Once constituted as a province, Ontario proceeded to assert its economic and legislative power. In 1872, the lawyer Oliver Mowat became premier and remained as premier until 1896. He fought for provincial rights, weakening the power of the federal government in provincial matters, usually through well-argued appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. His battles with the federal government greatly decentralized Canada, giving the provinces far more power than John A. Macdonald had intended. He consolidated and expanded Ontario's educational and provincial institutions, created districts in Northern Ontario, and fought to ensure that those parts of Northwestern Ontario not historically part of Upper Canada (the vast areas north and west of the Lake Superior-Hudson Bay watershed, known as the District of Keewatin) would become part of Ontario, a victory embodied in the Canada (Ontario Boundary) Act, 1889. He also presided over the emergence of the province into the economic powerhouse of Canada. Mowat was the creator of what is often called Empire Ontario.
Steep yourself in time-honoured traditions of an Aboriginal culture that's older than recorded time. Join in the spectacle of dramatic drums and colourful swirling dress at a Pow Wow celebration. Taste native fare such as bannock, traditional fried bread, corn soup or blueberry tea. Pay tribute to Kitche Manitou, the Great Spirit of Manitoulin Island. Hear ancient songs or listen to tales from an Elder on a Spirit Walk or gathered round a First Nations campfire. Wonder at the mysteries of ancient petroglyphs, figures and symbols carved into marble rock face or time travel to a reconstructed Aboriginal village to be welcomed by First Nations members in traditional regalia.
Celebrate Aboriginal culture, history and traditions during Ontario's Heritage Week held each year during the last week of February.
The name 'Ontario' is suggested to come from the Iroquois word 'Kanadario' meaning "sparkling water". The name seems fitting: not only is Ontario bordered on the south by the Great Lakes and on the north by Hudson Bay, but 177,390 km squared, or one sixth of its terrain, is covered by rivers and lakes. The province has a landmass of 1,068,580 square kilometres and is the second largest province in Canada. At its greatest extremity, Ontario is 690 km in width, with the longest distance north-to-south is 1,730 km. The highest point, at 693 metres above sea level, is in the District of Timiskaming, near Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park.
With over 12 million people, Ontario is by far the country's most heavily populated province. While English is the official language, Ontario's Francophones play an essential part of the province's cultural life. The provincial government provides services in French in those regions where the Francophone population is sufficiently high.
Ontario is Canada's most productive province, generating some 40% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Its manufacturing industries lead the way. Ontario's competitive advantages include its natural resources, modern transportation system, large, well-educated labour force, reliable and relatively inexpensive electrical power, and proximity to key U.S. markets: less than a day's drive puts Ontario's products within reach of 120 million American consumers.
Let your senses be awakened by a tapestry of bright green foliage, sweetly scented blossoms and magnificent stretches of brilliantly coloured daffodils, pansies and tulips. Celebrate with festivals and flower shows in greenhouses, arboretums and gardens of every size, shape and purpose. Combine history and horticulture on resplendent grounds adorned with old-fashioned roses, vibrant perennials and fragrant herbs reaching out for the summer sun. Take a winter holiday among hibiscus and banana trees in scores of conservatories. Whatever the season, discover so many beautiful reasons for visiting Ontario's endless array of floral havens.