Ontario -


T
oronto skyline, with Skydome and CN Tower

Regions

• National Capital Region
• Niagara Region
• Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
• Muskoka and Haliburton
• Ottawa Valley
• Northern Ontario
• Eastern Ontario
• Central Ontario
• Southwestern Ontario
• Golden Horseshoe

Climate

Ontario has three main climatic regions. Most of Southwestern Ontario, plus the lower parts of the Golden Horseshoe, has a moderate humid continental climate similar to that of the inland Mid-Atlantic States and the lower Great Lakes portion of the U.S. Midwest. The region has hot, humid summers and cold winters. It is considered a temperate climate when compared with most of Canada.

The more northern and windward parts of Southern Ontario, plus all of Central and Eastern Ontario and the southern parts of Northern Ontario, have a more severe humid continental climate. This region has warm to hot summers (although somewhat shorter than in Southwestern Ontario) with cold and somewhat longer winters and a shorter growing season.

The northernmost parts of Ontario - primarily north of 50°N - have a subarctic climate with long, very cold winters and short, warm summers. Dramatic temperature changes are not uncommon.


Marching off Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Drink

The Niagara region, home to Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake, is Ontario's wine-production region.

The Vinters Quality Association (VQA) is an association of wineries that provide insight into the quality of Ontario wines. When purchasing wine made in Ontario, look for a "VQA" logo on the bottle - this tells you the wine has been approved by the association. Keep in mind that the lack of certification does not necessarily mean a poor wine. Although a matter of opinion, most experts generally don't hold Ontario wines in the same light as their European counterparts.

Beaches

Visit one of Ontario's freshwater sandy beaches: Wasaga Beach, Sauble Beach or Grand Bend in Southern Ontario; Pancake Bay Provincial Park in Northern Ontario. Also visit these Ontario Parks for great beaches: Sandbanks, Lake Superior, Awenda, Charleston Lake, and the Pinery.

Get out

Quebec, to the east, is the nearest populated area of Canada and is an interesting contrast to Ontario.

Lake Erie Tour Route and Lighthouses: The drive (or boat ride) around Lake Erie takes you through the Working Waterfronts around Buffalo, New York, Cleveland Ohio, Detroit Michigan, Erie Pennsylvania, Toledo, OH, and southern Ontario. The trip is intermingled with beautiful preservations of flora and fauna as well as the history of North America's first westward expansion, the Old Northwest Territory.

 

Ontario is a province located in the east-central part of Canada. It's the largest by population and second largest, after Quebec, in total area. Ontario is borders the provinces of Manitoba to the west, Quebec to the east, and the American states of Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota to the south.

Most of Ontario's borders with the United States are natural, including Lake of the Woods and continuing through the four Great Lakes: Superior, Huron (and Georgian Bay), Erie, and Ontario. Ontario is also the only Canadian Province that borders the Great Lakes.

The capital of Ontario is Toronto, the largest city in Canada. Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is also located in Ontario.

The province takes its name from Lake Ontario, which is thought to be derived from ontarν:io, a Huron word meaning "great lake". Other theories suggest the Iroquoian work skanadario, which means "beautiful water". Ontario, along with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec, was one of Canada's four original provinces when the nation was formed on July 1, 1867.

Get in

By plane
Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport, airport code YYZ, is the province's largest airport. The airport is a major hub for most Canadian air carriers as well as oversea and US flights.

Ottawa also houses an international airport for destinations in Eastern Ontario and the Ottawa Valley. Fewer flights overseas are offered than Toronto but the number continues to increase. Many American hubs also have daily direct flights to Ottawa.

For travel to Northwestern Ontario or the North of Superior region, Thunder Bay International Airport is your best bet. Air Canada offers direct flights from Toronto and Winnipeg, while Westjet departs from Hamilton and Winnipeg.

