Geography of Ontario

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Geography of Ontario
Map ont.jpg
Continent North America
Region North America
Eastern Canada
Central Canada
Coordinates 49°15′0″N 84°29′59″W / 49.25000°N 84.49972°W / 49.25000; -84.49972
Area
 • Total 917,741 km2 (354,342 sq mi)
 • Land 85.3%
 • Water 14.7%
Coastline 3,840 km (2,390 mi)
Borders Total land borders: U.S. states Michigan, New York, Minnesota; Canadian provinces Manitoba and Quebec
Highest point Ishpatina Ridge
693 m
Lowest point Hudson Bay
sea level
Longest river Albany River
980 km
Largest lake Lake Superior
28,700 km² (11,080 mi²)
(Canadian portion only)

Ontario is located in East/Central Canada, bordered by the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay and James Bay. It is Canada's second largest province in total land area. The largest border is with the Canadian province of Manitoba to the west for approximately 1,025 km (637 mi) along longitude 95°50′W to latitude 53°N then a line to Hudson Bay, then the province of Quebec to the east, mostly along longitude 79°30′W (for about 430 km) and the Ottawa River from Lake Timiskaming (for about 620 km). Ontario also shares borders with the U.S. states of Minnesota to the west for 685 km (426 mi) across the Pigeon River, Lakes Saganaga, Basswood, Lac la Croix, Rainy Lake, the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods; New York for 309 km (192 mi) along Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence and Niagara rivers, and Michigan to the south-west for 1,160 km (720 mi) largely across Lakes St. Clair, Huron and Superior. It is also located north of Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania, across Lake Erie.

Ontario's long American border is formed almost entirely by lakes and rivers, starting in Lake of the Woods and continuing to the Saint Lawrence River near Cornwall; it passes through the four Great Lakes Ontario shares with bordering states, namely Lakes Superior, Huron (which includes Georgian Bay), Erie, and Ontario (for which the province is named; the name Ontario itself is a corruption of the Iroquois word Onitariio, meaning "beautiful lake", or Kanadario, variously translated as "beautiful water"). There are approximately 250,000 lakes and over 100,000 kilometres (62,000 mi) of rivers in the province.

Almost 94% of the population is concentrated within Southern Ontario, where the population was over 12,100,000 in the 2006 census. The Golden Horseshoe is the most populous part of Southern Ontario with a population of 8,102,163.[1]

Ontario is also a popular tourist destination; Niagara Falls, Parliament Hill, and the CN Tower are the most notable attractions.

Population[edit]

Ontario is the most populous province in Canada. Southern Ontario is one of the most dense regions in the country. The north is vast and sparse compared to the south. Ottawa (the nation's capital) is located in Ontario bordering Quebec. Located within the Golden Horseshoe, Toronto is the capital of Ontario, the financial centre of Canada, and the country's most populous city.

Ontario is the second-most urbanized province after British Columbia, with 85.9% of the population living in urban areas.[2]

Population by Statistical Area Classification[3]
Statistical Area Classification 2011 Census 2006 Census Change
Population  % of total Population  % of total
Within CMAs 10,270,006 79.9% 9,591,529 78.9% Increase7.1%
Within CAs 1,133,127 8.8% 1,128,614 9.3% Increase0.4%
Total CMA/CA 11,403,133 88.7% 10,720,143 88.2% Increase6.4%
Strongly influenced 644,299 5.0% 631,410 5.2% Increase2.0%
Moderately influenced 555,931 4.3% 554,062 4.5% Increase0.3%
Weakly influenced 225,197 1.8% 232,107 1.9% Decrease3.0%
Not influenced 23,261 0.2% 22,560 0.2% Increase3.1%
Outside CMA/CA 1,448,688 11.3% 1,440,139 11.8% Increase0.6%
Total 12,851,821 100.0% 12,160,282 100.0% Increase5.7%
10 largest Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) by population
CMA (largest other included municipalities in brackets) 2011[4] 2006 2001
Toronto CMA (Mississauga, Brampton) 5,583,064 5,113,149 4,682,897
Ottawa CMA (Gatineau, Clarence-Rockland, Russell) 1,236,324 1,130,761 1,063,664
Hamilton CMA (Burlington, Grimsby) 721,053 692,911 662,401
Kitchener CMA (Cambridge, Waterloo) 477,160 451,235 414,284
London CMA (St. Thomas, Strathroy-Caradoc) 474,786 457,720 435,600
St. Catharines–Niagara CMA (Niagara Falls, Welland) 392,184 390,317 377,009
Oshawa CMA (Whitby, Clarington) 356,177 330,594 296,298
Windsor CMA (Lakeshore, LaSalle) 319,246 323,342 307,877
Barrie CA (Innisfil, Springwater) 187,013 177,061 148,480
Greater Sudbury CMA (Whitefish Lake & Wahnapitae Reserves) 160,770 158,258 155,601
The Toronto skyline seen from Toronto Harbour
10 largest municipalities by population
City 2011[5] 2006 2001
Toronto (provincial capital) 2,615,060 2,503,281 2,481,494
Ottawa (national capital) 883,391 812,129 808,391
Mississauga 713,443 668,549 612,925
Brampton 523,911 433,806 325,428
Hamilton 519,949 504,559 499,268
London 366,151 352,395 336,539
Markham 301,709 261,573 208,615
Vaughan 288,301 238,866 182,022
Kitchener 219,153 204,668 190,399
Windsor 210,891 216,473 208,402

