Made in Canada
Ontario’s economic life began with its natural resources like fur, timber and minerals. Today, natural resources are still an important part of the economy in northern Ontario, while southern Ontario has become a manufacturing centre. Most Ontarians (70 per cent), however, are employed in the service industries such as business, finance, tourism and culture.
Minerals and Mining
The first commercial oil well in North America was drilled at Oil Springs in Ontario (near Sarnia) in 1858. Ontario produces more than $5 billion worth of minerals a year and ranks as the world’s second largest producer of nickel. Ontario is also an important producer of gold, copper, zinc, platinum, palladium, cobalt and silver, which come mainly from the Canadian Shield, which covers two-thirds of the province.
Ontario’s First Railroads
Agriculture and Forestry
Farming and forestry have always been an important part of Ontario’s economy. The province’s farming past is rich with stories of success, hardship, innovation and community spirit. From 1869, immigrants from the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States were drawn to Ontario by offers of free land and hope for a better future.
Manufacturing and Construction
Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and the next year arranged for vehicles to be manufactured in Windsor, Ontario, for the British Empire. A hundred years later, Ontario had become the leading vehicle-producing region in North America, with shipments worth $63 billion in 2003 and more than 2.5 million production units in 2005. Seven of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers operate 14 plants in Ontario.
Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. J.J.R. Macleod of the University of Toronto won the 1923 Nobel Prize in physiology for the discovery of insulin. Their discovery has allowed diabetics around the world to live longer, healthier lives.
Information and Technology
Home of the popular BlackBerry mobile communications device, Waterloo, Ontario, was recognized as the world’s most intelligent community in 2007. With Ottawa and Toronto, the City of Waterloo forms part of Canada’s “Technology Triangle” and is renowned for its strength in microelectronics, software and telecommunications. Ottawa was also named among the top seven finalists for the annual award of distinction.
Hospitality and Services
Three Ontario restaurants have won the coveted Five Diamond award, reserved for preferred restaurants and hotels that demonstrate the utmost in quality: Truffles, in the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, Langdon Hall in Cambridge, and Signatures by Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa. Discover even more of Ontario’s fine hospitality and services with Ontario's top historic downtowns or this wine explorations getaways.
Niagara’s Wine Festival attracts over half a million visitors annually to its celebration of the fall harvest. If you can’t make it in time, or you would like to avoid the crowds, you could always follow the Ontario wine route in your own time. While you’re about it, you might want to investigate Ontario’s cheese producers. Ontario cheesemakers are now making over 30 unique goat’s milk and sheep’s milk cheeses at locations throughout the province, as well as many traditional cheeses.
Timmins is best known as the home of pop singer Shania Twain. It’s also famous for having produced more gold than any other place in North America!
As a newcomer to Ontario, you may have many questions. The Province of Ontario has many services and programs to help you find the answers, information and support you need to succeed.
The one-dollar coin is called the “Loonie” because of the image of a loon on one side. When the two-dollar coin was minted, Canadians called it the “Toonie.” The Common Loon was declared as the official bird of Ontario in 1994. Learn about Ontario’s other emblems and symbols and what they mean.