By car
Chances are, you'll be driving the TransCanada Highway, either on Highway 17 or Highway 11. The 17 follows a more Southerly route, hugging Lake Superior, while the 11 ventures Northward at North Bay, heading through a slightly less populous region of the province, before going south. Do note that the 11 and 17 come together in the Thunder Bay region. To the west, the 11 ends at Rainy River and the USA, while 17 leads up to Manitoba.

If you're coming from Quebec, the southern routes are the TransCanada Highways 20 and 40. The 20 connects to Highway 401 (a direct route to Toronto) and the 40 connects to Highway 417 (heading to Ottawa). If your intentions are Northerly, the Ottawa route is the most direct.

TransCanada Highway 1 is about the only option from Manitoba. It connects to the 17 in Ontario.

NOTE: Even by car, you will be unable to access the Northern half of Ontario. Roads are the exception, not the rule, and you will rely on plane and train nearly anywhere north of Lake Nipigon.

By train
Via Rail Canada
is the most common way to enter Ontario from within Canada. It is not unheard of to arrive from the USA by train, but the customs waits between the USA and Canada are no different than car or plane.

The big exception to the above is if your destination is Northern Ontario (as in Fort Albany, Moosonee or Polar Bear Provincial Park). Train services to these areas are your only options.

By bus
Greyhound Canada
travels to nearly 1,100 towns and cities in Canada, via 400 coaches during peak travel periods. As well, Coach Canada is another big bus service that runs in partnership with Trentway Wagar Lines.

Get around

By car
The 400-Series Highways make up the primary vehicular network in the south and connect to numerous US border crossings. The busiest is the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. The primary highway along the southern route is Highway 401, the world's busiest highway, while the primary highways across the northern route is Highway 417 and Highway 17. Both are part of the Trans-Canada Highway. Highway 400 connects Toronto to Northern Ontario.

By bus
Within the Greater Toronto Area (which includes a large portion of the area around Toronto), GO Transit is the best mode of public transit between cities and towns in this region. Fees vary by location but are quite reasonable. Unfortunately, government cutbacks have caused many direct buses to be done away with, so expect numerous stops.

By train
Within Southern Ontario's Greater Toronto Area, GO Transit is a convenient and fast way to travel. Most trains run during early and late rush hour periods.

Attractions

 • CN Tower, 301 Front Street West, Toronto, (416) 868-6937. Ever wondered how Toronto looks from 342 metres above ground? How about 447 metres? The world's tallest observation deck is a few stairs up from the 360 Degrees Restaurant and Horizons Bar. Both offer spectacular views of Canada's hub city and its waterfront.
 • Parliament Hill, Wellington Street, Ottawa, 1-800-622-6263. Canada's political landscape is shaped at Parliament Hill. Here, you'll find Canada's Members of Parliament, Senate and House of Commons - all of which are accessible through tours. Admission is free. 
 • Old Fort William, Thunder Bay. A historical fort with the best historical reenactments available in Ontario.
• Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, 1.5 hours north of Toronto on Hwy. 12, (705) 526-7838. French Jesuits settled here for 10 years until they fled in 1649 after attacks from the Iroquois.
 • Gatineau Park, 40 Elgin Street, Ottawa, (819) 827-2020. This is worth the five-minute drive outside the city of Ottawa. The park is captured by an old growth forest and offers a diverse selection of lakes, lookouts, and nature trails.  
 • Eaton Center, 220 Yonge Street, Toronto, (416) 598-8700. In a shopping mood? With five levels, 320 stores, restaurants and arcades, the Eaton Center is sure to cure your consumer craving. Mon-Fri: 10am-9pm; Sat: 9am-7pm; Sun: noon-6pm.
 • Hockey Hall of Fame, 30 Yonge Street, Toronto, (416) 360-7765. Hockey's shrine showcases more than the game's greats. You can also test your hockey skills, knowledge and take a picture with the Stanley Cup.
 • Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe Street, Toronto. Spectacular as it is entertaining, the hall has featured some of the top talents from around the world. It is also home to Canada's Walk of Fame.
 
