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Ontario, the most populous and wealthy province of Canada, has an area of 140,000,000 acres, exclusive of the Great Lakes, of which approximately 24,700,000 acres have been sold, 115,300,000 remaining vested in the Crown. It is bounded on the south and south-west by Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, and Superior, with their connecting waters, and Minnesota : on the north-east by Quebec, and the Ottawa River; on the north by James Bay; on the north-west by Keewatin ; and on the west by Manitoba. It is probable that a large part of Keewatin will soon be added to the province. Old Ontario (lying between the Ottawa River, the St. Lawrence River, and Lakes Ontario, Erie, and Huron ) is well settled and cultivated: New Ontario, lying north and west is sparsely inhabited.

CLIMATE

Moderate near the Great Lakes, subject to extremes of heat and cold in the north and north-west, the climate is everywhere healthful, the extremes being of short duration and easily endured owing to the dryness of the atmosphere inland.

HISTORICAL INCIDENTS

Held by France up to 1763, Quebec, including Ontario, was then ceded to Great Britain. Visited by Champlain in 1615, explored by French missionaries and voyageurs, it had been the scene of frightful Indian wars, and massacres, and of the martyrdom in 1649 of the Jesuits, Brébeuf and Lalemant. Except for missionaries and their entourage, trappers, soldiers in some isolated posts and a few settlers on the Detroit and Ottawa Rivers and near the Georgian Bay, Ontario in 1763 was an uninhabited wilderness roamed over by Ojibways and remnants of the Hurons and Algonquins. After the American War of Independence many colonial adherents of the British Crown crossed to Upper Canada. In 1786 some 4487 of them were settled on the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario. For twenty years immigration from the United States was extensive. With accessions from Ireland, Scotland, and England, it brought the population in 1806 up to 70,000. This was the nucleus of the Province of Ontario. In 1791 Upper Canada (Ontario) was separated from Quebec and given its own governor and legislature, which first met in 1792 at Newark, now Niagara-on-the-Lake. The laws of England were then introduced. In 1797 the capital was moved to York (Toronto). In 1812 Upper Canada sustained the brunt of the war between Great Britain and the United States and was the scene of several noted battles, Queenston Heights, Lundy's Lane, etc. In 1837 abuses by the dominant party and irresponsible executives provoked a rebellion in Upper and Lower Canada, which resulted in their union and the establishment of responsible government in 1841. In 1866 Fenian raids from the United States were successfully repelled. Difficulties of administration due largely to racial differences led to confederation in 1867, Upper Canada becoming a distinct province under the name of Ontario. Subsequent growth has been rapid; population has nearly doubled; known wealth has increased many fold; and development of industries and resources has been enormous.

POPULATION

The last census (1901) gives the population as 2,182,947. Municipal assessment returns for 1909 place it as 2,289,438, of which 1,049,240 was rural, 515,078 dwelt in towns and villages, and 725,120 in cities. The Ontario Department of Agriculture considers that the actual population exceeds these figures by 10 per cent. On this basis the population in 1909 is estimated at 2,518,362.

CITIES

The principal cities, with their estimated populations are: Toronto, the provincial capital, 360,000; Ottawa, the capital of Canada, 90,000; Hamilton, 77ú London, 55,000; Brantford, 22,750; Kingston, 21,000; Fort William, 20,000.

AGRICULTURE

In 1909 the value of farms, implements and live stock was $1,241,019,109; field crops were worth $167,966,577, hay and clover, oats, wheat, barley, corn, potatoes, peas, and mixed grains being the principal items; dairy produce was officially estimated at $31,000,000; live stock on hand was valued at $184,747,900, sold or slaughtered at $64,464,923. Peaches and grapes, grown chiefly in the south-west, are a large industry. The average yearly value of the apple crop for the years 1901-05 was $8,671,275. In 1910 the Government Agricultural College at Guelph had 975 students; the Macdonald Institute for farmers' daughters, 411. The Government maintains experimental farms and liberally aids agricultural institutes. 24,000,000 acres are now under cultivation.

MINING

The province is rich in minerals of various kinds. The figures given are for 1908, when mining products realized $39,232,814. The most important nickel deposits in America are in the Sudbury district, producing 18,636 tons, about 80 per cent of the world's output. Iron occurs in various places (principally hæmatite at Michipicoten on Lake Superior) yielding 231,453 tons. The output of gold bullion is 3246 oz. Important gold fields are being opened up at Porcupine. The fame of the silver mines of the Cobalt district is world-wide. Average ores carry from 2000 to 4000 oz. To the ton; 955 tons of silver yielded $15,436,994. Petroleum and natural gas are important products of the southwest. Portland cement brings $3,144,000. Arsenic, cobalt, copper, corundum, graphite, gypsum, marble, mica, salt and silver are also found.

