Geography & Environment of Ontario

The geography and environment of Ontario that we will delve into are for the purpose of identifying areas of interest to visit and explore. Specifically, Ontario has many natural geographical features of interest, which are highlighted on this page and throughout the site.

Quick Links:
EcozonesSeasons and ClimateCanada’s National ParksUNESCO Biosphere Reserves in OntarioOther Ontario natural geographical features


607x673-ecozonesOntario has 3 of Canada’s 15 terrestrial ecozones: Hudson Plains, Boreal Shield, and Mixedwood Plains. The Hudson Plain is the furthest north, occupies about 25% of Ontario, and has a subarctic climate. Below the Hudson Plain is the Boreal Shield, which is Ontario’s largest ecozone, and is where the Canadian Shield and the Boreal Forest overlap. Below the Boreal Shield is the Mixedwood Plains, which is the province’s smallest ecozone. With its relatively mild climate, extensive system of waterways, and rich fertile soils it is one of the most attractive and productive ecozones in Canada. Click here for more information on Canada’s Ecological Framework.

Seasons and Climate

Ontario has four seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall. Because the province is so big, average temperatures can vary considerably from north to south, but January is usually the coldest month of the year, and July and August are the warmest. To learn more about the Four Season of Ontario, click here.

Canada’s National Parks

Parks Canada’s mandate is to “protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these places for present and future generations.”

As representatives of Canada’s natural heritage, their goal is to establish a system of national parks that represents each of Canada’s 39 distinct natural regions. These special places are gateways to nature, to adventure, to discovery, to solitude. Protected and preserved for all Canadians and for the world, each is a sanctuary in which nature is allowed to evolve in its own way, providing a haven, not only for plants and animals, but also for the people.

Ontario is home to 4 of Canada’s 39 distinct natural regions:
. Central Boreal Uplands – represented by Pukaskwa National Park
. Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Precambrian Region – represented by Georgian Bay Islands National Park and Thousand Islands National Park
. St. Lawrence Lowlands – represented by Bruce Peninsula National Park and
Point Pelee National Park
. Hudson-James Lowlands

You can learn more about National and Provincial Parks in Ontario and Canada’s National Parks System Plan.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Ontario

Ontario is home to four of Canada’s 18 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, which can be explored further here.

Biosphere reserves are areas including terrestrial (land), marine (water) and coastal ecosystems that promote solutions to conserve the natural environment while allowing sustainable.Biosphere reserves have three interrelated zones that aim to fulfil three complementary and mutually reinforcing functions:

The core zone include areas that are strictly protected ecosystems that contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation.

The buffer zone surrounds or adjoins the core areas, and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training and education.

The transition area is the part of the reserve where the greatest activity is allowed, fostering economic and human development that is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable.

Other Ontario natural geographical features of note

Ontario’s Greenbelt

Ontario’s Carolinian ForestsCarolinian Canada

Golden Horseshoe & Greater Golden Horseshoe