Infographic: The French Presence in Ontario

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The French Presence in Ontario. Details in text following the infographic.
Text version: The French Presence in Ontario

Text version: The French Presence in Ontario

Ontario has the largest French-speaking community in Canada outside of Quebec. 

11% of the population (1,395,810 people) can speak both English and French.

French is the first official language of 4% of the population (542,388 people).

Using the Inclusive Definition of Francophone (IDF), the French-speaking population in Ontario is 611,500, or nearly 5% of the population.

(The IDF is used by the Ontario government and takes into account mother tongue, knowledge of official languages, and language(s) spoken at home.)

972,208 children are learning French in publicly funded English-language school boards.

797,313 students are enrolled in core French (41% of eligible enrolment). Of those, 32,938 are enrolled in extended French.

A record high of 174,895 students are enrolled in French immersion (9% of eligible enrolment).

In 2013–2014, over 100,540 students were enrolled in French-language schools (Kindergarten to Grade 12) in 12 school boards across Ontario.

Number of French-language educational institutions:

  • 343 elementary schools
  • 103 high schools
  • 2 colleges and 9 post-secondary institutions welcome more than 22,000 students

Where do francophones live?

Most Franco-Ontarians live in the eastern part of the province, in and around Ottawa. Other main areas include northeastern Ontario (Sudbury, North Bay) and central Ontario.

Economic regions: (percentage of the population whose first official language is French)

  • Ottawa: 42%
  • Kingston–Pembroke: 3%
  • Muskoka–Kawarthas: 1%
  • Toronto: 18%
  • Kitchener–Waterloo–Barrie: 4%
  • Hamilton–Niagara Peninsula: 5%
  • London: 1%
  • Windsor–Sarnia: 3%
  • Stratford–Bruce Peninsula: 0.4%
  • Northeast: 22%
  • Northwest: 1%

Where were they (francophones) born?

  • In Ontario: 59%
  • Elsewhere in Canada: 26%
  • Abroad: 15%

Where were French-speaking immigrants born?

  • 31% Europe
  • 20% Asia
  • 32% Africa
  • 17% Americas


  • Spring

Théâtre Action holds theatre festivals for young French-speaking Canadians at alternating sites in Sudbury and Ottawa.

Cinéfranco, founded in 1997, celebrates and promotes French-language films in Ontario.

  • March–April

La Nuit sur l’étang is a popular Francophone music festival that has been held in Sudbury since 1973.

  • May

The Franco-Ontarian Games are held in different parts of Ontario every year and are the largest gathering of young Franco-Ontarians in the province.

  • June

The Festival Franco-Ontarien is a major festival for Francophones and Francophiles held in Ottawa that celebrates Franco-Ontarian culture and community.

  • July

The Franco-Fête de Toronto has been celebrating the diversity of Francophone culture for over 30 years.

  • September

Franco-Ontarian Day is held on September 25.


The French presence in Ontario officially dates back to 1615 with the arrival of Samuel de Champlain. The Francophone population grew steadily in the 19th and early 20th centuries, mostly in eastern and north-eastern Ontario as a result of the forestry, mining and railway industries. The Association canadienne-française d’Éducation de l’Ontario (now called the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario) was created in 1910 to lobby for French language education rights in the province. In 1913, the French newspaper Le Droit was founded.

The Franco-Ontarian flag was adopted in 1975. TVOntario launched La Chaîne française in 1987, which became Télévision française de l’Ontario in 1995. The French Language Services Act was adopted in 1986, giving French legal status in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and guaranteeing the public the right to receive government services in French.

The Franco-Ontarian community has continued to flourish in the 21st century. For example, it rallied to save Monfort Hospital from closure in 2002. The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner was created in 2007, and in 2015, Franco-Ontarians proudly celebrated 400 years of history.



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