Physical geography[edit]

Relief of Ontario

Southwestern Ontario and a narrow strip along the coast of the Saint Lawrence River are in the Mixedwood Plains, a fertile and productive ecozone that is typically flat with rolling hills, and was once covered by forest before its use for agriculture, and later urbanization, resulted in deforestation of vast swaths of the area. To its north is the Boreal Shield, the largest provincial ecozone, extending from south-central Ontario to cover most of northern Ontario, where it abuts the Hudson Plains. The Northwestern Ontario portion of this area is part of the Midwestern Canadian Shield forests ecoregion of boreal forest that spreads east through Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The plains that cover the heartland of Ontario are a transitional ecozone characterized by boreal features in the south and tundra landscapes in the north. This extends the entire range of the northern coast of Ontario with Hudson Bay and James Bay, at which numerous wetlands act as staging and nesting grounds for migratory birds. The waters of the two bays are in the Arctic Archipelago Marine ecozone, forming its southern, subarctic extent.

Geology[edit]

Ontario, owing to its size has diverse geology that varies in structure, age, and lithology. About 61% of the province is covered by the Canadian Shield, mostly with Precambrian rock.[6] These rocks contain large mineral deposits that are vital to the economy of northern Ontario. The shield can further be divided into three sections. The northwestern parts of the Shield in Ontario, located roughly north and west of Sudbury is known as the Superior Province.[6] The Superior Province is the largest of the three regions of the Canadian Shield portion founded in Ontario, covering about 70% of the Shield portion in Ontario.[7] This region is more than 2.5 billion years old and is composed of felsic intrusive rocks.[6] In the northernmost parts of the Superior Province, the geology of the region is dominated by granite and gneiss rocks.[7] The central region of the Shield, known as the Grenville Province, located south of Sudbury is 1.0 to 1.6 billons yeard old and is dominated by sedimentary rocks showing evidence of being subjected to metamorphism.[6] It makes up about 20% of the Canadian Shield in Ontario. These rocks were metamorphosed between 990 million years ago and 1.08 billion years ago. The third region, known as the Southern province which is a narrow region from Sault Ste. Marie to Kirkland Lake is made of rocks dating 1.8 to 2.4 billion years ago.[6] The Hudson Bay lowlands, located north of the Canadian Shield is mainly made of sedimentary rocks from the Silurian Period although some parts date from the Ordovician and Devonian periods.[6] This area covers 25% of the province. Most of bedrock in the Hudson Bay lowlands are composed of limestone and carbonate-dominated sedimentary rock.[8]

Boundaries[edit]

Most of Ontario's boundary lines consist of lakes and rivers: the Ottawa River and St. Lawrence to the east; the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Niagara River and the Great Lakes to the south; and Hudson Bay to the north. Between Lake Superior and Lake of the Woods, Ontario's border with the U.S. state of Minnesota is formed by the Pigeon and Rainy rivers and their tributaries. In fact, along Ontario's 2700 km border with the United States, only about 1 km is on land, whereas the northern portion of its border with the province of Quebec is on land and the border with the province of Manitoba is predominantly on land.[9] Ontario's neighbours are: Quebec, Manitoba, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Elevation[edit]

An extensive amount of land to the south and west shores of James Bay and Hudson Bay are low and swampy. The height of the land in North-east and North-west; generally north of Lake Superior is the Canadian Shield where most of Ontario's highest points are found.

Further south, many hilltops of the Algonquin, Haliburton and Madawaska Highlands, which are also part of the shield that covers much of the north, surpass altitudes of 500m (1640').

The highest areas in the southern portion of the province are found in Dufferin, Grey and the western side of Simcoe counties, where the elevation ranges from 430m (1,400') to 540m (1,750'). Much of the higher land sits atop the Niagara Escarpment in a generally flat area known as the Dundalk Highlands. Just to the south, in Wellington and Waterloo County, general elevations are from 300m (1,000') to 400m (1,300'). A striking topographical feature of the Niagara Escarpment are its limestone cliff faces, in general between 80m (250') to 100 (330') above the surrounding land, extending from the Niagara peninsula northwest to the Bruce Peninsula.[10]

The flattest areas of the province outside of the lowlands of the far north are found in southwestern and eastern Ontario.

