Thursday, February 26, 2015

Traversing Canada Tuesdays Thursdays: Ontario

image from here
highlighting added by me 

Today you get a special edition of "Traversing Canada Tuesdays." It's on a Thursday! Whoo hoo! I mostly decided to publish this post today because I was too busy relaxing to get it done for Tuesday. #mylifeissohard And with that explanation, let's get on with the show :)

Even though I live in Ontario, and have for almost half my life, I have to admit, it's not my favourite province. I think it's because it is very urban without a lot of wide open spaces, especially the area I live in. I like having the feeling of space and largeness around me, and I just don't get that same feeling in Ontario. Ontario is a huge province (over one million square kilometres (more than 621,000 square miles)) but it is also home to over thirteen million people. Considering I grew up in a province that just recently hit one million people, that could explain some of the lack of space I feel here :)

"Ontario" means "shining waters" in Iroquois and it's a great name for this province as four of the five Great Lakes make up parts of its borders. There are also over 250,000 lakes in Ontario and that doesn't include streams and rivers. In fact 19% of Ontario's surface is water, which is about one-third of the world's fresh water supply.
Me in Lake Superior in 2007
Given the importance of water, it's not surprising that the original transportation routes were all waterways. (The city I live in has two major streets which cross four times and the reason they are so twisty and complicated is because they were based on some of the major streams in the area.) The Great Lakes-St Lawrence Seaway system allows ships to travel along the St Lawrence River through the Great Lakes. This systems extends 3700 kilometres into the heart of North America.
Niagara Falls, more of Ontario's water!

The northern part of Ontario is defined by the Canadian Shield. It is a large horseshoe region of rock. It extends into five provinces and two territories. It includes forests and thousands of lakes, rivers, and streams. It is incredibly scenic to drive through but also so large that, after three days, it becomes quite boring :) This is how Dave and I drove to Edmonton in 2007, and we also made the trek a few times with my family when I was younger.
The forests consist of trees like spruce, pine, and cedar. It is home to animals like moose, bears, and wolves. One of my greatest disappointments during our drive across Northern Ontario is that we never saw a moose, despite various signs warning us of their presence.
There are also forests in Southern Ontario but they consist of trees like maples, which makes fall an absolutely beautiful time to live here.

Like the rest of Canada, Ontario's first residents were Native Americans. The Algonkian speaking people were Cree, Ojibwa, Algonquin, and Mississauga. They lived in the north and the east. The Iroquoian people were the Huron, Erie, Tobacco, and Iroquois. They lived in the north, east, and south. They fished, hunted, and farmed. About 190,000 descendants of these peoples still live in Ontario, many on reserves.

In 1610, the first European explorer arrived in Ontario. He was French, and shortly after, the British followed. Again, there were battles for control over the land and the fur trade for many years. Ontario had many names during this period. It was known as Upper Canada, Canada West, and finally named "Ontario" at Confederation in 1867. Many Loyalists from the American Revolution, and slaves escaping during the Civil War settled in Ontario.

By 1812 there were about 80,000 people living in Upper Canada. Britain and France were at war, and the British kept American ships from trading with France. The Americans became angry and there were several invasions into Canada. The British army fought off these invasions, and in the end, Canada was safe.

In 1837 there was an internal rebellion when farmers and business people rebelled against a nepotistic government. A rebellion at the same time in Lower Canada (now Quebec) led the British to unite the two into the province of Canda: Canada West (now Ontario) and Canada East (now Quebec). Manufacturing became a major industry in Canada West and by the time of Confederation, Ontario was a strong economic force in the country. By 1900, more people were living in cities than on farms. And new industries were forming -- steel, mining, and making cars. Many immigrants came to work in the factories, and settled in the cities, creating lively multicultural centres.

Eighty-five percent of Ontario's population lives in the south (No wonder I feel so crowded!), close to the Great Lakes and the American border, so the north becomes the getaway. Many people have cottages "up north" and the highways heading to these places are very crowded on weekends. Most of these cottages are on lakes. There are five national parks and 327 provincial parks in Ontario. I've been fortunate enough to spend some weekends at some of these cottages and they are indeed in beautiful territory.

Ontario's cities also offer many attractions, including festivals. The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is famous and I love going to see plays there. The largest museum in Canada -- the Royal Ontario Museum (or ROM) -- is located in Toronto, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, also in Toronto, is one of the largest art museums in North America.

Ottawa, Canada's capital, is also located in Ontario. In winter, skating on the Rideau Canal is a favourite pastime. I can't wait until Sam and Rachel are a little older and we'll take them to the parliament buildings in Ottawa.

Ontario produces more than half of the goods which are manufactured in Canada. It exports about 90% of those goods to The States. After Michigan, Ontario is the largest producer of cars in North America. And the things that Ontario doesn't make, it grows. Corn, wheat, soybeans, tomatoes, apples, peaches, grapes, and cherries are all grown in Ontario.

Interesting Facts:

Insulin was developed in Toronto in 1923.

Canada likes having BIG monuments. Here are the big nickel at Sudbury (a world leading producer in nickel) and the big goose at Wawa.
The first long distance call was made from Brantford to Mount Pleasant, ON by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. It was a six kilometre (a little over three mile) distance!
Canada's southernmost piece of land is Point Pelee, which is on the same latitude as northern California. This is a friend of mine from university and me at Point Pelee one January!

The longest street in the world is Yonge Street which runs 1896 kilometres (1178 miles) from downtown Toronto to Rainy River on the Ontario-Minnesota border.

Reference book: Canada Close Up: Ontario, by Adrianna Morganelli. Published 2009 by Scholastic.

1 comment:

Thank you for being interested in my life as I blog it and for leaving a comment. Comments make me happier than reading a good book and drinking a cold Coke. Almost :)