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Exploring Ontario

Traditions And Customs

The people of Ontario share many cultures and traditions from around the world. Newcomers bring new customs from their homelands, and often keep these customs alive in their own communities. They also enjoy becoming a part of Ontario, and learning about what it means to be a Canadian.

Celebrating Canada

Canadians commemorate their country’s birthday every year on July 1. Canada Day is a celebration of Confederation in 1867, when the British North America Act united Ontario with three other provinces to form the Dominion of Canada. Dominion Day was renamed Canada Day in 1982. Celebrate Canada! is an eleven-day celebration which takes place from June 21 to July 1.

Ontario celebrates the bounty of the harvest at over 230 colourful fall fairs across the province - highlighting everything from fresh fruit and fiddle playing to pumpkin contests and ploughing matches.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in Canada falls on the second Monday in October. It’s a day Canadians say thanks for the good life Canada has to offer. Thanksgiving Day was first recorded in Canada in 1799. In the days of the Dominion, Thanksgiving has also marked celebrations of the British royalty. Most often, thanks are given for an abundant harvest and “the blessings with which the people of Canada have been favoured.”

Remembering Our Heroes

One day every year, Canadians remember those who died in service to their country. We remember, on November 11, these brave men and women for their courage and their devotion in the face of extreme hardship. In Canada, we wear poppies, attend ceremonies and visit memorials. And we also remember why we must work for peace every day of the year. Learn more about Canada’s role in the Second World War.

When Ottawa’s famous Rideau Canal freezes, it becomes the world’s longest skating rink, stretching eight kilometres.

Festival of Ice

From “Snofest” and “Winterfest Snowball” to “Winterlude” and “Winterlicious,” there’s no end to the winter festivals across Ontario. From ice sculptures to ice climbing, snowmobiling to snow sledding, Canadians have many ways to enjoy winter. You can watch the Senators or the Maple Leafs on the television show, Hockey Night in Canada. Or, discover the long tradition of hockey in Canada.

Summer Escapades

To remember Queen Victoria (1819-1901), Ontario celebrates the former British queen’s birthday on May 24 with a public holiday every year. Victoria Day also signals the unofficial beginning of summer. Traditionally, this means the start of cottage season and camping, watersports and weekends away at Lake Simcoe, the Muskoka’s or Georgian Bay.

Ontario’s First Nations and their celebration of Thanksgiving before the arrival of the European settlers.

Ontario’s First Nations have been celebrating their own Thanksgiving since long before the arrival of European settlers. The Iroquois, or Haudenosaunee, for example, offer a thanksgiving prayer at harvest time every year.

Explore Ontario: Be a Tourist in Your New Home

Ontario has something for everyone. It’s a big province with lots to see and do in both summer and winter. Become a tourist in your new home. Explore Ontario.

Ontario Welcomes You

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.

Fun Facts and Figures

The Underground Railroad is neither a railroad nor underground. It’s the name of the network of people who hid and guided American slaves and refugees to freedom in Canada during the 1800s. Following the northward flow of rivers, or old military trails, or weaving from one secret location to another, thousands of formerly enslaved Africans arrived to stake their claim for liberty. Learn more.