Water[edit]

Niagara Falls, one of Ontario's most noted tourist destination and a source for hydroelectricity

Ontario is known for the large number of lakes and rivers it contains. About one-third of the world's fresh water can be found in Ontario.[11] Ontario is also known for being the only province in Canada that touches the Great Lakes. Ontario touches four of the Great Lakes: Huron, Lake Ontario (the province is named after the lake), Erie and Superior.

More recently, Ontario's vast rivers and lakes have made possible hydroelectric power, mills and the more forms of industrialization. Most of Ontario is fed by rainfall, and in most parts snow is relied on. Precipitation is most common in the southern and central parts of Ontario where variations between winter and summer or spring and fall are not especially great; but winter and spring are less aqueous than in northern and northwestern Ontario.[12]

Climate[edit]

Ontario has three main climatic regions;

Southwestern/Southern Ontario[edit]

Köppen climate classification Dfa: Southwestern Ontario, the cities of Windsor, London and the southern/western section of the Golden Horseshoe region including Hamilton, Niagara, Oakville and the city of Toronto, have a moderate humid continental climate, similar to that of the inland Mid-Atlantic and the lower Great Lakes portion of the Midwestern United States. The region has warm, humid summers and cold, usually moist winters. Extreme heat and cold usually occur for short periods. It is considered a temperate climate when compared with the remainder of continental Canada, excluding coastal areas. In the fall and winter, temperatures are moderated by the delayed cooling of the Great Lakes, this effect reversed in spring and summer when afternoon warming is tempered. The lakes' moderating effects allow for a longer growing season than areas at similar latitudes in the continent's interior, some areas exceed 200 frost-free days and have an annual mean temperature of 10°C (50°F). Both spring and fall generally consist of mild days and cool nights but are prone to drastic temperature changes over a short timespan. Annual precipitation ranges from 75–110 cm (30–43 in) and is well distributed throughout the year with a usual summer peak. Upland areas in this region have cooler conditions, generally more precipitation (especially snowfall) putting them into the Dfb climate scheme. Most of this region lies in the lee of the Great Lakes making for abundant snow in some areas (London, Goderich for example) over 2 m (79") while some other areas are not in the direct snowbelt and receive closer to an average of 1 m (39") of snow per year.

One recent storm in Lucan between December 1–3, 2010 dropped 170 cm (67") of snow during a 72-hour storm.

Central/Eastern Ontario[edit]

Köppen climate classification Dfb: The second climatic zone covers the northern half of Southern Ontario, including the northern and more elevated parts of the Golden Horseshoe, Central and Eastern Ontario (includes Ottawa). Also included is the southern reaches of Northern Ontario, including the cities of Sudbury and North Bay, which have a more severe humid continental climate. This region has warm and sometimes hot summers (although shorter in length than Southwestern Ontario) with cold, longer winters with roughly equal annual precipitation as the south. Along the eastern shores of Lake Superior and Lake Huron (Georgian Bay), frequent heavy lake-effect snow squalls increase seasonal snowfall totals upwards of 3 m (120 in). Such conditions and the absence of long stretches of brutal cold make for excellent winter recreation.

Northern Ontario[edit]

Köppen climate classification Dfc: The northernmost parts of Ontario—primarily north of 50°N and with no major cities in the area—have a subarctic climate (Köppen) with long, severely cold winters and short, cool to warm summers with dramatic temperature changes possible in all seasons. In summer, hot weather occasionally reaches even the northernmost parts of Ontario for brief periods, although humidity is generally lower than in the south. With no major mountain ranges blocking sinking Arctic air masses, temperatures of −40 °C (−40.0 °F) are not uncommon. The snow stays on the ground much longer in here than other regions of Ontario; snow cover is usually present to some extent between October and May.

Severe weather[edit]

