Ontario

Origin of the Name

Map of Ontario

The word Ontario comes from the Iroquois word "kanadario", meaning "sparkling" water. The province is aptly named: lakes and rivers make up one-fifth of its area. In 1641, "Ontario" described the land along the north shore of the easternmost part of the Great Lakes. Later, the southern part of the province was referred to as "Old Ontario". The name "Ontario" was adapted for the new era that began in 1867, when the area became a province.

Population (2006) - 12,687,000
Area: Land - 891,190 km2
         Fresh Water - 177,390 km2
         Total - 1,068,580 km2
Capital: Toronto
Date of entry into Confederation: July 1, 1867







History

Ontario was first inhabited by the Algonquian and Iroquoian-speaking nations.The most important Algonquian nation in Ontario was the Ojibwa, which lived in northern Ontario. There were two major Iroquoian confederacies: the Iroquois and the Huron. The Five Nations of the Iroquois (Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Mohawk)lived near Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The Huron nation inhabited the area near Lake Simcoe.

These nations were highly developed politically and culturally by the time the Europeans penetrated the area. In 1610, Henry Hudson became the first European to set foot in Ontario. Samuel de Champlain and Étienne Brûlé first established contact with the First Nations of Southern Ontario in 1613.

By 1774, the British controlled what is now Southern Ontario, then part of the Province of Quebec. After the American Revolution, the great influx of Loyalists to this region led to the creation of a new province. The Constitutional Act of 1791, which split the province in two, renamed the area Upper Canada.

Rebellions against undemocratic government in 1837, in both Upper and Lower Canada, prompted the British to send Lord Durham to report on the troubles. As a result of Durham's recommendations, the Act of Union of 1840 joined Upper and Lower Canada once again, this time as the Province of Canada. Although a more democratic and responsible government resulted, the union was not a success: Canada East and Canada West continued to be two distinct regions. They entered the confederation conferences of 1864 as though they were separate, and they became different provinces — Ontario and Quebec — at Confederation in 1867.

Ontario is the second largest and the most populous province of Canada. At Confederation, the province was little larger than present-day southern Ontario. Bitter border disputes with Manitoba over the area north of Lake Superior ended in 1889, when it became part of Ontario. The rest of Northern Ontario was annexed in 1912 when Ontario expanded to its current size.

Coat of Arms

Ontario was granted its coat of arms by Queen Victoria in 1868. The arms were augmented with a crest, supporters and motto by King Edward VII in 1909.

The red Cross of St. George, symbolic of England, appears in the upper third of the shield. The lower portion of the shield features three golden maple leaves, emblematic of Canada, on a green background.

The shield is supported by a moose and a Canadian deer; a black bear appears on the crest above the shield.

Ontario is the only province or territory that uses a highly stylized rendition of its coat of arms.


Motto

UT INCEPIT FIDELIS SIC PERMANET (Loyal she began and loyal she remains)

Flag

The flag of Ontario was adopted by the Legislature in 1965, with Queen Elizabeth II approving the use of the Royal Union Flag within the flag design the same year.

Ontario's flag closely resembles the Canadian Red Ensign. The Royal Union Flag occupies the upper quarter near the staff, while the shield of arms of Ontario is centred in the fly half of the flag. The proportions of the flag are two by length and one by width.

Floral Emblem

Ontario's floral emblem, the white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), was adopted in 1937. It blooms in late April and May. The blooms are very sensitive to light, and the white flowers usually bend toward the sun as it moves across the sky. The white trillium is found in the deciduous forests and woodlands of Ontario.

The adoption of an official flower for Ontario grew out of a movement during the First World War to choose a national floral emblem appropriate for planting on the graves of Canadian servicemen overseas. The trillium was proposed by the Ottawa Horticultural Society. Although it was well received, no national flower was ever chosen.






Other Provincial Symbols

Tartan:
Tartan of the Province of Ontario
Tree:
Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
Bird:
Common Loon
Gemstone:
Amethyst
Colours:
Green and Yellow
Franco-Ontarian Flag
 

[ Previous Page | Table of Contents | Next Page ]