The history of this Province dates back to the time when the country was first settled by the United Empire Loyalists who migrated from the States to the south at the close of the War of Independence. At that time; Upper Canada, as it was then called, was unbroken forest, but to-day it is the most populous Province of the Dominion of Canada with over two and a half millions of people. Ontario has an estimated area of two hundred thousand square miles exclusive of that portion of the Great Lakes lying within the international boundary. From east to west it is over a thousand miles in breadth stretching from the Quebec boundary on the east as far as the eastern boundary of Manitoba, and its length from its southern boundary to the shores of James Bay on the north is 750 miles. This great Territory is irregular in shape, and may be roughly divided geographically into three sectionseastern, western and northern. The eastern portion of the province is that lying between the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario,. Western Ontario is the populous and fertile section lying to the north of Lake Erie and the west shore of Lake Huron. North-ern Ontario, or as it is sometimes called, New Ontario, comprises the four great districts Nipissing, Algoma, Thunder Bay and Rainy River lying to the north of Lake Superior and extending to the eastern boundary of Manitoba.
Eastern and western Ontario are well supplied with railways, and have abundant facilities for transportation by water. It is here that most of the large cities and towns are situated, among them being Toronto, Hamilton, London, Kingston and Brantford. The southern portion has been described as the garden of the Province. It is of great fertility and suited by soil and climate to farming in all its branches. The climate is tempered by the proximity of the Great Lakes, and the winter is shorter and milder compared with many other parts of the Dominion. The apple orchards are most productive, and peaches, grapes, pears, plums and various varieties of small fruits are grown in the open in abundance. Tobacco is also cultivated.
Although the Province of Ontario has enormous sources of wealth in its lands, forests, mines, fisheries and manufactures, agriculture has always been and is likely to remain its most important industry. The returns of the Bureau of Industries for 1909 show that the Province had 24,676,883 acres of assessed land, of which 14,257,169 acres were cleared. The acreage under Fall Wheat was 663,375 ; Spring Wheat, 135,161 ; Barley, 695,262 ; Oats, 2,695,585 ; Peas, 381,609 ; Beans, 45,029 ; Rye, 94,661 ; Buckwheat, 176,630 ; Corn for husking, 322,789 ; Corn for Silo, 288,346 ; Potatoes, 169,695 ; Hay and Clover, 3,228,445. The acreage of orchard and small fruits was 324,978, and vineyards, 11,420. Of pasture (cleared land) there were in 1909, 3,160,780 acres. The number of horses on hand in the year 1909 was 728,308, valued at 7,682,689.
In dairying, Ontario enjoys a well-deserved reputation for the high quality of the cheese, butter, milk and cream which have for years been produced in large quantities for export. The raising of hogs for bacon, pork packing, fruit and vegetable canning are other branches in which great progress has been made.
The greatest development in fruit growing has taken place in the Niagara Peninsula. There is here a ridge of high land running through the whole district between which and Lake Ontario grapes are grown as a field crop, and peach trees are planted out in orchards. In this section of the Province fruit-growing is carried on as a business by itself, not merely as an adjunct to farming. The large quantities of fruitpeaches, grapes, pears, plums, etc., despatched from the district each season are the best testimony to the fitness of the climate and soil for fruit cultivation notwithstanding that there are adjacent such extensive markets as cities like Toronto and Hamilton. Attempts are being successfully made to place Canadian peaches on the English markets where the apples of Ontario have for so long enjoyed a ready sale.
The manufacturing industries of Canada are to a very large extent centred in Ontario, and by reason of the excellent position of the Province, the splendid railway and water transportation facilities, the almost unlimited supply of water-power and other advantages, it is safe to anticipate that they will continue to increase. Among the principal articles manufactured are furniture, sawn timber, wooden ware of all kinds, iron and steel, engines and locomotives, hardware, agricultural implements, sewing machines, cloth, linen, cotton and woollen goods, abrasive goods, boots and shoes, carriages and waggons, cement, food-stuffs, leather goods, paper, wood-pulp, etc.
The commercial fisheries constitute a useful source of food supply and offer a livelihood to a considerable number of fishermen. White-fish, herring, trout, bass, pickerel, pike and sturgeon are among the fish to be found in the Great Lakes, while in many parts of the Province there are innumerable angling rivers where the best of sport is to be enjoyed.
With the progress of settlement, the forest land of southern Ontario has disappeared, but in the northern parts of the province there is what might be regarded as an ” inexhaustible ” quantity of timber, which furnishes material for many of the industries of the province, and supplies the large wood pulp mills which have been established.
In view of the remarkable developments which have taken place since northern Ontario has been opened up, it is difficult to realise today that text books of only a few years ago asserted that mining was not an industry of the province. The nickel-copper mines of the Sudbury region which lies to the north of Georgian Bay yielded in 1909 over 450,000 tons of ore, and it is estimated that its contents were 13,141 tons of metallic nickel and 7,873 tons of metallic copper. The total production of silver from the Cobalt mines beginning with 1904, when the first shipments were made, down to 1909 is valued at nearly thirty-three million dollars, and as showing the rapid and recent progress of the mineral industry of the province, it may be mentioned that while the total production in 1905 was valued at 17,854,296 dollars, in 1909 the value had grown to nearly thirty-three million dollars for the year. Besides the valuable silver deposits at Cobalt and elsewhere, gold, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, iron pyrites, feldspar and Portland cement are among the mineral products of the Province, and as its resources become developed, with the opening up of new districts, it is certain that Ontario will occupy a leading position among the mineral producing countries of the world.
For those possessing some means Ontario offers great attractions in all branches of industry, while ” New Ontario ” is full of opportunity for the poor man of the right character.