Advertisement
ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM
In the late 19th century Ontario’s longest-serving premier, Oliver Mowat, gave a talk on “Christianity and Some of Its Evidences” to a church group in his North Oxford riding.
Playing to his audience, he slyly declared that he was “not aware of one organized society of either agnostics or infidels” in all of Canada, “except Toronto.”
Who can say what Premier Mowat would make of such present-day organizations such as Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance in Kingston, the Quinte Secular Humanist Association, the Society of Ontario Freethinkers in Waterloo, the Grey Bruce Humanists, the Humanist Association of Sudbury, or the Windsor/Essex County Atheist Society? 
 
In any case, as Torontonians scatter to their various cottage countries this very politically interesting summer of 2015, they may want to devote a few thoughts to just what it means that, among many other things, they live in the capital city of Canada’s most populous province.  
This has been an unusual year for Ontario so far. Some in Toronto have even suggested that their city, or at least some version of the wider Greater Toronto Area (GTA), would be better off as a province in its own right.
There are those outside Toronto who would heartily second the motion, of course. And there have been times in the past when more than a few in many places might agree. Yet it seems unlikely in practice today, at best.   
On the other hand, Torontonians themselves might want to reflect this summer on how in 2015 the old “rural and small town Ontario” so plaintively evoked in Alice Munro’s 1971 novel Lives of Girls and Women is not what it used to be either.  
Several years ago, University of Waterloo environmentalist Gordon Nelson edited a book called Beyond the Global City: Understanding and Planning for the Diversity of Ontario. 
According to Nelson: “as far back as the 1970s ... the now well-known view of Toronto as the great economic engine of the province” began to dominate policy thinking at Queen’s Park. And this has resulted in what he called "a kind of flat-earth view of Ontario.”
But the majority of the province’s current 13.75 million people (the province is bigger than 63% of United Nations' member states) still live outside the GTA, let alone just the megacity of Toronto proper that was created by former PC Premier Mike Harris. 
Another interesting fact: according to the May 2015 regional numbers from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, all of the census metropolitan areas of Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo-Barrie, Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula, London, Stratford-Bruce Peninsula, and Northwest Ontario have current unemployment rates lower than Toronto’s. 
As a matter of fact, the capital city also has a long history of getting by with a little help from friends in the larger Ontario territory. 
Even in the era just before confederation, for example, "George Brown’s old Globe (forerunner of today’s Globe and Mail) used then-new regional railways to sell newspapers to “the rural population, the reading population” (Globe 1861) in what Lord Elgin, Governor General from 1847 to 1854, called “this progressive well-farmed country.”  
Then there was the case of the Great Depression of the 1930s, when gold and silver mining in Northern Ontario helped the rising Toronto financial sector continue to grow.  
And even today, more and more Torontonians are counting on public transit vehicles made in Thunder Bay to get to work in the morning!
Ontario’s version of the traditional clash between town and country has also had strong political overtones. 
In an earlier era Toronto was Tory Conservative and rural Ontario was Grit Liberal. Yet in the last Ontario election the Liberals won almost every seat in the City of Toronto proper, and the New Democrats took the other two. 
A year later the new Ontario Conservative leader, Patrick Brown, is claiming that in Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government at Queen’s Park: “There seems to be no interest in what's happening in rural Ontario.”
Then we hear as well that Patrick Brown marched in the Toronto Pride parade. Mr. Brown explains: “We are building a new Ontario PC Party — one that celebrates diversity in all its forms and that includes Ontarians from every corner of the province, in every community and on every block.”
How successfully Patrick Brown will lead his new Ontario PC Party remains a question that will not even begin to be answered for a while yet. But other parties may find that they too will have to start reaching out to all parts of the province, more aggressively than in the past. 
More and more, what is interesting about Toronto, from the standpoint of the wider global village, is not just what’s inside the city itself. It’s what’s in the wider regions that so many Torontonians visit during various recreational seasons, along with all their trips abroad.
In the 21st century age of the Internet, this wider region effectively includes all of the geographically vast province of Ontario — a jurisdiction 32% larger than Texas. 
It could do Toronto some good to learn a little more this summer about the province of which it is the proud capital city. And vice-versa too, of course.
 
 
 In the late 19th century Ontario’s longest-serving premier, Oliver Mowat, gave a talk on “Christianity and Some of Its Evidences” to a church group in his North Oxford ridingPlaying to his audience, he slyly declared that he was “not aware of one organized society of either agnostics or infidels” in all of Canada, “except Toronto.”

              It's Time Toronto And All Of Ontario's Regions Got Reacquainted

                                    Things have changed, both in Toronto and Ontario's small towns.


By Randall White

In the late 19th century Ontario’s longest-serving premier, Oliver Mowat, gave a talk on “Christianity and Some of Its Evidences” to a church group in his North Oxford riding.

Playing to his audience, he slyly declared that he was “not aware of one organized society of either agnostics or infidels” in all of Canada, “except Toronto.”

Who can say what Premier Mowat would make of such present-day organizations such as Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance in Kingston, the Quinte Secular Humanist Association, the Society of Ontario Freethinkers in Waterloo, the Grey Bruce Humanists, the Humanist Association of Sudbury, or the Windsor/Essex County Atheist Society? 

In any case, as Torontonians scatter to their various cottage countries this very politically interesting summer of 2015, they may want to devote a few thoughts to just what it means that, among many other things, they live in the capital city of Canada’s most populous province.  

