400+ years

As a Franco-Ontarian, you are part of a community going back more than 400 years.

Starting in 1613, French explorer Samuel de Champlain travelled – and mapped – parts of Ontario. He followed the water: the Ottawa River, Lake Nipissing, the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay.

On August 1, 1615 Champlain and his First Nations guides and allies arrived on the shores of Georgian Bay, near what is now Penetanguishene, where he was greeted by Chief Aenon of the Wendat (Huron).

He spent the next 8 months with the Wendat and Anishinaabe before departing for Quebec the following spring. This was the longest, most extensive and westernmost of his travels in the lands that would one day become Ontario.

400th anniversary commemoration

Throughout 2015, we commemorated the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s exploration of Ontario. After all, it is the starting point of the Francophone community’s cultural, social, economic and political contributions to the province.

This included:

  • Rotary Champlain Wendat Park, a restored and enhanced 400th-themed commemorative park in Penetanguishene
  • An official provincial plaque given to France by Ontario, marking Champlain’s departure from the Port of Honfleur to the province
  • A virtual exhibit of historical Franco-Ontarian artefacts showcasing the historical significance and contribution of the French presence in Ontario over the past four centuries

Queen’s Park monument dedicated to Franco-Ontarians

The Franco-Ontarian monument honours the outstanding contributions of Franco-Ontarians to the cultural, economic and historical development of the province.

You can find this monument on the north-west corner of University Avenue and College Street in Toronto, on the Western Gateway Lawn.

Titled “Notre place” (our home), it celebrates the key role that you play as a Francophone, in shaping Ontario’s history and building a modern, open and inclusive society.

The monument is a public space where a series of long, thin columns of various lengths clustered together symbolize the concept of both a journey and a gathering place. Its three essential elements, le sentier (the path), la forêt (the forest) and la clairière (the clearing) represent the centuries-long journey of Francophones as they helped build Ontario.

Photo of the Franco-Ontarian monument described above
The Franco-Ontarian monument

Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie

As a Franco-Ontarian, you are part of a larger Francophone community – the Canadian and international Francophonie.

Federal, provincial and territorial ministers meet every year to discuss issues and develop services to support the Francophone community in Canada.

Find out about the work done during the Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie.

Franco-Ontarian Day and flag

There are more than 622,000 Francophones and 1.5 million Ontarians who can speak French, making Ontario Canada’s largest Francophone community outside of Quebec.

September 25th is Franco-Ontarian Day, a time to celebrate your community and its history. It was officially named Franco-Ontarian Day in 2010.

The Franco-Ontario flag flew for the first time on September 25, 1975 at the University of Sudbury. It was created by history professor Gaétan Gervais and political science student Michel Dupuis.

The flag became the symbol of the Franco-Ontarian community and was officially recognized in 2001. Read the Franco-Ontarian Emblem Act.

Flag design

The Franco-Ontarian flag consists of two vertical bands. The first band is green with a white lily. This flower represents the French-speaking community worldwide. The second band is white with a green trillium, the provincial flower of Ontario.

Image of the Franco-Ontarian flag described above

Green was chosen by the designers to evoke summer, while the use of white brings to mind winter. Together the two colours represent the two poles of Ontario’s climate.

The green border you see on the flag here is used for contrast. It does not appear on the actual flag.

Get the flag on your licence plate

Get an Ontario licence plate with the Franco-Ontarian flag on it.

It’s one of the licence-plate graphics you can order online from ServiceOntario. Find it in the heritage section to see what it looks like.

30+ years

Your right to receive government services in French in Ontario is protected by the French Language Services Act. See the major steps taken since that law was passed in Ontario.

201630th anniversary of French Language Services Act
2015Commemoration of 400 years of French presence in Ontario
2014French Language Services Commissioner starts reporting to Legislative Assembly of Ontario
2011New regulation means third parties delivering services on behalf of government must provide services in French
2010Ontario recognizes September 25th as Franco-Ontarian Day
2009Ontario broadens definition of Francophone to include people whose mother tongue is not French, but who use French at home (raising population to 582,695)
2007Creation of the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner to ensure ongoing compliance with the French Language Services Act (FLSA)
2005Ontario creates the Ontario Francophonie Awards (holding first awards in 2006)
2003Ontarians may now request licence plates displaying the Franco-Ontarian flag
2001Franco-Ontarian flag made an official emblem of province
1997Ontario creates 12 French-language school boards
1989French Language Services Act comes into effect on November 12
1987TVOntario’s La Chaîne française, now known as TFO, begins broadcasting
1986French Language Services Act passed by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, leading to creation of the Office of Francophone Affairs