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.
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
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
Manuel Stevens (retired Parks Canada planner)
Stepping back in time to Old Ontario
My Ontario is the Rideau Canal region between Smiths Falls and Kingston. Having spent many years as the planner for the Rideau Canal – and lately a cottage owner on the canal – I have had many occasions to travel these backgrounds over a period of nearly four d
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
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
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.
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
Steve Paikin (anchor, The Agenda with Steve Paikin on TVOntario)
Heaven on earth
A month before Ontario turns 150 years old, I’ll celebrate my 57th birthday. I’ve lived all but one of those years in the province of Ontario and all of them in big cities. But my favourite location in the province is somewhere I only spend a few weeks a year.
My first trip to 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
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
David Rayside (Professor Emeritus of Political Science and founding Director of the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto)
At 6 p.m. on December 2, 1986, Ontario’s legislative assembly was scheduled to vote on adding “sexual orientation” to the province’s Human Rights Code. Ten minutes away, at University College, I ended a late-afternoon class and ran over to the public gallery.
The vote was the only
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
Philip Pritchard (Vice President, resource centre and Curator, Hockey Hall of Fame and Keeper of the Stanley Cup)
Ontario and the Stanley Cup
Hockey is Canada’s national sport, and there is nothing more synonymous with hockey than the Stanley Cup. The tradition, the aura and the respect it has from its fans, players, coaches and management is second to none.
Having the privilege to travel with the Stanley C
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
Konrad Sioui (Grand Chief of the Huron-Wendat Nation)
The heart of North America
There are many stories that we can share. Well, first of all, the word “Ontario” itself. Many people don’t know what it means. People try to give an explanation to the name, but in Huron “io” is a superlative, “ontara” is a lake. So “Ontario” is a beautiful lake. In fact
Dr. Patrick Julig (Professor of Anthropology, School of Community and Northern Studies, Laurentian University, Sudbury)
Reflections on ancient quarry sites of northern Ontario
In the 1980s-90s, I excavated at Cummins and Sheguiandah National Historic Site quarry/workshops in northern Ontario – in addition to many neat places elsewhere around the world.
We archaeologists are inspired in our quests, seeking rare an
Deepa Mehta (director, producer and screenwriter)
Ontario’s rich diversity
When I think of Ontario, I think of inclusion, diversity and the resulting richness it brings to our province. In a world that is becoming alarmingly xenophobic and nativist, we are in my opinion a haven for the ‘other’.
Watch us in the film Sam and Me set in Toronto, a
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
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
R. Donald Maracle (Chief of the Mohawks of Bay of Quinte)
Christ Church, Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal of the Mohawk – Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
During the American Revolution, the Mohawks were forced to flee their homeland in upper New York State. In 1784, after spending several years in Lachine, Quebec, a group of Mohawks arrived on the shores of the Ba
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
Eleanor McMahon (Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport)
A Place to Stand
As Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, I’ve had the privilege to meet many proud, talented and hardworking Ontarians through my participation in a number of special events and occasions. One highlight came a few months ago.
It was a perfect late-summer day in our nation’s ca
Georges Quirion (architect and former Ontario Heritage Trust Board member)
Ontario’s rich industrial history
Northern Ontario has unique structures, not familiar to many, spread out through small northern communities, reflecting its rich history and its vast wealth of precious resources sought after by many from around the world.
The mining industry in particular creat
Jim Szilva (author and son of Ted Szilva, creator of the Big Nickel)
A nickel and a prayer
In 1963, a firefighter named Ted Szilva entered a contest organized by the Canadian Centennial Committee in Sudbury. The committee asked residents of the city to come up with a unique way to celebrate and recognize Canada’s 100th birthday in Sudbury. Sudbury was a mining town
The Honourable David Onley (28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario)
Thoughts about Ontario at 150
The photo became an heirloom in our family: a picture of Her Majesty the Queen at Kew Gardens in The Beach, escorted by Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe on a blistering hot June 1959 day, viewing dozens of kids in wheelchairs. The large banner framing the area pr
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
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
From an interview with Josephine Mandamin (“Water Walker,” grandmother and a 2015 recipient of a Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation)
Walking with the water
When we walk with the water, we pray for the water. The water that we carry, we pray for it, and we pray to it; we speak to it. Our minds and our hearts are with the water that we carry. The water is very precious. We have adopted it. We picked it up from where we walk from,
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
Adrienne Shadd (historian, curator and author)
Reflections on my hometown
In the year of the 150th birthday of Canada, I would like to pay tribute to my hometown. North Buxton started out in 1849 as a colony established by escaped slaves and free Blacks from the United States. One of the final stops on the Underground Railroad, Buxton occupies