1902 Encyclopedia > Ontario


ONTARIO is the name given under the confederation of the provinces of British North America to what was previously known as Upper Canada (see CANADA). The river Ottawa, through a considerable part of its course,, forms the eastern boundary separating it from, the province of Quebec. Its southern and south-western boundaries are the Lakes Ontario, Erie, St Clair, Huron, and Superior, with the St Lawrence, Niagara, St Clair, Detroit, and St Mary rivers. The northern and western boundaries, which had remained without precise determination so long as the region beyond was the hunting-ground of the Hudson's. Bay Company, were defined in 1878 by arbitrators named by the Dominion and provincial Governments. By this award the boundary line is traced from a point deter-mined by a line produced due north from the head of Lake Temiscaming to James Bay, along the south shore of Hudson's Bay westerly to the mouth of the Albany river, and so by the river and lakes to the head of Lake Joseph, and by Lac Seul and the English river to a point of intersection with the meridian line drawn from the north-western angle of the Lake of the Woods on the United States boundary. The legislature of Ontario ac-cepted this award as determining the limits, and defining the boundary line between the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, but the Dominion Government withheld its assent, and the final decision is now referred to the privy council. The area of the province within the limits thus defined would be 197,000 square miles. Its area as given • in the census returns of 1881 is 101,733 square miles.

Geology and Minerals.—The shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario belong to the great plain of Canada, underlaid by Silurian and Devonian limestone and shales, above which rest beds of clay and gravel. Its average breadth is about 70 miles, and, though technically a plain, it is not merely undulating, but is broken by shelving rocks and precipices. To the north of the province a spur from the Laurentian chain in Quebec forms an extensive hilly region, and runs southwards to the coasts of Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay. Within the province there is a great variety of mineral wealth yet only partially developed. Iron, of which, according to the census returns, the annual yield is about 92,000 tons, is found in large quantities to the north of Lake Ontario, between the Georgian Bay and the Ottawa river. Magnetic iron is obtained in various beds, red hematite in the Bruce copper-mines near Lake Huron, and bog iron in the sandy tracks which flank the Laurentian hills. Copper is found in the same region as iron, the Bruce mines yielding ore to the annual value of £50,000. Silver abounds on the shores of Lake Superior, especially in the neighbourhood of Thunder Bay,—Silver Islet, where the ore is dug 500 feet below Lake Superior,, containing one of the richest veins in the world. Gold is obtained in the same region, but the yield is so uncertain as to discourage regular enterprise. There are petroleum wells of immense value in the western districts of the province, the annual yield being nearly 16,000,000 gallons of crude petroleum. Salt brine is drawn up from deep wells at Goderich and the neighbourhood, the annual yield being about 500,000 gallons. Mica is extensively worked. Marble equal to that of Carrara is quarried in several districts. The principal other minerals are galena, plumbago, antimony, arsenic, manganese, calc-spar, and gypsum.

Agriculture and Trade.—The oldest settled districts of the province on the shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and on the intervening peninsula of Niagara, are favoured in many respects by geographical position, soil, and climate. The fertile area stretching westward between Lake Erie and the Georgian Bay is often styled the "Garden of Canada." The settled portions include upwards of 9,000,000 acres, much of which has been long cleared and brought into a high state of cultivation. Thousands of acres are planted as orchards; and the apple crop is a profitable branch of farm produce. In the still earlier settled district of Niagara, which lies between the two great lakes, the extremes alike of summer heat and winter cold are tempered by those large bodies of water. There accordingly the peach, grape, and plum flourish; orchards of apple and pear trees cover large areas; and, as seen from Queenston heights, the landscape looks like a garden. The vine is indigenous," and grows luxuriantly in the woods, as do all the smaller fruits.

But the energy of more recent settlers has greatly ex-tended cultivation. Bands of pioneers, lumber-men, and free-grant settlers have carried the axe and the plough into the Muskoka, Nipissing, and other northern districts ; and those regions are now accessible by steamboat and rail-way. The rich mineral regions of Lake Superior are also filling up with settlers. The town of Prince Arthur's Landing, at the head of the lake, is now the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and already numbers fully 2000 inhabitants.

