Canadian Regions: A Geography of Canada

By Donald F. Putnam | Go to book overview
between Montreal and Toronto. Railways, henceforth, became the most important geographical factor in the distribution of population. Many new towns were created and many others infused with new growth by the coming of the "iron horse"; many others, founded in the pioneer days, died because the railway passed them by.The population of Ontario reached 1,900,000 in 1881, an increase of 100% in thirty years. During this period many counties reached a peak which has not since been surpassed. Among these are Wellington, Victoria, Prince Edward, Perth, Northumberland, Huron, Haldimand, Durham and Bruce. Others reached a temporary peak, which they were not able to pass until 40 or 50 years later, while still others reached their peaks in the next decade. By 1881 the maximum density of rural population had been reached; since then, with few exceptions, all increases have been in the towns while rural densities have decreased.During the next twenty years while Manitoba and the Northwest Territories were beginning to develop, Ontario gained little in population. In many counties the countryside began to thin out rapidly. On the other hand, cities like Toronto, London, Ottawa and Berlin (now called Kitchener), doubled their numbers. These tendencies have continued to the present day. Rural hamlets and even villages have disappeared while certain cities have grown enormously. A great many Ontario born people have left Canada and are to be found in the great cities of the U.S.A.The period of 1941-51 saw great changes in populations during both the war and post war periods. In 1951 the total population of the province was found to be 4,597,542 with most of the increase being in Southern Ontario where the growing "metropolitan districts" are located. Including Toronto (1,117,000), Hamilton (260,000), Ottawa (282,000), Windsor (158,000) and London (122,000), these urban nuclei contain nearly 30% of the total population of Ontario.The pattern of population distribution in Southern Ontario seems to be completely set. Even though the population may, as it seems now, double itself during the ensuing half century, the great majority of them will be found in the "city belt", and all too many of them trying to live and work in the Greater Toronto metropolitan area. Within the "city belt" new cities may arise after the fashion already indicated by the development of Ajax between Toronto and Oshawa. Some smaller cities outside the "city belt" will undoubtedly develop, perhaps as expansions of such places as Barrie and Orillia in Central Ontario or Pembroke in the Ottawa Valley. Perhaps some new site along the Ottawa River might be selected for development. There will always be a great contrast between the crowded areas and the comparatively sparsely inhabited region of the Canadian Shield, yet it is probable that even there fair sized towns may develop.
Selected References
Census of Canada.
Chapman L. J. and D. F. Putnam. The Moraines of Southern Ontario. Trans. Roy. Soc. Canada 37, Sec. 4, pp. 33-41, 1943
Chapman L. J. and D. F. Putnam. The Recession of the Wisconsin Glacier in Southern Ontario. Trans. Roy. Soc. Canada 43, Sec. 4, pp. 23-52. 1949.
Chapman L. J. and D. F. Putnam. The Physiography of Southern Ontario. University of Toronto Press. 1951.
Coleman A. P. The Pleistocene of the Toronto Region. Annual Report Ontario Dept. of Mines 41, Pt. 7. 1932.
Coleman A. P. Lake Iroquois. Annual Report Ontario Dept. of Mines 45, Pt. 7. 1936.

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