Delawana Resort Muskoka, Ontario

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Ontario train

Province of Ontario

Ontario map of Canada

Ontario is one of the ten provinces of Canada, located in East-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province by a large margin, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all Canadians, and is the second largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth largest in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included. It is home to the nation's capital city, Ottawa, and the nation's most populous city, Toronto.

Ontario is bordered by the province of Manitoba to the West, Hudson Bay and James Bay to the North, and Quebec to the East, and to the South by the US states of Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. All of Ontario's 2,700 km border with the United States follows inland waterways: from the West at Lake of the Woods, Eastward along the major rivers and lakes of the Great Lakes/Saint Lawrence River drainage system. These are the Rainy River, the Pigeon River, Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and along the St. Lawrence River from Kingston, Ontario, to the Quebec boundary just east of Cornwall, Ontario.

Ontario is sometimes conceptually divided into two regions, Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario. The great majority of Ontario's population is located in the South. In contrast, the larger, Northern part of Ontario is sparsely populated with cold winters and is heavily forested. The population of Ontario as of 2014 is 13.6 million.


The province is named after Lake Ontario, a term thought to be derived from Ontarí:io, a Huron (Wyandot) word meaning "great lake", or possibly skanadario, which means "beautiful water" in the Iroquoian languages. Ontario consists of about 250,000 freshwater lakes.


The province consists of three main geographical regions: The thinly populated Canadian Shield in the Northwestern and central portions, which comprises over half the land area of Ontario. Although this area does not support agriculture very well, it is rich in minerals and in part covered by the Central and Midwestern Canadian Shield forests, outlined with lakes and rivers.

Northern Ontario is subdivided into two sub-regions: Northwestern Ontario and Northeastern Ontario. The underpopulated Hudson Bay Lowlands in the extreme North and Northeast, mainly swampy and sparsely forested.

Southern Ontario which is further sub-divided into four regions; Central Ontario, Eastern Ontario, Golden Horseshoe and Southwestern Ontario. Despite the absence of any mountainous terrain in the province, there are large areas of uplands, particularly within the Canadian Shield which traverses the province from Northwest to Southeast and also above the Niagara Escarpment which crosses the South.

The highest point is Ishpatina Ridge at 693 metres above sea level located in Temagami, Northeastern Ontario. In the south, elevations of over 500 metres are surpassed near Collingwood, above the Blue Mountains in the Dundalk Highlands and in hilltops near the Madawaska River in Renfrew County.

The Carolinian forest zone covers most of the Southwestern region of the province. The Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Valley in the south is part of the Eastern Great Lakes lowland forests where the forest has now been largely replaced by agriculture, industrial and urban development. A well-known geographic feature is Niagara Falls, part of the Niagara Escarpment.

The Saint Lawrence Seaway allows navigation to and from the Atlantic Ocean as far inland as Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario. Northern Ontario is roughly 87 percent of the surface area of the province; conversely Southern Ontario contains 94 percent of the population. Point Pelee is a peninsula of Lake Erie in Southwestern Ontario that is the southernmost extent of Canada's mainland. Pelee Island and Middle Island in Lake Erie extend slightly farther. All are south of 42°N – slightly farther South than the Northern border of California.


Ontario enjoys four different seasons every year. Because the province is so big, average temperatures can vary considerably from North to South.

We have warm summers during July and August and comfortable weather in spring (May and June) and the fall (September and October). Winters can be very cold, especially in Northern Ontario. If you are used to a tropical or hot climate, be prepared to dress warmly during the winter.

The climate of Ontario varies by season and location. It is affected by three air sources: cold, dry, arctic air from the North; Pacific polar air crossing in from the Western Canadian Prairies/US Northern Plains; and warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The effects of these major air masses on temperature and precipitation depend mainly on latitude, proximity to major bodies of water and to a small extent, terrain relief. In general, most of Ontario's climate is classified as humid continental. Ontario has three main climatic regions.


Old map of Ontario

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the region was inhabited by Algonquian (Ojibwa, Cree and Algonquin) in the Northern/Western portions, and Iroquois and Wyandot (Huron) tribes more in the South/East. During the 17th century, the Algonquians and Hurons fought the Beaver Wars against the Iroquois.

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. 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.

From 1634 to 1640, Hurons were devastated by European infectious diseases, such as measles and smallpox, to which they had no immunity. 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 to Britain. The region was annexed to Quebec in 1774. The first European settlements were in 1782-1784 when 5,000 American loyalists entered what is now Ontario following the American Revolution. The Kingdom of Great Britain granted them 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, 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.