This has been an unusual year for Ontario so far. Some in Toronto have even suggested that their city, or at least some version of the wider Greater Toronto Area (GTA), would be better off as a province in its own right.

There are those outside Toronto who would heartily second the motion, of course. And there have been times in the past when more than a few in many places might agree. Yet it seems unlikely in practice today, at best.   

On the other hand, Torontonians themselves might want to reflect this summer on how in 2015 the old “rural and small town Ontario” so plaintively evoked in Alice Munro’s 1971 novel Lives of Girls and Women is not what it used to be either.  

Several years ago, University of Waterloo environmentalist Gordon Nelson edited a book called Beyond the Global City: Understanding and Planning for the Diversity of Ontario

According to Nelson: “as far back as the 1970s ... the now well-known view of Toronto as the great economic engine of the province” began to dominate policy thinking at Queen’s Park. And this has resulted in what he called "a kind of flat-earth view of Ontario.”

But the majority of the province’s current 13.75 million people (the province is bigger than 63% of United Nations' member states) still live outside the GTA, let alone just the megacity of Toronto proper that was created by former PC Premier Mike Harris. 

Another interesting fact: according to the May 2015 regional numbers from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, all of the census metropolitan areas of Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo-Barrie, Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula, London, Stratford-Bruce Peninsula, and Northwest Ontario have current unemployment rates lower than Toronto’s. 

As a matter of fact, the capital city also has a long history of getting by with a little help from friends in the larger Ontario territory. 

Even in the era just before confederation, for example, "George Brown’s old Globe (forerunner of today’s Globe and Mail) used then-new regional railways to sell newspapers to “the rural population, the reading population” (Globe 1861) in what Lord Elgin, Governor General from 1847 to 1854, called “this progressive well-farmed country.” 

Then there was the case of the Great Depression of the 1930s, when gold and silver mining in Northern Ontario helped the rising Toronto financial sector continue to grow.  

And even today, more and more Torontonians are counting on public transit vehicles made in Thunder Bay to get to work in the morning!

Ontario’s version of the traditional clash between town and country has also had strong political overtones. 

In an earlier era Toronto was Tory Conservative and rural Ontario was Grit Liberal. Yet in the last Ontario election the Liberals won almost every seat in the City of Toronto proper, and the New Democrats took the other two. 

A year later the new Ontario Conservative leader, Patrick Brown, is claiming that in Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government at Queen’s Park: “There seems to be no interest in what's happening in rural Ontario.”

Then we hear as well that Patrick Brown marched in the Toronto Pride parade. Mr. Brown explains: “We are building a new Ontario PC Party — one that celebrates diversity in all its forms and that includes Ontarians from every corner of the province, in every community and on every block.”

How successfully Patrick Brown will lead his new Ontario PC Party remains a question that will not even begin to be answered for a while yet. But other parties may find that they too will have to start reaching out to all parts of the province, more aggressively than in the past. 

More and more, what is interesting about Toronto, from the standpoint of the wider global village, is not just what’s inside the city itself. It’s what’s in the wider regions that so many Torontonians visit during various recreational seasons, along with all their trips abroad.

In the 21st century age of the Internet, this wider region effectively includes all of the geographically vast province of Ontario — a jurisdiction 32% larger than Texas.

It could do Toronto some good to learn a little more this summer about the province of which it is the proud capital city. And vice-versa too, of course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Randall White

Randall White is a former senior policy advisor with the Ontario Ministry of Finance, and a former economist with the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. He is the author of Ontario 1610-1985: A Political and Economic History and Ontario Since 1985. He writes frequently about Ontario politics.
Posted date : June 30, 2015

View all of Randall White's columns
ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM
With leadership campaigns heating up, pundits have crowned some candidates as "front runners". But no one's asked those actually voting. Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin discuss.
March 29, 2017
The Trudeau government's new budget, rather than delivering activist government as it promised to do, reveals a party that turns more and more conservative in power. Luke Savage weighs in.
March 23, 2017
Ontario's PCs and NDP are pressuring the Liberals to hold the line on school closures. But to keep them open, says Randall White, no one wants to pay the piper.
March 22, 2017
The Liberals government's proposal to cut energy costs by 25% is just shifting the actual payments to our children, warns Terri Chu.
March 21, 2017
A new report shows Canada is one of the lowest defence spending nations in NATO - we're 22nd out of 28. How much should we be spending? Mahoney, Capobianco and Belanger discuss.
March 15, 2017
A review of Ontario's labour laws is landing on Premier Kathleen Wynne's desk right about now. Brad James wonders if she'll use it to bring about greater fairness.
March 13, 2017
Finance Minister Morneau has announced he will bring down the Liberal government's second budget on March 22nd. What should be in it? Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin debate.
March 08, 2017
Donald Trump, Brexit, and the French election: could swings to the right affect voters casting ballots in the Ontario's 2018 election? Randall White has more.
March 07, 2017
More and more asylum seekers are sneaking into Canada at non-official border crossings. Should Canada be cracking down on them? Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin debate.
March 01, 2017
President Trump has done Canada a lot of favours already. Why, the best scientists and academics are headed our way! Terri Chu writes a tongue-in-cheek love letter to The Donald.
February 28, 2017
Trade, military co-operation and working women came up at the Trump-Trudeau meeting. But were the results substantive enough? Bird, Capobianco and Parkin weigh in.
February 15, 2017
Canada's western provinces may have grown fastest, but Ontario remains the country's most populous province, writes Randall White. There was good news for of its areas.
February 14, 2017