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Cool and Interesting Facts About Ontario

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CJ Baker is a published writer who wrote the novel and started the companion podcast An Epic Soundtrack To A Mundane Existence.

Cool Ontario Trivia

As a Canadian, I have already been compelled to write about really cool Canadian facts. But I wanted to follow up my first article about Canadian trivia with some really cool facts about my home province of Ontario.

I will break up the facts into the following categories:

  • Landmarks
  • Historical
  • Sports
  • Entertainment

Video of Nik Wallenda's Tightrope Walk Over Niagara Falls

Ontario Landmarks

  • The Horseshoe Falls (also referred to as the Canadian Falls) is one of three waterfalls that make up the Niagara Falls (the other two that both fall on the American side are the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls). Located in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the Horseshoe Falls is the largest of the three falls at 174 feet high. Over the years there have been a small handful of daredevils who have attempted to go down the falls in a barrel. The first person to be documented as successfully attempting it was Annie Taylor in 1901. American high wire artist Nik Wallenda successfully walked across the American to the Canadian side of the falls on a tightrope on June 15, 2012.
  • Located in Toronto, Ontario, I almost left out the CN Tower because to me it appeared to be a too obvious and well known landmark. But because it was such a well known and impressive landmark I didn't feel justify in not including it. It was built in 1976 and at the time it was the tallest tower and the tallest freestanding structure, which it remained right up to 2010. At 1,815.4 ft it is still impressively tall. It also has a 1,122.0 ft glass floor where people can look straight down which can potentially make for a freaky experience.
  • Camp X was a spy school to train Allie spies during the second World War. It was located between Whitby and Oshawa. The official name of the school was Special Training School 103 (STS 103) and famous students include James Bond creator Ian Fleming and British author Ronald Dahl. As a spy school it operated from 1941-1946. Afterwards the site continued to operate as a spy interception station and was renamed The Oshawa Wireless Station, which ceased operations in 1969. The location is now called Intrepid Park. The buildings associated with the spy school have since been destroyed, but in 1984 a monument was built to honor Camp X.

Camp X

1943 photo of Camp X, a spy training school located in Whitby, Ontario.

1943 photo of Camp X, a spy training school located in Whitby, Ontario.

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Ontario Historical Facts

  • It is widely believed that the legend of Paul Bunyan was inspired by Big Joe Mufferaw (birth name, Josesph Montferrand). Mufferaw was a lumberjack who was renowned for his feat of strengths. He became beloved for his courageous stand against big logging companies. Even though he was a real life logger and strongman, many of his feats were embellished. A statue has been dedicated to him in his hometown of Mattawa, Ontario. He was also the subject of the Stompin' Tom Connors' song bearing his name.
  • Toronto is currently the capital of Ontario, but prior to confederation (when it was a British colony) that was not always the case. In 1792 Niagara-on-the-Lake became the first capital. Then in 1796 Toronto became the capital. Toronto remained the capital until 1840 when Upper (Ontario) and Lower (Quebec) Canada united to become one province. After this union Kingston became the first province followed by Montreal. From there it alternated between Quebec City and Toronto. After confederation on July 1st, 1967, Toronto became the permanent capital of Ontario while Quebec City became the capital of Quebec.
  • The province of Ontario is widely associated with one of the most famous inventions in history, the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell immigrated to Brantford, Ontario from Scotland and he did much of his research in his Brantford home. There is some debate to what extent he worked on the invention in Ontario because he did not unveil the invention or patented it until after he moved to Boston. That being said he did make his first long distance phone on August 10, 1876, from Brantford to Paris, Ontario. Alexander Graham Bell's Brantford home was declared a National Historical Site.

Alexander Graham Bell's Homestead

Sculpture of Dr. James Naismith

Sculpture of Dr. Naismith located in his hometown of Almonte, Ontario.

Sculpture of Dr. Naismith located in his hometown of Almonte, Ontario.

Ontario Sports Fact

  • The sport of basketball was invented by Almonte, Ontario native, Dr. James Naismith. He invented the sport in December 1891 while teaching at a YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts. Originally the game was played with a soccer ball and two peach baskets.
  • Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run on September 5th, 1914 at Hanlan's Point on the Toronto Islands. Ruth was playing for the minor league Providence Grays who ended beating the Toronto Maple Leafs (the now defunct minor league baseball team, not the hockey team) 9-0.
  • Of course Canada is known for hockey and produced many great hockey players. Many of those great players were born in Ontario, including the player who is widely viewed as the greatest, "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky. Wayne Gretzky was born in Brantford, Ontario on January 26th, 1961. Gretzky owns numerous NHL records including the career and single season marks for most points, goals and assists. He is also known for inspiring an unhealthy beverage. "The Gretzky" inspired by his jersey #99, is a coffee with 9 creams and 9 sugars.

Wayne Gretzky's First Pair of Hockey Skates

This is the pair of skates worn by the three year old Wayne Gretzky. The legendary hockey player grew up in Brantford, Ontario.

This is the pair of skates worn by the three year old Wayne Gretzky. The legendary hockey player grew up in Brantford, Ontario.

The Lonely End Of The Rink by The Tragically Hip (Video)

Ontario Entertainment Facts

  • The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is held every September. The festival is considered one of the more important film festivals in terms of attracting big name celebrities and generating Oscar buzz. In 1998 Vanity Fair called the festival "second only to Cannes" while an August, 2007 Time Magazine article called TIFF "the most influential film festival, period."
  • Ontario has produced many notable comedians including Jim Carrey (Newmarket), Mike Myers (Scarborough), Dan Aykroyd (Ottawa), John Candy (Newmarket), Martin Short (Hamilton) & Rick Moranis. Also Saturday Night Live creator and producer Lorne Michaels was born in Toronto, Ontario.
  • Ontario also has produced many successful musicians. Notable bands include Rush (band formed in Toronto, both Neil Peart & Geddy Lee where born in Ontario) The Tragically Hip (Kingston, huge in Canada, unknown just about anywhere else) and Barenaked Ladies (Scarborough). Ontario also produced a trio of successful female singers Alanis Morisette (Ottawa), Shania Twain (Windsor, but grew up in Timmins) and Avril Lavinge (Belleville, but grew up in Napanee). Alanis Morisette's 1995 album Jagged Little Pill was the best selling album of all time by a female act until it was outsold by Twain's 1997 album Come On Over. Lavinge help put the small community of Napanee on the map when she wore a Napanee Home Hardware shirt when she performed on Saturday Night Live on January 11th, 2003. Afterwards because of the demand the chain produced a limited number of identical t-shirts with the proceeds going to charity.
  • Justin Bieber was born in London, Ontario. On behalf of all Canadians and Ontarians everywhere, I am sorry for the Bieber fever epidemic.

© 2012 CJ Baker

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