Tourist and Traveler
Information for Ontario
Languages, Heritage and Religion
English is Ontario’s
official language, although French language rights have been
extended to the legal and educational systems. In many communities
in Northern Ontario French is as easily spoken as English, thanks to
our French-Canadian history.
Ontario’s population growth has depended on immigration ever since
the American Revolution sent Loyalists north to Canada. Even today,
about half of the approximately 250,000 people who immigrate to
Canada each year, choose to settle in Ontario. (Toronto has been
called the most multicultural city in the world, where more than 70
languages are spoken.)
According to the 1996 census by Statistics Canada, the five
languages most commonly spoken at home are English (almost nine
million speakers), French (almost 540,000 speakers), Chinese (almost
275,000 speakers), Italian (almost 140,000 speakers) and Portuguese
(about 92,000 speakers).
Other significant languages include Polish, Spanish, Punjabi, German
According to the 1991 census, the largest religious denomination is
Roman Catholic, with more than 3.5 million members. The United
Church has about 1.5 million members, the Anglican Church more than
one million, and non-United Presbyterians exceed 400,000.
Other major religious adherents include Baptists (more than
250,000), Lutherans (more than 225,000), Jewish (175,000), Greek
Orthodox (almost 170,000), Muslims (145,000) and Hindus (more than
105,000). The numbers are not available but there is a large,
growing and active Wiccan/Pagan culture.