November 28, 2012 6:24 am

Ontario is the southernmost province in . It is sometimes called the Heartland Province because of its central location and importance. Ontario leads the other provinces in manufacturing, agriculture, and mining. ’s largest city, Toronto, is in Ontario. So is ’s capital, Ottawa.
Facts About Ontario
12,800,000 people
Rank among provinces and territories in population
Major cities
Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton
416,000 square miles
1,080,000 square kilometers
Rank among provinces and territories in area
Entry into federation
July 1, 1867
Provincial bird
Common Loon
Provincial flower
White Trillium
Ontario has more people than any other province in Canada. One-third of all Canadians live in Ontario. One-fourth of Canada’s farms are in Ontario. The province makes about half of the goods manufactured in Canada. Ontario exports many products to the United States, especially cars and trucks.
People, farms, and industries are clustered in the southern part of Ontario. Forests cover much of northern Ontario. Timber and paper are important industries. Rich mineral deposits are found in northern Ontario, too. Gold, nickel, copper, and other minerals come from Ontario’s mines.
Ontario borders four of North America’s five Great Lakes on its southern end: Erie, Huron, Ontario, and Superior. Ontario takes its name from Lake Ontario, the smallest and easternmost of the Great Lakes.
Ontario comes from an Indian word. No one is quite sure whether it’s from an Iroquois word meaning “handsome lake” or a Huron word meaning “large lake.” Within Ontario, there are at least 250,000 small lakes. The lakes are popular vacation spots for hiking, fishing, and camping.
Hudson Bay is to Ontario’s north. Hudson Bay links the province with the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Ontario also is linked to the Atlantic Ocean by the St. Lawrence River.
Niagara Falls plunges over cliffs between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Ontario shares this waterfall with New York State. Many waterfalls are higher than Niagara Falls. But few carry more water. Every minute, 35 million gallons (132 million liters) of water rush over the falls. Part of that water is sent to power plants.
Spectacular, roaring Niagara Falls has long been a popular tourist attraction. You can see the falls from up close, from the top of a tower, or from a boat that takes people to the bottom of the falls.
The first white settlers of Ontario came from the United States. They were Americans who had remained loyal to Great Britain during the American Revolution (1775-1783). After the Revolution ended, the “loyalists” fled to British-controlled Canada.
The United States invaded Ontario during the War of 1812 with Britain. After the war, settlement in Ontario was closed to Americans. However, many settlers arrived from Britain to farm the land. Ontario remained largely British until the mid-1900s.
Today, most new immigrants to Canada settle in Ontario, especially in Toronto. Ontario had a growth spurt in the late 1900s when many people from Asia and Latin America arrived. As a result, Toronto surpassed Montréal (in the province of Québec) as Canada’s largest city. Toronto has many interesting ethnic neighborhoods. They include Chinatown, Greektown, Little India, and Little Italy.
In 1857, Britain’s Queen Victoria chose Bytown as the capital of the United Province of Canada. It was later renamed Ottawa. At the time, Bytown was just a little industrial town. Why did the queen pick it? It was midway between Toronto and Montréal. Most people in Montréal spoke French, and most people in Toronto spoke English. The queen didn’t want to favor one group over the other. The town was also farther away from the United States border than Toronto and Montréal and more easily protected in case of war.
In 1867, the British Parliament created the Dominion of Canada. Ottawa remained the nation’s capital.
Tourist attractions and festivals in Ontario celebrate more than 60 cultures. The Six Nations Native Pageant is an Indian festival held every year at Brantford. Ontario’s Indians also gather for powwows that feature songs, dances, and storytelling.
Caribana is a big summer event in Toronto. This festival features Caribbean music, dance, food, and costumes. Another big festival in Ontario is the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Plays by William Shakespeare are performed from June to November in the town of Stratford.
You can visit a rebuilt village to learn what life was like in Ontario’s past. Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto is a country village from the 1860s. Fort William Historical Park at Thunder Bay shows life at a fur-trading post in 1816. Or you can travel Ontario’s Black Heritage Route. This route follows part of the Underground Railroad that many American slaves took to reach freedom in Canada.
Ontario has six national parks that preserve its scenic beauty. Bruce Peninsula National Park is located on a strip of land between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. It’s a great place to go hiking. It’s got forests, sandy beaches, lakes, and rugged cliffs. Fathom Five National Marine Park is underwater in Georgian Bay. Divers and snorkelers can see shipwrecks and sea life on the seafloor.
If you like to see birds, head for Point Pelee National Park in spring or fall. It’s on a bit of land that juts out into Lake Erie. Birds stop here on their way north each spring and on their way south each fall. Pukaskwa National Park is a wilderness area along the shores of Lake Superior.
Georgian Bay Islands National Park is a favorite location for summer camps for kids. The islands have rocky shores and windswept pine trees. Canada’s best-known artists liked to paint here. Scenic islands in the St. Lawrence River make up the St. Lawrence Islands National Park.
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