Why Northwestern Ontario is... in Ontario
- In another dispute, over which province should own what is now the
northwest of Ontario, the [British] Judicial Committee sided with Ontario
against Manitoba and Ottawa. The ruling still makes no sense. The people of
the region still treat Winnipeg at their national capital. Why? Because it
is their geographical capital. Toronto and the rest of Ontario belong to a
distant, different world.
-- John Ralston Saul, A Fair Country (p.162)
That was in the early 1900's, apparently.
I always wondered how the screwy shape of Ontario had come about; it figures. The actual Canadian federal government (Ottawa) thought it would make sense to lump us in with Manitoba, but somehow the British overseers thought otherwise.
If you're from Northwestern Ontario, here's a fun game you can play with your friends from Southern Ontario. First, take a paper map of Ontario. (I know, paper maps? What are those?) They're generally printed with Southern Ontario on one side and Northern Ontario on the other. In Southern Ontario, find two towns that are about an hour apart, and point them out on the map.
Now flip over the map and find two towns that look about the same distance apart, and ask your friend to estimate how far apart they are. See if they remember to check the map scale - most people don't realize that the Northern Ontario side is drawn much smaller, because the land is absolutely huge by comparison and has a much lower population density.
Now imagine you're working for the Ontario government - down in Toronto - and you still haven't realized this.