Ontario is Canada’s most populous province and the second-largest in total area. It was the very first province we settled into and had been our home for a couple of years (before we made our way to the Prairies). Because we miss Toronto so much, we have researched and put together a list of interesting facts about Ontario for you!
Ontario has diverse natural regions that include extensive forests, coastline on three of North America’s Great Lakes, and thousands of inland lakes. So keep reading as we share some fun facts about Ontario in this post.
55 Interesting facts about Ontario Canada
1. Ontario is the second-largest province in Canada
Ontario is the second largest province in Canada (after Quebec). It has a landmass of more than one million square kilometres or 3.85 million square miles. It has five Great Lakes, numerous rivers connecting them, and very diverse ecosystems.
2. Ontario is home to Canada’s most southerly point
Ontario is home to Canada’s most southerly point – Pelee Island. It has a beautiful old lighthouse and you can also go on hikes.
3. Ontario is the most populous province in Canada
Ontario has the highest population in Canada – around 14.57 million inhabitants (2019). Over half of the population is located in the Southwestern Ontario area.
4. Ontario’s Provincial Symbols
- Amethyst (official mineral, adopted in 1975),
- Loon (official bird, adopted in 1994),
- Eastern White Pine (official tree, adopted in 1984),
- White Trillium ( official flower, adopted in 1937),
- Tartan (official tartan, adopted in 2000),
- Ontario Flag (adopted in 1965),
- Coat of Arms (adopted in 1909),
- Franco-Ontarian Flag (first raised in 1975).
5. Ontario means ‘sparkling water’ and here’s why
The word “Ontario” comes from the Iroquois word “kanadario”, which means “sparkling” water. The province is aptly named, and you will know why as you go through this list of interesting facts about Ontario.
Let’s give you a hint: about one-fifth of the province is water (lakes and rivers). The name “Ontario” was adapted for the new era that began in 1867 when it became a province.
6. Yes, there is a lake by this name (and that’s how the province got its name)
Ontario is home to a lake of the same name. And this is how the province actually got its name.
7. Ontario was called Upper Canada – once
The present-day boundaries of Ontario were initially called Upper Canada and it was established in 1791 by the Kingdom of Great Britain.
8. Ontario was first explored by Europeans in the 1600s
The French explorer Étienne Brûlé led some early expeditions into Ontario, but it was the English who laid the foundations of permanent settlements. A string of forts along Lake Ontario’s north shore became a hub for trade between European settlers and Native American communities, creating a litany of conflicts along the way.
9. Ontario’s capital city is Toronto
Toronto is Canada’s largest city and Ontario’s capital. It has a population of around 2.93 million people (in 2017), which makes it the 5th most populous city in North America.
10. The CN Tower used to be the tallest freestanding structure in the world
The CN Tower is a 553.33 metre-high (1,815 ft 5 in) tower with an observation level and a revolving restaurant. It used to be the tallest freestanding structure in the world until it was surpassed by Burj Khalifa, another skyscraper located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
11. The EdgeWalk is a unique attraction in North America
EdgeWalk is a special attraction inside the CN Tower, and it is one of the first of its kind in North America.
EdgeWalk is the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk. On this activity, you can walk on a 5 ft (1.5 m) wide ledge and encircle the top of the Tower’s main pod. You can enjoy this thrilling experience at about 356m/1168ft (116 storeys) above the ground.
12. Yonge Street in Toronto is the longest street in the world
Yonge Street, located in Toronto Ontario is the longest street in the world. It is about 1896 km or 1,178 miles long and starts in Lake Shore and extends to Rainy River at the Ontario/Minnesota border.
The street was named after a British Secretary of War – George Yonge.
13. Ontario is home to the busiest airport in Canada
Toronto Pearson International Airport in Ontario is the busiest airport in Canada. Every year about 40 million travelers pass through the airport.
14. Ontario’s famous for its beautiful canoe routes
There are over 1,200 miles of canoe routes Ontario offers one of the quintessential ways to explore the province – yes you guessed it via a canoe. You can go on a voyageur canoe, or book a tour – there are so many access and launch points to choose from.
15. Ontario has one of the greatest sources of hydroelectric power in the world
The Niagara River is one of the world’s greatest sources of hydroelectric power, and it is located in Ontario. There are two hydroelectric power stations in Niagara Falls – known as Sir Adam Beck I and Sir Adam Beck II.
The Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Generation Station is a hydroelectric generating station with a capacity of around 2,000 megawatts, which makes it one of the largest hydroelectric power stations in the world.
16. Niagara Falls is a must visit – it is located in Ontario Canada
Niagara Falls is one of the three well-known waterfalls around the world. Although Niagara Falls can be accessed from the USA as well, the Canadian side is more popular.
The Horseshoe Falls is located in Ontario, while the American Falls can be found on the US side of the border.
People visiting Ontario should add Niagara to their Canada travel bucket list.
