As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we recognize that the cultural history of what is now Ontario stretches back more than 10,000 years. Many Nations and many peoples have called this place home. MyOntario – A vision over time marks this long history by opening a conversation among Ontarians about our experiences, identities, values and aspirations.
We are asking people from across the province to share their stories – the places, memories, photos, artifacts, artworks and traditions that inspire you, that motivate you and help define who you are. Be the province's storytellers, record keepers, historians and visionaries!
Let's build a deeper understanding, showcase our diversity and create a lasting record that reflects the breadth, depth and complexity of our great province as we look to the future.
Muhammad Qureshi (2014 recipient of a Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement)
Our natural fingerprint
The magic began on a cold autumn afternoon after a hockey game with friends. I was walking home through a trail and the leaves had turned bright yellow and deep red, and I came across a painted turtle scurrying to find its way back to a pond. A whole hour vanished as I expl
Holly Martelle (principal at Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc.)
Hopes for the future
My life as an archaeologist often consists of hour upon hour of painstaking analysis of small bits and pieces of everyday life. But last year, during an archaeological investigation in Toronto’s downtown, we made a remarkable discovery that not only got my archaeological heart
Charlie Fairbank (great-grandson of Oil Springs pioneer John Henry Fairbank)
An enduring landscape
Each morning, I open the door of our farmhouse and step into an enduring landscape of beauty, shaped by horse and man. Sheep dot the fields, deer often bound away and birds flap overhead. The swinging wooden jerker line sings a symphonic rhythm as it delivers power to the pumpjacks.
I live in North America’s oldest oilfield – the village of Oil Springs, Ontario. My great-grandfather, John Henry Fairbank, arrived at this spot in 1861 with just a shovel and a dream. The oil was for lighting. The excitement was palpable. The world was just awakening to this transformativ
James Raffan (author, speaker and consultant)
On Cranberry Lake
Afloat at dawn and inhaling the misty rays of rising late-summer sun. Other days, it might be a sunset paddle with a Thermos of coffee in Listening Bay, watching Venus chase the sun to China. Or maybe idling in star-speckled moonlight, howling with the coyotes, or startling with
Joseph Desloges (Professor, Departments of Earth Sciences and Geography, Woodsworth College, University of Toronto)
Celebrating the Chinguacousy Badlands
The Chinguacousy (“land of the young pines”) Badlands have been visited by hundreds of thousands of Ontarians. This rapidly eroding clay-shale bedrock at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment is a unique natural heritage feature in the province. As a designated A
Scarlett Janusas (President, Scarlett Janusas Archaeology Inc. )
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain, American author
I’ve always had a passion ab
Marshall Pynkoski (Co-Artistic Director of Opera Atelier)
Art in the face of adversity
Opera Atelier’s 30th anniversary in 2016 was a watershed season for the company. It marked our return to the Royal Opera House at Versailles and our arrival in France on November 13 – the day of the terrorist attacks. Opera Atelier’s production of Lully’s Armide reopen
Sam Steiner (Managing Editor of the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online and retired archivist from the Mennonite Archives of Ontario)
The cloud of witnesses
As a historian of Mennonites in Ontario, I have always enjoyed wandering through Mennonite and Amish cemeteries. Whether plain Old Order Amish or Old Order Mennonite cemeteries with only simple markers, or assimilated Mennonite cemeteries with a greater variety of monuments,
Thomas H.B. Symons (former Chair of the Board of Directors, Ontario Heritage Trust, and Founding President and Vanier Professor Emeritus of Trent University)
Homer Watson: Ontario's pioneer artist
Homer Watson’s paintings and drawings captured the spirit of pioneer Ontario much as, in a later generation, the work of the Group of Seven captured the spirit of the more northerly parts of Canada.
Born in the village of Doon in the Grand River Valley, Wat
Kathleen Wynne (Premier of Ontario)
Honouring our past, embracing our future
Ontario is Canada’s largest and most diverse province – home to ingenuity, inclusiveness and optimism.
Our province’s 150th birthday is a chance to reflect on our many achievements and look to the work that lies ahead with a renewed sense of purpose.
Arlene Chan (historian and author)
Gateway to Ontario
Toronto’s Chinatown East has a beautiful gateway – a Chinese architectural tradition first introduced in British Columbia in the 1880s.
As a writer and Chinatown historian, I find inspiration in the many gateways that grace Chinatowns in Toronto, Ottawa and across Canada. They
David P. Silcox (author, educator, cultural administrator and arts advocate)
MY ONTARIO IS:
RosalieAbella, RobertAitken, AndréAlexis, LouApplebaum, MargaretAtwood, IainBaxter&, StanBevington, BillBissett, JeanBoggs, DaveBroadfoot, EdBurtynsky, JackBush, JackCostello, DavidCrombie, KikiDelaney, LouiseDennys, MichaeldePencier, RamsayDerry, RupertDuchesne, BuddFeheley, Ma
Paul Yee (historan and author)
Telling the stories of Chinese Canadians
I am inspired by something intangible: the past, especially the history of Chinese Canadians. I grew up in Vancouver, knowing little about it. But once I found traces of it, I never stopped telling its stories.
Yes, there are museum artifacts and archival
Melanie Pledger (2015 recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement)
Learning from the past
I’m proud to be a Canadian. I’m also proud to be an Ontarian. Going one step further, I’m proud to be a Falcon.
