Yours to Discover: Tourism in Ontario through Time: Government and the Tourist Industry - Page Banner

Table of Contents


A Tourist and Publicity Bureau was set up in 1924 to promote Ontario’s attractions, especially those associated with nature and the outdoors. 

To encourage tourism, the Bureau published an annual guide to “point out some of the advantages of the Province of Ontario as a tourist centre in summer and winter”. 

Click to see a larger image (157K)
Flower Pot Island, 1953
Department of Travel and Publicity, Publicity Branch
Transparency
Reference Code: RG 65-35-3, 11764-X2862
Archives of Ontario, I0005559

Photo: Flower Pot Island, 1953

The pamphlet on the left below, from the Publicity Bureau in 1926, depicts a romantic countryside easily seen by train or motorcar, while the one done in 1932 evokes the pure northland beauty painted by the Group of Seven artists.

Cover: Your Vacation in Ontario. Canada’s Premier Province. The Lake-Land Playground
Click to see a larger image (111K)
Your Vacation in Ontario. Canada’s Premier Province. “The Lake-Land Playground
Toronto: The Bureau, 1926
Ontario. Publicity Bureau
Reference Code: Pamp 1926, #10
Archives of Ontario Library Collection

Cover: Beautiful Ontario Canada's Premier Province: The Lakeland Playground of America
Click to see a larger image (114K)
Beautiful Ontario Canada’s Premier Province:
The Lakeland Playground of America
Toronto: Tourist and Publicity Bureau, 1932
Reference Code: Govt Doc T & P Misc Box 2 no 9
Archives of Ontario Library Collection


By the 1930s, three out of every four Americans visiting Canada chose Ontario for their vacation. The government’s tourism marketing strategy through the forties and fifties was to target Americans who wanted an outdoor vacation. This advertising was directed at families who desired to holiday on one of the many lakes, as well as at individuals who wanted to hunt and fish in Ontario’s forests and streams.

Publications and photographs promoting Ontario as “the Lakeland Playground of America” were forwarded to travel editors and inserted in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States.

Click to see a larger image (196K)
The Fisherman’s Ontario, 1950
Toronto: The Department of Travel and Publicity, 1950
Reference Code: Govt Doc T & P
Misc Box 3 no 36
Archives of Ontario Library Collection

Cover: The Fisherman’s Ontario, 1950

Cover: Ontario Canada's Vacation Province - For Your Victory Vacation: for hunting and fishing
Click to see a larger image (185K)
Ontario Canada's Vacation Province
For Your Victory Vacation:
for hunting and fishing, 1947 [Back Cover]
Reference Code: Govt Doc T & P Misc Box 2 no 17
Archives of Ontario Library Collection

Cover: Ontario Canada's Vacation Province - For Your Victory Vacation: Welcomes you
Click to see a larger image (176K)
Ontario Canada's Vacation Province
For Your Victory Vacation:
welcomes you, 1947 [Front Cover]
Reference Code: Govt Doc T & P Misc Box 2 no 17
Archives of Ontario Library Collection


Since most of the American tourists arrived by car, the government circulated maps showing roads and highways as well as images of available accommodations.

In addition, reception centres were established at various motor entry points from the United States into Canada in order to facilitate the tourist experience for Americans.

The King's Highway: Travel features
Click to see a larger image (105K)
The King's Highway: Travel features.
Includes sketches of guesthouses along the King's Highway and advertisements for local businesses.
Verso includes paragraph description
for individual inns. 1938
V. E. Ireland
Reference Code: B-55
Archives of Ontario, I0026640

Photo: Reception Centre, Kenora, 1958
Click to see a larger image (73K)
Reception Centre, Kenora, 1958
Department of Travel and Publicity, Publicity Branch
Transparency
Reference Code: RG 65-35-3, 11764-X3041-1
Archives of Ontario, I0005580

"Reception Centre Summary for 1949" Ontario
Click to see a larger image (275K)
"Reception Centre Summary for 1949" Ontario
Ministry of Travel and Publicity
Report of the Minister of Travel and Publicity
Province of Ontario For the Fiscal Year 1949-1950
Toronto: Publicity Branch, Ministry of Travel and Publicity
Reference Code: Govt Doc T & P
Archives of Ontario Library Collection


Travellers needed clean tourist camps. The Department of Health supervised the camps and the municipal water supply. Those that received Department of Health approval were identified by an asterisk in the annual guide to the province’s attractions published by the Tourist and Publicity Bureau.

Photo: Girl standing in front of a tent at a tourist camp in Midland,  [ca. 1915]
Click to see a larger image (85K)
Girl standing in front of a tent at a tourist camp in Midland, [ca. 1915]
Ministry of Education
Black and white print
Reference Code: RG 2-71, COM-11
Archives of Ontario, I0004109

Tourist Camps in Ontario, 1930
Click to see a larger image (167K)
Tourist Camps in Ontario
Ontario. Publicity Bureau
Spend Your Vacation in Ontario Canada’s Premier Province: The Lakeland Playground of America
Toronto: Tourist and Publicity Bureau,1930
Reference Code: Govt Doc T & P Misc. Box 2 no 7
Archives of Ontario Library Collection

Tourist Camp Regulation Act 1946-1953

Later, the Department of Travel and Publicity established a classification scheme for the tourist camps and set out the requirements for each classification. The document to the left outlines some of the requirements for a “GOOD” or a one star classification.

Click to see a larger image (132K)
Tourist Camp Regulation Act 1946-1953
Reference Code: RG 5-24, Box MB 63. Folder 1.8
Archives of Ontario


After the war, to accommodate the increasing needs of commerce in Ontario, the province embarked on an extensive program of highway construction. New roads included the Queen Elizabeth Way of Fort Erie to Toronto, Highway 400 north to Barrie, and Highway 401, the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway, stretching from Windsor to the Quebec boundary. Improvements were also made to the Trans-Canada highway that stretches across the province from Quebec to Manitoba.

Photo: Northbound traffic on Highway 400, Dominion Day weekend, July 1967
Click to see a larger image (86K)
Northbound traffic on Highway 400,
Dominion Day weekend, July 1967
Ministry of Transportation
Black and white print
Reference Code: RG 14-151-21-28, 9498-F
Archives of Ontario, I0006378

Photo: Highway 11 north of Orient Bay, Thunder Bay, [ca. 1970]
Click to see a larger image (109K)
Highway 11 north of Orient Bay, Thunder Bay, [ca. 1970]
Ministry of Transportation
Reference Code: RG 14-151-12-27, 16261
Archives of Ontario, I0006377

Photo: Highway 401 near Kingston, 1960-[198-?]
Click to see a larger image (336K)
Highway 401 near Kingston, 1960-[198-?]
Ministry of Transportation
Colour print
Reference Code: RG 14-151-21-29
Archives of Ontario, I0006379