FORESTS

The forest area is estimated at 102,000 sq. miles. The Department of Forests and Mines estimates that there is still standing on unlicensed Crown lands 13,500,000,000 feet of red and white pine, and 300,000,000 cords of spruce, jack-pine, and poplar, suitable for pulp-wood; and on licensed lands, 7,000,000 feet of timber. The output for 1910 was 605,000,000 feet b. m. of pine: of other woods 95,000,000 feet; of square timber 308,000 cubic feet; of pulp-wood 138,000 cords; of cord-wood, 40,000 cords; and of railway ties, 3,800,000 pcs. The province has an enlightened system of reforestation.

Forest Reserves cover 17,860 sq. miles, containing it is estimated 7,000,000,000 feet of pine. There are two large provincial parks, Rondeau in the south-west, and Algonquin in the north-west of old Ontario.

MANUFACTURES

The manufacturing output of Ontario is greater than that of any other Canadian province. For 1905 (the last return available) its value was $361,372,741. It is now considerably greater.

FISHERIES

The value of the commercial fisheries in 1908 was $2,100,079. The opportunities for sport are excellent, the trout-fishing in the Nepigon being exceptionally fine. Northern Ontario is much resorted to by sportsmen in the hunting season.

WATERS

In addition to the Great Lakes there are countless inland lakes of much beauty and utility, the largest, Lakes Nepigon, Nipissin, Simcoe, and the Lake of the Woods. Innumerable rivers and water-courses furnish abundant natural power, little of it developed. A hydro-electric government commission with municipal co-operation, supplies electric power from Niagara Falls throughout the south-west. This commission is charged with the development and supplying of power in other parts of the province.

TOURIST RESORTS

Niagara Falls, the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence, the Thirty Thousand Islands in the Georgian Bay, the Muskoka Lakes, and the Lake of the Woods are famous.

RAILWAYS AND CANALS

Ontario is covered by a network of railways, principally operated by the Grand Trunk, the Canadian Pacific, and the Canadian Northern. Now traversed by one transcontinental railway, it will shortly be crossed by two others. The mileage in 1909 was 8229. The St. Lawrence Canals, the Welland Canal, overcoming the fall of 326 feet in the Niagara River, and the great lock at Sault Sainte Marie permit of navigation from Montreal to the head of Lake Superior, about 1400 miles. The Rideau and the Trent Valley canals are also works of importance. All canals are free.

CONSTITUTION AND GOVERNMENT

The constitution of the province is found in the British North America Act, 1867 (Imperial). Although its legislative powers are confined to enumerated subjects, the constitution being "similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom", legislative jurisdiction over the matter assigned to it, except education, is restricted only by the limitation, that provincial enactments must not clash with Imperial statutes made applicable to the province, or with legislation of the Parliament of Canada within the field assigned to it.

Legislature

The legislature consists of a lieutenant-governor, appointed and paid by the Government of Canada, and a single chamber of 106 members elected for four years. The party system prevails. The franchise is on a manhood suffrage basis. Ontario has 86 members in the Dominion House of Commons, consisting of 221 members, and 24 in the Senate, of which the membership is 87.

Executive

The executive is directly responsible to the Legislative Assembly, in which it must always command a majority. It consists at present of a prime minister and ten colleagues. The ministers holding portfolios are: the president of the council (at present the prime minister ), the attorney-general, the secretary and registrar, the treasurer the minister of lands, forests, and mines, the minister of agriculture, the minister of public works, and the minister of education.

Judiciary

The Constitutional Act assigns to the province "the constitution, maintenance, and organization of the provincial courts", civil and criminal, and to the Dominion the appointment and remuneration of judges. Judges of the superior courts are appointed for life. Those of the county and district courts must retire at the age of eighty. The province appoints surrogate court judges, police magistrates, and justices of the peace. The Supreme Court of Judicature comprises the Court of Appeal, with five judges, and the High Court, with twelve judges. The county and district judges have limited powers as local judges of the High Court. In the Division Courts (small debt ) they try claims, ascertained by signature up to $200, upon contract up to $100, and other personal claims up to $60. In the County and District courts they have jurisdiction, speaking generally, in actions upon contract up to $800, in other personal actions up to $500, and in actions respecting rights of property, where the value of the property affected does not exceed $500. Unless the defendant disputes jurisdiction, these courts may deal with any civil case whatever the amount involved. The jurisdiction of the High Court in unlimited. In important cases an appeal lies from the provincial court of appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, or to the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council.

Officials

Sheriffs, court officers, Division Court bailiffs, etc., are appointed by the provincial government.