Severe and non-severe thunderstorms peak in frequency from June through August but occur at any time during the warmer season. Thunderstorms form from daytime convective heating and frontal activity, in the south, lake breeze convergences also intensify storms. Another severe type of thunderstorm is known as a Mesocyclonic Convective Complex or Derecho, which is a larger cluster-type thunderstorm mass with a more or less circular shape, often with a pronounced bow shape at its front or leading edge. During periods of hot weather in summer, they often develop in the afternoon west of the Great Lakes but strike Southern and Central Ontario at night with great forward motion, bringing severe straight-line winds over wide areas resulting in damage to forests, power interruption and infrastructure damage. The areas with the highest severe weather frequency in the province are Southwestern (Windsor,Chatham, Stratford corridor) and Central Ontario (Simcoe County including the city of Barrie, Lake Simcoe and the Kawartha Lakes region), both areas often get amplified storms resulting from the Lake Breeze Front convergence. London has the most lightning strikes per year in Canada, averaging 34 days of thunderstorm activity per year. In typical year, Ontario averages 15 confirmed tornado touchdowns, they are rarely destructive (the vast majority are classified as F0 or F1 on the Fujita scale). In Northern Ontario, some tornadoes go undetected by ground spotters because of the sparse population and remote landscape; they are often discovered after the fact by aircraft pilots, where aerial observations of damaged forest confirm occurrences. All of Northern Ontario north of a line from Lake Nipigon to Timmins has no weather radar coverage by Environment Canada making it difficult to detect tornadoes in far northern Ontario when they occur. Tropical depression remnants can cause copious rains and winds in the south, but are rarely deadly. Notable exceptions were Hurricane Hazel in October 1954.

Climate charts[edit]

Windsor
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
58
 
−1
−8
 
 
57
 
1
−7
 
 
75
 
6
−2
 
 
85
 
13
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81
 
21
9
 
 
90
 
25
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82
 
28
17
 
 
80
 
27
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96
 
23
12
 
 
65
 
16
6
 
 
76
 
8
1
 
 
75
 
2
−5
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [13]
Toronto
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
61
 
−1
−7
 
 
51
 
0
−6
 
 
66
 
5
−2
 
 
70
 
11
4
 
 
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25
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83
 
21
13
 
 
65
 
14
7
 
 
76
 
7
2
 
 
71
 
2
−4
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [14]
Ottawa
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
64
 
−6
−15
 
 
52
 
−4
−13
 
 
65
 
2
−7
 
 
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11
−1
 
 
81
 
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24
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25
14
 
 
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20
9
 
 
79
 
13
3
 
 
79
 
5
−3
 
 
77
 
−3
−11
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [15]
Sudbury
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
69
 
−8
−19
 
 
51
 
−6
−17
 
 
66
 
0
−10
 
 
65
 
9
−2
 
 
78
 
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25
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91
 
23
12
 
 
101
 
17
7
 
 
82
 
10
2
 
 
77
 
2
−5
 
 
67
 
−5
−14
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [16]
Thunder Bay
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
31
 
−9
−21
 
 
25
 
−6
−18
 
 
42
 
0
−11
 
 
42
 
9
−3
 
 
67
 
16
3
 
 
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21
7
 
 
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24
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88
 
23
10
 
 
88
 
17
5
 
 
63
 
10
−1
 
 
56
 
2
−8
 
 
38
 
−6
−17
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [17]
Moosonee
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
34
 
−14
−27
 
 
23
 
−11
−26
 
 
32
 
−4
−19
 
 
39
 
4
−9
 
 
54
 
13
0
 
 
71
 
19
5
 
 
101
 
22
9
 
 
76
 
21
8
 
 
90
 
15
4
 
 
73
 
8
−1
 
 
54
 
−1
−9
 
 
35
 
−11
−22
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [18]
Big Trout Lake
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
23
 
−19
−29
 
 
21
 
−14
−27
 
 
28
 
−6
−21
 
 
32
 
3
−9
 
 
38
 
12
0
 
 
74
 
17
7
 
 
91
 
21
11
 
 
88
 
20
10
 
 
83
 
12
4
 
 
53
 
4
−2
 
 
50
 
−6
−13
 
 
29
 
−16
−25
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [19]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The population of communities in the Golden Horseshoe.
  2. ^ Canada's rural population since 1851
  3. ^ Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories by the Statistical Area Classification, 2011 and 2006 censuses
  4. ^ Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2011 and 2006 censuses - Ontario
  5. ^ Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2011 and 2006 censuses - Ontario
  6. ^ a b c d e f Baldwin, David; Desloges, Joseph; Band, Lawrence. "Physical Geography of Ontario". Retrieved February 9. 
  7. ^ a b Percival, J.; Easton, R. "Geology of the Canadian Shield in Ontario: An Update". Ontario Geological Survey. Geological Survey of Canada. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Hudson Bay Lowlands". Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  9. ^ Canada/United States International Boundary Commission (2006). "Height of land portage (p.21)". Durham University. Retrieved 2007-02-26. 
  10. ^ Book: A conspectus of the Province of Ontario
  11. ^ Water Geography information.
  12. ^ [1] The Canadian Encyclopedia, Geography information of Ontario.
  13. ^ Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000 (Windsor)
  14. ^ Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000 (Toronto)
  15. ^ Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000 (Ottawa City)
  16. ^ Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000 (Sudbury)
  17. ^ Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000 (Thunder Bay)
  18. ^ Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000 (Moosonee)
  19. ^ Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000 (Big Trout Lake)

External links[edit]