17. Home to one of the largest waterfalls in the world
Niagara Falls is the second largest waterfall in the world (right after Victoria Falls in Africa).
18. Ottawa is the capital city of Canada – located in Ontario
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, and it is located in Ontario, about a 4 to 5-hour drive from Toronto.
Due to its close proximity with both English and French Canada, it was chosen as the capital city in 1857, by Queen Victoria of Britain.
19. Ottawa is one of the coldest capitals in the world
Ottawa is the seventh coldest capital in the world after the likes of Ulaan-Baatar Moscow, Helsinki, Reykjavik, and Tallinn.
20. The longest skating rink in the world is in Ontario
Ottawa’s Rideau Canal becomes the longest skating rink in the world (7.8 km). This is a great place to go ice skating during the Canadian winter months.
21. Lake Muskoka is a very popular tourist destination
There are many tourists that head to Lake Muskoka year-round, but it’s especially popular during the summer and fall months. One of the main attractions in this area is the Algonquin Provincial Park. There are multiple outfitters offering boat tours through this region – some even provide the option of staying overnight on the water.
22. Diefenbunker bunker is the world’s largest escape room
Located in Ontario, the Diefenbunker is known as the ‘world’s largest escape room.’ It was originally built to act as a military base, but today it is used for entertainment purposes only.
23. Lake Ontario is great for scuba diving
Lake Ontario is a great place to go scuba diving. There are tons of amazing underwater treasures that you can check out!
24. Ontario has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites
There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ontario – Rideau Canal and Pimachiowin Aki (mixed UNESCO World Heritage site spread across Ontario and Manitoba).
The Rideau Canal was built in 1832 and is now the oldest continuously operated canal across North America.
Pimachiowin Aki, on the other hand, is a series of sites that include unique rock formations, as well as rare boreal forests and limestone cliffs. It also contains many sacred and burial sites from First Nations communities.
25. Ontario is home to 5 Canadian National Parks
There are 5 national parks in Ontario Canada (out of the 38 recognized ones in the country),
- Pukaskwa National Park
- Bruce Peninsula National Park
- Georgian Bay Islands National Park
- Thousand Islands National Park
- Point Pelee National Park
26. Polar Bear Provincial Park is the largest park in Ontario
Although Polar Bear Provincial Park is the largest one in the province, it is not easy to reach there and explore. In fact, it is only reachable by air, and you also need a special permit to visit.
This park gets hundreds of polar bears, that migrate through the area.
27. There are over 700 museums in Ontario
With so many museums to choose from in Ontario, you can literally spend weeks exploring them all!
Some of the most popular museums include the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), TIFF Bell Lightbox, Bata Shoe Museum, Gardiner Museum, and Canada Agriculture & Food Museum.
28. Ontario was home to a WWII spy school
The Spy School in Ontario was used by Allied Forces to train secret agents during World War II. It is located in Whitby, Ontario. Today it is called the Intrepid Park.
29. Ontario is home to about 230 species of animals and plants that are at risk
In Ontario, there are over 230 plant and animal species that are at risk of extinction or disappearing from the province, a number that is growing every year.
30. Ontario has more than 250,000 lakes
Ontario is home to about 250 000 lakes that’s about one-fifth of the world’s freshwater.
31. Ontario is home to the ‘Waterfall Capital of the World’
Hamilton in Ontario is known as the “Waterfall Capital of the World” with more than 100 waterfalls.
32. Ontario is part of the Great Lakes region
Ontario (and Ontario’s neighbors) are home to about 6 quadrillion liters of freshwater! This is enough water to cover all of Ontario in almost one meter deep.
This is a great place to live if you’re someone who prefers a more relaxed lifestyle – with trips to the beach being a common occurrence during the summer.
33. Largest freshwater dune system
Located in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, is the largest freshwater dune system on earth.
34. There are so many beaches in Ontario that you could spend all summer trying them out
Lake Erie, Lake Saint Clair, Lake Huron, and Georgian Bay – just to name a few – offer popular beach locations for tourists and locals alike. There are also Muskoka’s famous waterfront towns (such as Port Carling and Bracebridge) as well as the Thousand Islands region for beach lovers to enjoy and explore.
35. There are more than 100 beaches on Lake Ontario alone
There are over 100 beaches on Lake Ontario, and it is a very popular spot for locals and visitors to hit in the summer!
36. The highest point in Ontario is Ishpatina Ridge
Located in the northeastern part of the province, Ishpatina Ridge is taller than any other point in Ontario. It is an interesting destination for hikers, however, due to its location on top of a rocky plateau – it’s not exactly an easy climb.
37. 1000 Islands are in Ontario Canada
A UNESCO World Biosphere region, 1000 Islands are located on the border of Ontario and New York. However, they are all technically in Canada – with the exception of Alexandria Bay.
