Top Tourist Attractions in Ontario
The province of Ontario is the political, industrial and cultural heart of Canada and its second largest province, situated between Québec and Manitoba.
An inland province, it nevertheless has 7600 km / 4723 mi of freshwater shoreline along the Great Lakes in the south and 1200 km / 746 mi of saltwater coast on James and Hudson Bay in the north.A fifth (200,000 sq. km / 77,200 sq. mi) of Ontario's surface area is not land but water, and its highest point is Mt Ogidaki, at 665 m / 2183 ft. The province extends for 1730 km / 1075 mi from north to south, and 1690 km / 1050 mi from east to west.Apart from a few exceptions in its extreme north and the south, Ontario belongs to the world's earliest geological era, its bedrock being the Pre-Cambrian Canadian Shield, mostly slate, granite and gneiss.Geographically the province can be divided into two parts. The northern, larger part, with some of the Hudson Bay coastal lowlands, the Patricia and Kesagami Plains and the Central Highlands and the Cochrane Plain are geologically part of the Canadian Shield, but the southern part, with only 12 per cent of the total area, is formed by the Niagara Escarpment. South of Hudson Bay is a district area, of 50,000 sq. km / 19,300 sq. mi which belonged to a much larger lake after the Ice Age, where the sediment deposited makes the land good enough for farming. The variation in sealevel is due to the land being raised several hundred feet after the melting of layers of ice that were miles thick.All life in the province was frozen out by the massive ice-sheets of the Laurentide Glacier at most 18,000 years ago. The glacier's retreat, begun in the south about 12,000 years ago, and lasting until about 7000 years past in northern Ontario, left its enduring mark on the landscape as it scooped out lakes and briefly blocked the St Lawrence, the whole of the meltwater flowing south along the Mississippi. The morainal scenery shows the direction taken by the long-gone glacial flows - particularly evident from the air - leaving a hilly landscape with many lakes and swamps.Ontario has a distinctly continental climate, although marked differences exist between north and south. Its southern part, especially the Ontario "peninsula", has milder winters, thanks to the Great Lakes, but wetter summers than the north of the province, where the winters are long, bright and very cold and the summers are short but sunny and hot. In Toronto the average July temperature is 22°C (71.6°F) and the frost-free period lasts from early May to mid-October. In Thunder Bay the average July temperature is 17.6°C (63.7°F) and in January a frosty 213.7°C (9°F), while it is without frost only from early June to mid-September. Annual rainfall varies in the province from 650 to 1020 mm (26 to 40 in.), and is thus evenly distributed throughout the year. Three to six feet of snow is normal in winter, and from autumn until well into spring blizzards can bring heavy snowfalls and abrupt drops in temperature. In spring and early summer the weather can be very capricious.Most Europeans will feel very much at home in the deciduous woodlands of the south. The transition to boreal conifers begins north of the River Severn as spruce, fir and pine come increasingly to dominate the landscape. The wildlife and vegetation of the fen and marshland is particularly interesting.Before the Europeans came, the land was the home of the Eastern Woodland Indians, among them the Iroquois and Algonquin, particularly in the south. They lived mostly from cultivating maize, beans and squash; they know nothing of rotation of crops or of fertilising the land, and after ten years, when the soil was exhausted, simply moved on, taking the whole village, where large families lived in longhouses, to another place. The Huron, on the other hand, were nomadic traders in fur and other goods, and they were the first to make contact with the French on the lower reaches of the St Lawrence.Samuel de Champlain decided in 1610 to push French influence further west and, with the Huron as allies, became the first missionary. The first Jesuit mission station was built in 1639 but Christian attempts at expansion came to an abrupt end in 1650 when the Iroquois destroyed it.In 1673 the Hudson's Bay Company founded Moosonee, the oldest settlement in the province, on Hudson Bay in the north. Ontario itself came about as a result of the American War of Independence. After Canada became British in 1763 10,000 Loyalists moved here from America, and, led by Joseph Brant, the Six Nations Indians, who had fought on the side of the British, settled on Grand River.Speedy settlement led to self-administration and in 1791 the old province of Québec became divided into Upper and Lower Canada, with Upper Canada becoming Ontario after 1867, at first with Niagara-on-the-Lake as its capital, and then Toronto.In 1812 the Americans attempted to capture Canada and declared war. Since England was busy fighting Napoleon at the time the Americans thought it would be an easy conquest, but they met bitter resistance on the Niagara Peninsula. Success in this struggle sharpened local self-awareness and gave Upper Canada a sense of its own identity.After the Anglo-American war the policy of encouraging immigration with land-grants and other inducements led to a quadrupling of the population. Between 1820 and 1840 1.5 million people emigrated to Upper Canada from Europe alone, in search of a better life and bringing with them new strengths and political ideas. The successful struggle for democracy and parliamentary government in Europe made Canada appear backward, with power residing in the hands of the British Governor and a few influential groups. The armed uprising led by William Lyon Mackenzie in 1837 was soon put down but it set the struggle for independence on the move again and in 1867 Ontario and Québec headed the Confederation of provinces, set free from England.Since the first census in 1871 Ontario has been the Canadian province with the largest population. From 1.6 million it reached 3.7 million in 1941. There was a new influx of immigrants after the Second World War, particularly from Europe. In recent years emigration from Asia has increased.The most densely populated area of Ontario is greater Toronto, with over 3 million people, tending to be concentrated in the urban areas, with over 65 per cent in townships of more than 10,000 people.Geographically speaking, 85 per cent of the population live in the south on only 15 per cent of the surface area. The north is virtually unsettled apart from mining, timber and fishing settlements.The 200km / 124mi long Rideau Canal, only 1.6m/ 5.25ft) deep, connects Ottawa with Kingston on Lake Ontario. It was originally intended as a second strategic route between Montréal and Lake Ontario, the military need for which was demonstrated during the war with the United States in 1812.At the time of building (1826-32) the canal was a triumph of constructional engineering. More than four dozen dams were required to control the water levels, and the 83m (272 ft) ascent to the summit between Ottawa and Lake Ontario meant that boats had to pass through numerous locks.Although steamers plied the canal for over a hundred years it never came to have any major economic significance. Today the waterway with its 24 operational locks is used mainly by pleasure boats and for tourism.It is one of history's curiosities that a camp for 2000 construction workers employed on building a branch of the canal from the Ottawa River should eventually become the capital of Canada.The staircase of eight locks on Parliament Hill is highly photogenic. Ottawa's first stone building was on a site next to the canal.
Northeastern Ontario is the region north and east of Lakes Superior and Huron. There are six cities and many smaller towns. This is a popular summer time area with great inland lakes and many summer cottages.
French River, the 112 km / 70 mi long waterway between Lake Nipissing and Georgian Bay, is about an hour's drive south of Sudbury. A group of French "voyageurs" and missionaries, Samuel de Champlain among them, set off into the interior from here in 1620. Nowadays the river is very popular with canoeists, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts generally.There are numerous fishing and recreational resorts along the river. Some of them are boat or float plane access only and offer complete packages for fishing, kayaking, or canoeing.Along the river is French River Provinicial Park with backcountry canoeing / boating campsites. The park is undeveloped and a great place to see wildlife.
Killarney Provincial Park
Also about an hour's drive from Sudbury, but to the south-west, lies the 363 sq. km / 140 sq. mi Killarney Provincial Park. This area bordering on Georgian Bay is still a part of the Canadian Shield, and includes the La Cloche mountains - sometimes snow capped even in early autumn. The Park is another much favored haunt of canoeists.
Map of Ontario Attractions