Municipal System

The municipal system is based on American models. Municipal government is carried on by councils and presiding officers elected by popular vote. In large urban centers, Boards of Control elected by the municipalities at large have extensive powers. The councils appoint the administrative officers.

RELIGION

There is no State church. Legally all religions are on a footing of equality. Legislation however, is based on the fundamental principles of Christian morality. Sessions of the House of Assembly open with prayers read by the Speaker. Blasphemous libels, the obstruction of, or offering violence to, officiating clergymen, and disturbance of meeting for religious worship are criminal offences. Sunday is strictly observed.

Exemptions

Places of worship and lands used in connexion therewith, churchyards and burying-grounds, and buildings and grounds of educational and charitable institutions are exempt from taxation. Clergymen are exempt from jury duty and military service.

Incorporation

Religious organizations can readily obtain incorporation, with liberal powers of acquiring and holding real estate. Land may be given for "charitable uses", by deed made more than six months before the grantor's death, or by will, but must be sold within two years, unless the High Court, being satisfied that it is required for actual occupation for the purpose of the charity, sanctions its retention. All Catholic church property is vested in the bishop of the diocese who is a statutory corporation sole.

Catholicism

In 1763 the few French settlers were Catholics. Immigration from the United States after 1783 was almost exclusively Protestant. Some Scotch Catholics settled in Glengarry, and a considerable number of Irish Catholics, principally after the War of 1812 and particularly from 1847 to 1851, in various parts of Ontario. The See of Kingston, established in 1826, included the entire province. Rt. Rev. Alex. Macdonell was the first bishop. Kingston became an archdiocese in 1889. The Diocese of Toronto, erected in 1841, became an archdiocese in 1870. The Diocese of Ottowa, erected in 1847, became an archdiocese in 1886. The Province has now seven suffragan sees, Hamilton, London, Pembroke, Temiskaming (Vicariate), Peterborough, Alexandria, and Sault Sainte Marie. Portions of Ottawa, Pembroke and Temiskaming are in Quebec; the other dioceses are wholly in Ontario. Diocean priests number 383; priests of religious orders, 244 (1910).

The Catholic population in 1871 was 274,162; in 1881, 321,162; in 1891, 358,300; in 1901, 390,304; and in 1910 (est.) 450,000. Of these, 190,000 (est.) residing chiefly in Eastern Ontario, Essex, Nipissing, and Algoma, are French Canadians : the remainder principally of Irish descent. The Apostolic Delegate to Canada resides at Ottawa. The headquarters of the Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada (canonically established) are at Toronto. Catholic charitable institutions are numerous, and receive a fair share of government and municipal aid. As a minority, Catholics have reason to be satisfied with their status and recent treatment.

EDUCATION

At Confederation the British North America Act conferred on the province power to deal with education, saving rights and privileges, with respect to denominational schools then enjoyed. During the union of Protestant Upper Canada (Ontario) and Catholic Lower Canada (Quebec), from 1841 to 1867, provision was made for denominational schools for the religious minority in each province. The Ontario Separate Schools law, fundamentally as it stands today, was enacted in 1863. The rights then conferred on the Catholic minority are therefore constitutional.

Expenditure

The educational system is administered by the Department of Education. Out of $8,891,004.68 revenue, the Government in 1910 expended on education, exclusive of money spent through the Department of Agriculture, $2,220,796.75. In 1909 (1910 returns incomplete) $8,782,302.51 was raised by local taxation for primary and secondary education.

System

The system embraces free primary education in public and separate schools ; intermediate education in high schools, partly free; and university training at slight cost to the student. Every person between the ages of five and twenty-one years may, every child between eight and fourteen, unless lawfully excused, must, attend a public or separate school. The courses of study and textbooks are controlled by the Department, which sanctions fore separate schools only books approved by the Catholic authorities. Subject to departmental regulations, primary schools are managed by trustees locally elected, there being distinct boards for public and separate schools. Every teacher must hold a certificate of qualification from a provincial normal school. With its own taxes the municipality collects for each board the amount it requires for its purposes. For public schools, attended in 1910 by 401,268 pupils, government aid was $731,160.99 and local taxation (1909) $6,565,987.90. For separate schools, attended in 1910 by 55,034 pupils, government aid was $53,033.63 and local taxation (1909) $764,779.56. Where Catholics are the majority they sometimes use and control public schools ; in some localities they are too few to support a separate school. The separate school attendance is therefore substantially less than the number of Catholic school children.

High Schools

For High Schools attended in 1910, by 33,101 pupils, government aid was $157,383.03, and local taxation (1909) $1,451,535.05. There is no legal provision for separate high schools. On its Normal College (Hamilton) and two normal schools at Toronto and Ottawa the Government spent in 1910, $208,524.11, training 1198 students.

