated into Quebec and Ontario, and thus the province of Canada was founded.

After Confederation in 1867, Ontario's economic base slowly evolved from that of an agrarian economy to a manafacturing based economy by the 1920's. Some key innovations and developments that occurred in Ontario during this transitional period included:

Ontario's manafacturing economy grew in the 1920's, attracting many workers to the province, although it slowed considerably as a result of the Great Depression following the market crash of 1929. Following World War II, both Ontario's population grew considerably through immigration and a high birth rate, which has slowed somewhat since 1970.

Ontaro remains prosperous in terms of its economy to this day, yet it is plagued with problems that many Canadian provinces have faced as a result of the hard realities of the 1990's. In the pursuit of deficit elimination, responsible social service and fisical management, the Ontario government has been forced to enact somewhat unpopular legislation in order to compensate for the fisically irresponsiable spending procedures of the 1970's and 1980's. This has led to confrontations with left-wing union forces that have shut down entire cities and the provincial education system for a period of two weeks. Altogehther, these developments are sure to result in a degree instability in Ontario in the immediate future.

For more information on Ontario, contact:

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Last Updated: May 1st, 1998 by Michael Sullivan.