According to the census of 1881, 19,259,909 acres were in occupation, of which 11,294,109 were improved, 304,815 being in gardens and orchards, and 10,989,294 under cultivation in pasture or grain and root crops. Much of the land is well adapted for wheat, but in many places the crop has been grown too often. Barley, oats, and pease are common crops. Maize and tomatoes ripen well. Tobacco and sugar are profitable crops in some districts. The growth of flax is largely on the increase. As the soil in nearly every part of the province is admirably adapted for root crops, cattle are very largely kept, although there are no extensive grazing districts. The beef trade with England has become very extensive, and dairy-farming is largely prosecuted, especially the making of cheese, a large number of cheese factories being now established on the co-operative principle. Honey is an important source of revenue, about 1,200,000 lb being exported annually. There is a very large export of timber, including pines, oak, elm, hackmatack, birch, maple, walnut, and hickory. In the official returns of the exports of the different provinces some of the most valuable produce of Ontario is included in the shipments from the ports of Quebec. According to the trade and navigation tables for 1883, the total value of goods entered for consumption was $44,452,804, or £9,134,143, and of exports $32,890,019, or £6,758,242. The splendid natural water communications have been extensively supplemented by railways, of which there are about 4000 miles in operation. There are very extensive saw-mills at Ottawa. The manufacture of agricultural implements employs a large number of persons through--out the province, as does also that of machinery, sewing-machines, and edged tools. Among the principal other manufactures are woollen goods (especially tweeds), cottons, leather, paper, soap, and iron and hardware. According to the census returns the total capital invested in the various industries, not including agriculture but includ-ing cheese factories, was $80,950,847, the number of hands employed 118,308, and the total value of products $157,989,870.

Population.—The population in 1871 amounted to 1,620,851; in 1881 it had increased to 1,923,228. Of this, the population of twelve towns of upwards of 5000 inhabitants numbered in 1871 179,829v In 1881 the towns of a population exceeding 5000 had increased from twelve to nineteen, with inhabitants numbering 288,964, leaving the remaining population as occupants of the small towns, rural villages, and farms. At the end of 1883 the population was estimated at 1,935,130 (urban, 671,917; rural, 1,263,213).

Classified according to race, those of European origin were as follows in 1881 :—

Swiss 2,382
Scandinavian 1,521
Russians and Poles 787
Italians 687
Spanish and Portuguese 285
Jews 254
Irish 627,262
English 535,835
Scotch 378,536
German 188.394
French 102,743
Dutch 22,163
"Welsh 6,397

In addition to those from other provinces, the United States, etc., there were 15,325 Indians and 12,097 Africans.

Classified according to religion, the principal denomina-tions were in 1881 as follows :—
Methodists 591,503
Presbyterians 417,479
Episcopalians 366,539
Roman Catholics 320,839
Baptists 106,680
Lutherans 37,901
Congregationalists 16,340
Disciples 16,051
Quakers 6,307

The capital of the province is Toronto (population in 1881, 86,415); next in point of wealth, population, and general local advantages is the city of Hamilton (35,961); Ottawa (27,412) is the capital of the Dominion ; the other large centres of population are London (19,746), Kingston (14,091). Next to these are Guelph, St Catherine's (on the Welland Canal), Brantford, Belleville, St Thomas, Stratford, Chatham, Brockville, Peterborough, Port Hope, "Woodstock, Gait, and Lindsay, with populations ranging from 9890 to 5080. Cobourg (4957) is the seat of Victoria College.