• Skylon Tower, Niagara Falls. The tall tower has an observation deck and revolving restaurant with a great view of the falls. Arcade games are available in the tower's base.
 • Rideau Canal, 1125 Colonial Bay Drive, Ottawa, 1-800-230-0016. During winter, the canal is the "World's Longest Skating Rink". In summer, it's a passageway for various boats and rowers. 

Niagara Falls

 • Niagara Falls. Split into two sections by the Canadian-American border, Horseshoe Falls and American Falls culminate to create one of the world's seven wonders. You have to experience it to believe it.
 •  Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls.  Get up close and personal with the falls on with a boat ride to the foot of nature's biggest wonder. Good thing it only runs in the summer because you get wet, though ponchos are provided. 
 • Nightly Illumination of the Falls, Niagara Falls. The nightly lightshow illuminates the already spectacular falls with a number of different colors and patterns. The event can be viewed from anywhere around the falls.

Amusement Parks

 • Ontario Place, 955 Lakeshore Boulevard, Toronto, (416) 314-9900 or 1-866-ONE-4-FUN. Kids can't get enough of Toronto's biggest amusement park. But waterslides and futuristic rides aren't the only draw. A 16,000-seat Amphitheatre sees its share of summer concerts.
 • Paramount Canada's Wonderland, 9580 Jane Street, Vaughn, (905) 832-8131. Thrill-seekers are drawn here like a compass to the North Pole. With 200 rides, 65 of the thrill variety, you barely have time to catch your breath. This is Canada's version of Disney.

Museums

 • Canadian War Museum, LeBreton Flats, Ottawa, 1-800-555-562. Canada's sacrifices in war are not forgotten. Artifacts, exhibits and displays pay tribute to the men and women of Canada's armed forces. 
 • Museum of Civilization, 100 Laurier Street, Ottawa, (819) 776-7000. Just a stone's throw away from Parliament Hill are more than 3.5 million exhibits and artifacts of historical and cultural significance. An IMAX theatre also displays movies but costs extra.
 
• Canada Science and Technology Museum, 1867 St. Laurent Boulevard, Ottawa, (613) 991-3044. If the kids are pushing your buttons, drop them off here. They'll have their hands full and so will you with the most innovative and unique exhibits of science and technology in Canada.
 • Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, (416) 979-6660. Located in Toronto's Chinatown district, the museum features some of the finest art in Canada. Wed-Fri: noon-9pm; Sat-Sun: 10am-5:40pm.
 • McMaster Museum of Art, 1280 Main Street, Hamilton, (905) 525-9140 ext. 23081. Houses a nationally significant collection of more than 6,000 works of art, featuring a permanent collection and contemporary exhibitions, lectures and events.
 • Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology, Hamilton. This National Historic Site houses the two 45-foot high, 70-ton steam engines which pumped the first clean water to the city over 140 years ago. Features various exhibits and events, including daily
 • Science North, 100 Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, 1-800-461-4898. The science education centre is built atop an ancient earthquake fault on the shore of Lake Ramsey. Its distinctive snowflake shape has become one of Sudbury's famous landmarks. Features include an IMAX theatre, a butterfly gallery, a robotics lab, and interactive exhibits.
 • Bata Shoe Museum, 327 Bloor Street West, Toronto, (416) 979-7799. For shoe lovers, this is paradise. More than 10,000 pairs (that's 20,000 shoes!) are on display for your enjoyment.  

Activities

Hiking
 
• Historic Nipissing Road. Now part of the Trans Canada Trail, you can drive the road as well as hike it.
 • The Sleeping Giant. A series of mesas that resemble a human figure, near Thunder Bay.
 • Hike the Bruce Trail (or portions of it) from Niagara to Tobermory.
 • Visit and hike through Temagami's Old Growth Forest. Climb the Fire Tower and canoe Lake Temagami.

Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License


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