Separate Schools Law

Catholic separate schools are easily established. Their supporters are legally exempt from public school taxation. They elect their own trustees, who determine their rate of school taxation. Catholic teachers are employed and Catholic religious training is given. Separate school inspectors are specially appointed by the Government. Many of the teachers are Christian Brothers and Sisters of teaching orders, all holding government certificates. At the government examinations (1910) for entrance to high schools, in Toronto the percentage of public school candidates who passed was 54.59; that of separate school candidates was 57.81.

Universities

The University of Toronto is supported by the Government. In 1910 it had 4000 students. The revenue from succession duties, in 1910, $519,999.27, is devoted to it; it also received $15,000 for the faculty of education. With it is affiliated St. Michael's College, Toronto, conducted by the Basilian Fathers, the students of which in 1910 numbered over 250. The university is unsectarian. Catholic students take lectures in philosophy and history at St. Michael's. There are also: the Western University, London ; Queen's (Presbyterian), Kingston ; and McMaster ( Baptist ), Toronto. Victoria College (Methodist), Wycliffe ( Anglican ), Knox (Presbyterian), Trinity ( Anglican ), all at Toronto, are affiliated with the University of Toronto. Queen's University receives $42,000 from the Government for a school of mining, and $10,500 for its faculty of education.

The Catholic University of Ottawa, conducted by the Oblate Fathers, with complete French and English courses and, in 1910, 547 students, receives no government aid. It holds a charter from the Papal Court as well as from the province.

There are other Catholic colleges : Regiopolis at Kingston, conducted by secular priests ; St. Jerome's, at Berlin, by Fathers of the Resurrection, and Assumption, at Sandwich, by Basilians. In nearly every city and town there is a good convent school. In Toronto a Catholic Seminary for ecclesiastical education, capable of accommodating, at first 110, and later 310 students, the gift of Mr. Eugene O'Keefe, Private Chamberlain to His Holiness, is in course of construction. Ottawa has a diocesan seminary.

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE

By the British North America Act, marriage and divorce is assigned to the Dominion Parliament, while the solemnization of marriage is made a subject of provincial jurisdiction.

Marriage

Under the Ontario Marriage Act, marriage may be solemnized by "the ministers and clergymen of every church and religious denomination, duly ordained or appointed". Special provisions are made for the Congregations of God or of Christ, the Salvation Army, the Farringdon Independent Church, the Brethren, and the Society of Friends. There is no provision for purely civil marriage. The person solemnizing marriage must be "a resident of Canada ". The marriage must be preceded by publication of banns, or authorized by a licence, or certificate of the Provincial Secretary, issued by a local issuer appointed by the Government. Unless necessary to prevent illegitimacy, the marriage of any person under fourteen is prohibited. To obtain a licence for the marriage of a person under eighteen, not a widower or widow, consent of the father if resident in Ontario, and if not, of the mother if so resident, or of the guardian (if any) is required. Marriage within any degree of consanguinity closer than that of first cousins in prohibited. But by statute of Canada, marriage with a sister of a deceased wife or with a daughter of a deceased wife's sister is legalized; yet marriage with a daughter of a deceased wife's brother, with a brother of a deceased husband, and with a deceased husband's nephew remains illegal. The validity of marriage depends on the lex loci contractus.

Divorce

There is no Divorce Court. Divorce can be obtained only by Act of the Dominion Parliament, and adultery is the sole ground on which it is granted. In 1907 Parliament granted 3 divorces for Ontario; in 1908, 8, in 1909, 8; and in 1910, 14. Ontario courts recognize a foreign divorce only where it is valid according to the law of the state in which it is obtained, and the husband had at the time a bona fide domicile, as understood in English law, in such state. Subject to a saving provision in favour of a person who, in good faith and on reasonable grounds, believes his or her spouse to be dead, and of a person whose spouse has been continually absent for seven years and who has not known such spouse to be alive at any time during that period, any married person, not validly divorced, who goes through a second form of marriage in Canada commits bigamy: any such person who, being a British subject resident in Canada goes through such ceremony elsewhere, if he left Canada with intent to do so, also commits bigamy under Canadian law.

Nullity

The Ontario High Court has jurisdiction to adjudge marriage void, and it has special statutory power to declare a marriage null, if the plaintiff was under the age of eighteen when married, and the ceremony was without the consent required by law, and was not necessary to prevent illegitimacy. The action must be brought before the plaintiff attains the age of nineteen, and it must be proved in open court and after notice to the attorney-general (who is authorized to intervene) that there has not been cohabitation after the ceremony.


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The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

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