38. Ontario has sand dunes
Sand Hill Park located on the north shore of Lake Erie is home to the tallest sand dunes in the province. It is more than 100 metres above the white sandy beaches situated nearby, and the massive sand hills are an amazing attraction with incredible views.
39. The largest urban car-free community in North America
The Toronto Islands are the largest car-free community in North America with an amazing view of the city’s skyline.
40. There are a lot of maple trees in Ontario
Ontario is one of the world’s largest producers of maple syrup and you will have no problem finding a place to buy it! There are about 2,673 maple syrup farms in Ontario (second highest in the country after Quebec).
If you didn’t know this already, there is an incredible number of things you can do with Maple syrup – from pancakes to cocktails to desserts!
41. Ontario’s home to over 160 wineries!
If wine happens to be your thing, this is great news for you. Ontario has over 160 wineries! There are so many different varieties of wine to choose from – including fruit wines, ice wines, and more.
42. Treasury Wine Estates Canada is headquartered in Ontario
Treasury Wine Estates Canada, the largest publicly traded winery in the country (known for brands like Inniskillin Wines and Jackson-Triggs), is headquartered in Ontario. You can also take tours of their facilities during the summer months.
43. Ontario’s home to 270 craft breweries
The Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) is an association that represents small and independent brewers throughout the province. In 2019, Ontario, Canada, was home to nearly 270 licensed beer breweries.
So there are tons of craft breweries for you to try out!
44. Ontario’s home to its very own unique cuisine
If you’ve never had poutine, perogies, or butter tarts before – you’re in for a treat. These are just some of the unique dishes that make up Ontario’s culinary scene. Plus Toronto has over 8,000 restaurants boasting food from around the world
So whether you’re looking for something sweet, savory, or crunchy – there are options! You will find restaurants serving up all sorts of international cuisines in Ontario.
45. Ontario is home to the biggest Oktoberfest after Germany
A city in Ontario, named Kitchener is home to the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany. Kitchener has only around 200 000 people. It is Canada’s largest Bavarian Festival and takes place from the end of September to early October.
46. Ontario has an amazing public transportation system
Ontario’s public transportation system includes subways, trains, and buses – the largest being the Go Transit. It also features a number of taxi companies that can get you from place to place.
You will rarely have to pay for parking in Ontario due to its great public transport options
With a public transportation system this good, you’ll rarely have to rely on a car. The result? You’ll barely have to pay for parking or even worry about it!
47. Ontario has a movie industry and a lot of Hollywood movies are shot here
Toronto has a film industry (one of the 4 in the country), and about 25% of Hollywood movies are shot here.
48. Ontario has produced many famous people
There are some pretty famous Ontarians – Justin Bieber for example!
But there are also many notable names that come from the province – like Celine Dion, Shania Twain (born in Windsor), Alanis Morrisette (born in Ottawa), Matt Damon (raised there), Keanu Reeves (born in Beirut but raised in Toronto).
49. The largest Canadian zoo is in Ontario
The Toronto Zoo is the largest zoo in Canada and it is the third-largest in the world. You will find 16,000 animals from various species.
50. Canada’s Wonderland is one of North America’s oldest amusement parks
Canada’s Wonderland may have been superseded by bigger parks, but it’s still one of the best! It is the largest theme park in Canada, and one of the oldest in North America. It draws over 3 million visitors each year.
51. You can also go skiing here during winter months
If you’re looking for somewhere good to ski/snowboard, Ontario has plenty of options. Like the Blue Mountains, Collingwood, Batawa to name a few. You’ll want to check snow coverage and conditions before you start, but it’s definitely possible.
52. There are over 800 golf courses in Ontario to play on!
Ontario has a ton of great golf courses for you to choose from – if you’re willing to travel around the province for them! There are over 800 from Ottawa to the Niagara region, to Sarnia, Windsor, and London.
53. Highest hydro rates in North America
Ontario residents pay the highest rates for electricity in all of North America.
54. There are so many things to do in Ontario that you could spend a lifetime trying them all
From amusement parks to skiing, go-kart racing to beauty spas, there’s something for everyone in Ontario. World-class attractions include Wonderland, Canada’s Wonderland, and the Wild Water Kingdom – just a few of the many popular theme parks in the province.
If you prefer nature, there are also provincial parks such as Algonquin and Killarney.
55. Ontario has one of the highest standards of living in the world
This is due to its abundance of natural resources, economic stability, and high quality of life that Ontario is known to have the highest standards of living in the world. It is also home to some of the largest corporations in Canada, with top Fortune 500 companies.
So you see, there is a lot to know about Ontario. We hope you found this article on Ontario facts interesting and informative. We encourage you to read more of our blog posts for Canada travel inspiration and check out other topics that might interest you!
- Interesting facts about Canada
- Interesting facts about Alberta
- Interesting facts about British Columbia
- Saskatchewan Fun Facts