In 2014, I graduated from one of the oldest high schools in Canada – the Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute (OSCVI). It was founded in 1856, making i
Atom Egoyan (film director, writer and producer)
R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant
Whenever I have visitors to Toronto, I take them to the Harris Filtration Plant. This beautiful complex is one of the few remaining examples of industrial art deco design that has survived to this day, and its location on Lake Ontario makes it truly unique. It ha
Yannick Bisson (film and television actor and director)
Reconnecting with nature
My first visit to Ontario, from Québec, was at about age 8. I have a distinct memory of arriving by car down the Don Valley Parkway. Jerry Rafferty's Baker Street was playing on the radio and I was completely amazed that there was such a massive green space in the middle o
Mélanie-Rose Frappier (2014 Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement)
On the path to reconciliation
Education is key. It will lead to healing as well as social awareness about the Indigenous culture. My ancestors spent hundreds of years fighting for the right to practise their way of life and it is still a struggle for some people today.
The picture shown here r
The Honourable James Bartleman (27th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario)
My Muskoka – Winter 1949
Every evening when I was a kid in the 1940s, I’d manoeuvre rough logs up onto a sawhorse and use a small bucksaw to cut them into stove lengths, afterward splitting the larger pieces into smaller sizes. After carrying in armloads of wood to fill the box beside the stove, I
Jean-Luc Pilon (Curator of Central Archaeology at the Canadian Museum of History)
The gift of time travel
In the summer of 1982, I was carrying out archaeological research near the shores of Hudson Bay on the Severn River. One of the sites we were investigating had been used a number of times. The earliest evidence suggested that people camped at the Ouabouche site before Europ
Joëlle Roy (auteure, compositrice-interprète et animatrice communautaire)
Descendants de la Vallée du Saint-Laurent
This French poem pays homage to the residents of the St. Lawrence velley who moved to Ontario in search of a better life working in the mines.
Il est parti au chantierY avait à peine 15 ansY a moyen de s’en sortirPour ça, faut faire d’l’argentY en a en
Karolyn Smardz Frost (archaeologist, historian and award-winning author)
Digging for the Promised Land
In 1985, the Toronto school board and Ontario's culture ministry created the Archaeological Resource Centre. There, schoolchildren and volunteers could dig into their own city's past, and explore the multi-cultures that make Ontario's heritage so remarkably rich.
Larry Wayne Richards (former Trust Board member, Professor Emeritus and former Dean, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto)
My first views of Ontario were from a passenger train 45 years ago. In 1972, I crossed the border at Detroit and took a train from Windsor to Toronto. From my window, I experienced the southwestern Ontario landscape – rolling green farmland and orderly towns – unfolding like frames
Ellen Scheinberg (author and President, Heritage Professionals/Archives)
Celebrating the history of Toronto’s Jewish cemeteries
Over the past decade, I have developed a passion for cemeteries. It started during my tenure as Director of the Ontario Jewish Archives, when I devised a tour of the Pape Avenue Cemetery with local artist Susan Brown.
Pape Cemetery was estab
Kevin Mannara (Basilian scholastic, seminarian, Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Parish)
What was and what will be
The term symbolkirchen can roughly be translated as a “symbol bearing church.” Such churches point to living realities beyond ourselves and hold the potential to serve as bridges, transcending the present vision to bring together what was and what may yet be. Assumption C
Excerpt taken from an interview with Louis Lesage, PhD (biologist and Director of the Bureau Nionwentsïo, at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette Church at Wendake, Quebec)
Why is it important to preserve the Wendat language?
Culture has many aspects. One aspect is the language. When you lose your language, you lose a part of your culture. The language helps you to describe your environment, to clearly express what you think, to make some colour in your way of life
Michael Bliss (historian, award-winning author and Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto)
You can go home again
I first saw the Camp Ahmek waterfront on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park in 1951. I saw it again last summer – 65 years later – and it was almost completely unchanged.
On the walls of Ahmek's great dining hall still hang plaques commemorating the highlights of each summer's ca
Afua Cooper, PhD (James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies, Dalhousie University)
The Black history of Ontario inspires me and defines who I am
Peggy Pompadour haunts me. I walk through the streets of Ye Olde Towne Toronto and I feel her presence – this Black enslaved woman who was owned, jailed and sold by colonial administrator Peter Russell. Peggy often ran away from slavery
The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell (29th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario)
The conscience of our province
Ontario’s Legislative Building, completed in 1893, is a magnificent structure filled with stories from the most significant moments in our province’s modern history. The place is replete with traditions. One of the more recent ones is the hosting of the Lieutenant Go
Michael Runtz (educator, naturalist, author and nature photographer)
Drawn back to Algonquin
Being a lifelong naturalist whose goal has been to explore Ontario’s natural history, I’ve come to appreciate just how rich this province’s biodiversity is. The north boasts the southernmost tundra in the world, home to polar bears and Arctic fox. The south harbours vestige
Susan Bryan (volunteer Chair of the Nature Reserves Committee of the Thunder Bay Field Naturalists)
Someone has passed this way before
I’m standing on the deck of a small boat, riding the swells of the Nipigon River where it widens into Lake Superior. In front of me, a rock cliff rises straight out of the water. On this cliff are a series of pictographs – lines, circles and other symbols – as we