Here are some key facts about Ontario:

· Ontario’s more than 250,000 lakes contain about one-fifth of the world’s fresh water

· During the summer, temperatures can soar above 30°C (86°F), while in winter they can drop below -40°C (-40°F)

· Ontario’s industries range from cultivating crops, to mining minerals, to manufacturing automobiles, to designing software and leading-edge technology

· Cultures from around the world thrive and are celebrated in Ontario with festivals such as Caribbean Carnival, Oktoberfest and the Canadian Aboriginal Festival

· Travellers can enjoy the many experiences Ontario has to offer, from a wilderness expedition in the north, to a “shop till you drop into your theatre seat” city excursion



Ontario’s economy thrives through its unique combination of resources, manufacturing expertise, exports and a drive for innovation. Ontario generates 37% of the national GDP and is home to almost 50% of all employees in high tech, financial services and other knowledge-intensive industries”. Learn more about Ontario’s highly diversified economy. Learn more about Ontario’s highly diversified economy here.


Ontario lies in the core of the North American Free Trade area, which includes more than 460 million people and generates a combined gross domestic product of more than $18 trillion (purchasing power parity, current international $). In 2011, more than C$ 1.4 billion crossed the Canada-U.S. border each day and Ontario-US trade accounted for approximately C$ 716 million of that amount.


Ontario is part of the North American manufacturing heartland. Examples of Ontario’s key manufacturing industries include autos, information and communications technologies, biotech, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Here are some key facts about Ontario’s manufacturing sector:

· Ontario is the largest sub-national automotive assembly jurisdiction in North America

· According to Statistics Canada, 88% of Ontario’s vehicle production was exported (2011 figures), with almost all of the exports destined for the United States

· In 2011, Ontario’s manufacturing businesses shipped more than $258 billion

· After California and Texas, Ontario has the most manufacturing employees of any jurisdiction in Canada and the United States


Ontario has more than half of the highest quality (“Class 1”) farm land in Canada. There are 51,950 farms in Ontario (Census of Agriculture, 2011) and they make up almost one-quarter of all farm revenue in Canada.

Ontario’s agricultural production includes:

· Fruit crops, such as grapes, apples, berries and other tender fruits

· Vegetables

· Cash crops, such as soybeans, corn, mixed grains, forage crops, wheat and barley

· Commercial poultry, hog, dairy and beef cattle farms

· Flowers and other ornamental plants


Ontario’s forests play a major role in the province’s economy. They contribute to a good standard of living by supporting more than 53,000 direct jobs in the forest industry (2011). In total, the forestry sector supports almost 200,000 direct and indirect jobs across 260 Ontario communities.


Mineral production in Ontario was more than $10 billion in 2011. The mining industry in Ontario is a global leader in productivity and has world leading environmental standards. Ontario is among the top 10 producers in the world for nickel and platinum group metals. The province is also a significant producer of gold, copper, zinc, cobalt and silver. Southern Ontario produces non-metallic minerals including salt, gypsum, lime, nephelinesyenite and structural materials (sand, gravel, stone). The sedimentary rocks of the south are also the site of Ontario’s oil and gas industry.


Although Ontario is a manufacturing powerhouse, the services sector is the largest part of Ontario’s economy. It employs 79% (or 5.3 million people) of the province and makes up 76.9% of the province’s economy. Examples of Ontario’s major services sector include business and financial services, professional and scientific technical services, and arts and culture.


People have lived in what is now Ontario for more than 12,000 years. Before the arrival of the European settlers, Algonquian- and Iroquoian-speaking Aboriginals had settled on the land.

Experts aren’t sure about the exact translation of “Ontario”. They know “Ontario” comes from an Iroquois word for beautiful water, beautiful lake or big body of water.

Beginning in the 1600s, French and British settlers arrived in Canada and began to work the land. After the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), most of the land in Canada belonged to the British. The British called this area the province of Quebec, which included Quebec, Ontario and part of the United States.

After the American Revolution (1775-1783), many American colonists who were loyal to Britain moved to Ontario. They were known as United Empire Loyalists. Many Iroquois also moved to Upper Canada from northern New York State.

In 1791, the British enacted the Constitutional Act, which split Quebec into two parts. Ontario was upstream of the St. Lawrence River so it became Upper Canada and Quebec became Lower Canada.

Upper Canada’s first capital was Newark, which is now Niagara-on-the-Lake. In 1793, the capital was moved to York (now Toronto) to protect it from American attacks. Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor was General John Graves Simcoe.

Throughout the nineteenth century, many immigrant groups moved to Upper Canada, including Germans, Scots and Mennonites. By 1830, the population of Canada was about 235,000. Toronto became the first city in Ontario in 1834.

In 1867, Ontario and Quebec became separate provinces. They joined Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to form a federal union called the Dominion of Canada. This was declared in the British North America Act. The new country’s capital was the small town of Ottawa and the first prime minister was Sir John A. Macdonald.