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About Ontario

From weather to currency to measurements, here are a few helpful tips and things to keep in mind when travelling in Ontario. Plus, find some fun and interesting facts and information about the province. 


Currency & Measurements

Currency, Cash & Credit

Canada’s currency is the Canadian Dollar. 

Major international credit cards, such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted by most businesses, some may only accept cashless transactions. It’s a good idea to carry some Canadian cash, a debit card and a credit card. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are located in banks and retail areas and dispense Canadian currency. 

A bank or currency exchange outlet can change your funds to Canadian dollars. Banks are generally open Monday to Friday, with some open on weekends. 

Familiarize yourself with the security features of Canadian banknotes to avoid counterfeit currency and use the Bank of Canada’s currency converter to view daily exchange rates.


Sales Tax

Ontario has a 13% HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) that is applied to goods and services, purchased gifts and food/beverages. The HST is made up of an 8% federal tax and a 5% provincial tax. 


Tipping

A tip of 15-20% at bars and restaurants is customary. Tips are also given to tour guides, taxi drivers, and for spa treatments and haircuts. Porters at airports, railway stations and hotels generally expect $1-2 per item of luggage.


Units of Measurements

Canada uses the metric system for measuring distance, length, temperature, volume and weight, with units including kilometre, metre, litre and gram.  

Here’s a handy tool to help convert between imperial and metric units of measurement.


Weather in Ontario

Ontario's climate is considered continental, with temperatures ranging from humid in the south, with chilly winters and warm summers, to sub-arctic in the north. Due to Ontario's size, temperatures may vary tremendously from region to region. 

Temperatures are officially measured in degrees Celsius (C). 
 
On average, the coldest month of the year is January and the warmest is July. In summer, temperatures can soar above 30 C (86 F), while in winter they can drop to below -13 C (9 F), and often colder in the north.


Weather Reports

Visit the Weather Network or Environment Canada for current Ontario weather updates and local forecasts.

The Great Lakes Marine Forecast includes marine forecasts (temperatures, wind speeds, wave heights, visibility) along with weather warnings for various regions in Ontario (May–October).


Ski and Snow Reports

Snow reports and ski/snowboard conditions for major ski resorts in Ontario are available through Ski Ontario from December through to March.


Preparing for the Weather

The weather changes dramatically from season to season and it’s essential you are prepared. Here are some suggestions for clothing and other things you’ll need to comfortably enjoy all four seasons in Ontario. Keep in mind, that temperatures may often be vastly different between Southern and Northern Ontario, so you’ll want to check the weather forecasts at your specific destinations.

Summer (June, July & August)

  • Bug spray 
  • Sunblock
  • Sun hat and sunglasses
  • Light jacket, sweater and long pants for evenings

Fall (September, October & November)

  • Rain jacket
  • Waterproof boots
  • Sweaters

Winter (December, January & February)

  • Winter coat
  • Warm, waterproof boots
  • Hat, scarf and warm gloves
  • Warm socks 
  • Snow pants for outdoor activities

Spring (March, April & May)

  • Light or rain jacket
  • Waterproof boots


Public Holidays

The following is a list of annual public holidays in Ontario.
Note: Most banks, post offices and government offices close on these holidays; be sure to check ahead.
 

New Year's Day, January 1 

Family Day, 3rd Monday in February 
This provincial-wide holiday lands on the third Monday of February, extending the weekend for one extra day, and was established to celebrate families and allow for more time spent together.

Good Friday & Easter Sunday, 1st Sunday after the Paschal full moon, Good Friday is two days prior to Easter Sunday 

Victoria Day, May 20, last Monday preceding May 25 
Created to honour Queen Victoria’s birthday in Canada, Victoria Day is a nationally-recognized statutory holiday celebrated on the Monday before May 25. Many communities celebrate with a fireworks display. 

Canada Day, July 1 
The national holiday of Canada marks the date a dominion was formed through the British North America Act on July 1, 1867. Find out how to celebrate Canada Day in Ontario.

Civic Holiday, 1st Monday in August 
Celebrated on the first Monday of August, this civic holiday is a public holiday in some provinces and territories.  

Labour Day, September 2 
Labour Day in Canada is celebrated on the first Monday of September and was originally intended to provide workers with the opportunity to campaign for better working conditions or pay.

Canadian Thanksgiving, 2nd Monday in October 
In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October, upon the completion of the harvest season.

Remembrance Day, November 11 
Observe a moment of silence to honour and show gratitude for the courage and sacrifice of members of our armed forces who have – and continue to – serve Canada during times of war and conflict. Government services are closed on this day. 

Christmas Day, December 25 

Boxing Day, December 26
 

Facts About Ontario

Population: Over 14.8 million

Size: Ontario is Canada's second largest province, covering more than one million square kilometres (415,000 square miles) - an area larger than France and Spain combined.

Land: 894,639 square kilometres (344,092 sq. mi.)

Water: 177,398 square kilometres (68,490 sq. mi.), which is home to 250,000 lakes, which make up about one-fifth of the world's fresh water.

North/South Distance: 1,730 kilometres (1,075 mi.)

East/West Distance: 1,680 kilometres  (1,050 mi.)

Freshwater Shoreline: 3,081 kilometres  (2,362 mi.) along Great Lakes

Saltwater Shoreline: 1,094 kilometres  (680 mi.) along James and Hudson bays

Southernmost Point: Middle Island off Pelee Island (Latitude 40x41'; same as Rome, Italy, and Northern California)

Northernmost Point: Latitude 56x50' at Ontario-Manitoba border; which is close to that of London, England and Warsaw, Poland

Highest Point: Timiskaming district (693 m/2,274 ft.)

Lowest Point: Hudson Bay shore (sea level)
 


Ontario's Emblems 

Official Flag: The flag of Ontario is called the Red Ensign. It includes the Union Jack, representing Ontario's ties to Great Britain, and the Coat-of-Arms of the Province.

Coat-of-Arms of Ontario: The Coat-of-Arms of the Province consists of a green shield with three golden maple leaves surmounted by the Banner of St. George, a red cross on a silver background. The banner indicates Ontario's close ties with Britain, while the colours, green and gold, are Ontario's official colours; green symbolizes the land. Above the shield is a bear, with a moose and a deer supporting the shield; all representing the rich animal life of the province. The Latin motto is translated as "Loyal She Began, Loyal She Remains." The shield was granted by Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria on May 25, 1868, and the crest, supporters and motto by Royal Warrant of King Edward VII on February 27, 1909.

Official Flower: The official flower of Ontario is the trillium, a delicate white three petalled flower that grows in profusion in the wild woodlands of the province in early spring.

Official Gem: Amethyst, the rich purple semi-precious stone, is the official gem of Ontario. Large deposits are found in Northwestern Ontario.

Official Tree: The Eastern White Pine, Ontario's official tree, was an important source of income and trade during the pioneering days and continues to be a valuable resource for Ontario today.

Official Bird: The Common Loon was adopted as Ontario's official bird on June 23, 1994. The loon is honoured on the reverse side of the Canadian $1 coin, which is colloquially known as the “loonie”.

A list of Ontario Emblems; Ontario Flag, Ontario Coat of Arms, Ontario Flower, Ontario Gem, Ontario Tree, Ontario Bird.

Last updated: November 2, 2022

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