Education.—One of the most distinctive features of the province is its system of public instruction, to which special attention has been given from an early period. So early as 1797 lands were set apart for educational pur-poses ; and there now exists a thoroughly efficient system of public schools, high schools and collegiate institutes, provincial college and university, under the administration of a minister of education as the head of this department. The management of all funds for general educational pur-poses, the provincial school inspectors, normal and model schools, Arc, are under the direct charge of the educational department. Under its control the local government is vested in boards of school trustees elected by the rate-payers in rural districts or townships, villages, towns, counties, and cities, in accordance with a general system of municipal organization. Each local board determines the required rates to be levied for school purposes, purchases sites, builds schoolhouses, appoints teachers from among those duly qualified and holding Government certificates, and determines and pays their salaries. The councils of county municipalities have certain powers and duties con-ferred on them in reference to the townships, villages, and towns within each county. They also select duly qualified inspectors, appoint county boards for the exami-nation of third-class teachers, and levy a rate equivalent to the amount of the legislative educational grant to be expended in the payment of one-half of the salaries of their teachers and school inspectors. Collegiate institutes and high schools (in which a higher English course is taught, along with classics, mathematics, and French and German, to pupils -admitted from the public schools on an entrance examination) are under the management of special boards of trustees appointed by city or county councils, with the power of requiring the council to raise all funds requisite for the efficient maintenance of the schools. Provincial normal schools for training teachers are estab-lished at Toronto and Ottawa, with model schools attached to them; and each county town maintains a model school for training third-class teachers. The school-system is thus mainly dependent on county and local rates levied for the purpose by councils and school-boards elected by the people. This general system is modified in one respect. In any locality where Roman Catholics reside in sufficient numbers, they may require their share of the school funds and rates to be applied for tlie maintenance of separate schools, under their own special school-board; but their teachers must hold the same Government certificates as others. The system includes provision for enforcing attendance of all children of school age, and, at the option of the trustees, making education free of all charge. The report of the minister of education for 1882 shows that there were in all 104 collegiate institutes and high schools, 5013 public schools, and 193 Roman Catholic separate schools. The system thus thoroughly organized has be-come a model for the other provinces of the Dominion, with the exception of Quebec, where the Roman Catholic Church has the control of the public schools, and a sepa-rate school-system is allowed for the Protestant minority.

Upper Canada College, founded at Toronto on the model of the great public schools of England, was en-dowed with public lands, from which it now derives an annual income of $15,000 in addition to its fees. The University of Toronto and University College are endowed with lands from the proceeds of which an annual income of upwards of $67,000 is derived. The university pre-scribes the requirements in all examinations, appoints ex-aminers, and confers degrees in the faculties of law, medi-cine, and arts. University College gives instruction in the departments of arts and science; but denominational and other colleges are admitted to affiliation, and their students can proceed to degrees in the university. University powers are also exercised by Victoria College, Cobourg, under the control of the Methodist Church; Queen's Col-lege, Kingston, under the control of the Presbyterian Church; and Trinity College, Toronto, and the Western University, London, both under the control of the Church of England.

Administration.—Like the other provinces of Canada, Ontario is under a lieutenant-governor, appointed for a term of four years by the governor-general in council; the executive council numbers 6 ministers responsible to the local legislature or house of assembly, which consists of 88 members. The province is represented by 24 senators in the Dominion Senate, and by 92 members in the House of Commons. In addition to the counties and repre-sentative towns there are four provisional districts :— Algoma, Muskoka, Parry Sound, and Manitoulin.

History.—Lakes Ontario and Nipissing were visited by Cham-plain in 1615, and Lake Superior by traders in 1660. Perrot took possession of the district round Lake Huron in 1671. La Salle founded Niagara in 1679, and in the same year the lakes were explored to Lake Michigan. A fort was built at Toronto in 1749. Forming originally part of French Canada, Ontario, then consist-ing of a few forts and trading ports, was conceded with that pro-vince to Britain. Having previously formed part of the province of Quebec, it was, under the name of Upper Canada, formed in 1791 into a distinct province, the first parliament being held at Niagara, 17th November 1792. During the war with the United States in 1812-15 the province was the seat of several conflicts. Political dissent prevailed in it from 1820 until, in 1837, it culminated in re-bellion. In 1867 Upper Canada, under the name of Ontario, was made the chief province of the Dominion of Canada. (D. W.)

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