Ontario Territorial Division

Ontario Territorial Division

The varying structures of municipal and regional governments in Ontario can sometimes be confusing, as they result from a variety of approaches to local government, implemented at different times by different provincial governments in specific areas to serve specific needs. The territorial division of Ontario into counties and districts and urban, municipal and regional areas by Territorial Division Act, 2002

Association of Municipalities of Ontario


There is a list of Ontario Municipalities that provides the names of all 444 Ontario municipalities based on the latest information provided to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This is the most complete list of Ontario municipal sites anywhere on the Internet.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing


The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s goal is an Ontario made up of safe and strong urban and rural communities with dynamic local economies, abundant green space and a quality of life that is second to none. The ministry promotes accountable local governments that are able to plan, manage and invest for the future. The ministry works to strengthen Ontario communities by promoting a housing market that serves the full range of housing needs, protects tenants, and encourages private sector building. The ministry also provides opportunities for supportive programs for low-income tenants and housing for special-needs tenants, and supports the creation of affordable housing.

List of Ontario Municipalities



A single-tier municipality is governed by one municipal administration, with neither a county nor regional government above it, nor further municipal subdivisions below it. A single-tier municipality is either a former regional municipality or a former county, whose municipal governments were amalgamated in the 1990s into a single administration.

With the exception of Greater Sudbury, single-tier municipalities are found only in Southern Ontario.

Brant (Status: City, January 1, 1999)
Brantford (Status: City)
Chatham-Kent (Status: City, formerly County of Kent)
Greater Sudbury (Status: City, January 1, 2001)
Haldimand (Status: Town, January 1, 2001)
Hamilton (Status: City, January 1, 2001)
Norfolk (Status: Town, January 1, 2001)
Ottawa (Status: City, January 1, 2001)
Prince Edward (Status: City, January 1, 1998)
Toronto (Status: City, January 1, 1998)
Kawartha Lakes (Status: City, January 1, 2001, formerly County of Victoria)


Regional municipalities (or regions) are upper-tier municipalities that generally have more servicing responsibilities than the counties. They generally provide the following services: maintenance and construction of arterial roads, transit, policing, sewer and water systems, waste disposal, region-wide land use planning and development, as well as health and social services. Regions are typically more urbanized than counties. Regional municipalities are usually implemented in census divisions where an interconnected cluster of urban centres forms the majority of the division’s area and population, but no single centre is overwhelmingly dominant over the others.

Regional municipalities are found only in Southern Ontario.

Current regional municipalities in Ontario, with regional seats listed in brackets:

  • Durham Reg. Municipality (Whitby)
  • Halton Reg. Municipality (Milton)
  • Muskoka District Municipality (Bracebridge)
  • Niagara Reg. Municipality (Thorold)
  • Oxford County (Woodstock)
  • Peel Reg. Municipality (Brampton)
  • Waterloo Reg. Municipality (Kitchener)
  • York Reg. Municipality (Newmarket)

Although Oxford County and the District Municipality of Muskoka are not called regions, they are defined as regional municipalities under Part 1, Section 1 of the “Ontario Municipal Act, 2001”.

Between 1998 and 2001, four regional municipalities that were dominated by a single city were amalgamated. In 1998, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto became the amalgamated City of Toronto. In 2001, the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton became the City of Ottawa, the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth became the City of Hamilton, and the Regional Municipality of Sudbury became the City of Greater Sudbury. At the same time, the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk was split into Haldimand County and Norfolk County.


Counties have fewer responsibilities than regions, as the lower-tier municipalities (cities, towns, villages, townships) within the counties typically provide the majority of municipal services to their residents. The responsibilities of county governments are generally limited to the following: maintenance and construction of arterial roads, health and social services, and county land use planning.

Counties are only found in Southern Ontario.

Counties may be as large as regional municipalities in population, but their population density is generally lower (although not as low as in a district.) Counties may include major cities, such as London, Kingston and Windsor, but these cities have generally not evolved into urban agglomerations with other communities, as in regions and “megacities”.

Counties may also include separated municipalities, communities that are considered part of the county for census purposes but are not administratively connected to the county. Municipalities are separated when regional or single-tier status is not appropriate for the municipality’s population patterns, but their population is still large enough that it may adversely affect the county’s ability to provide services to its smaller communities.

County seats are in brackets:

  • Bruce County (Walkerton)
  • Dufferin County (Orangeville)
  • Elgin County (St. Thomas)
  • Essex County (Essex)
  • Frontenac County (Kingston)
  • Grey County (Owen Sound)
  • Haliburton County (Minden)
  • Hastings County (Belleville)
  • Huron County (Goderich)
  • Lambton County (Wyoming)
  • Lanark County (Perth)
  • Leeds and Grenville United Counties (Brockville)
  • Lennox and Addington County (Nappanee)
  • Middlesex County (London)
  • Northumberland County (Cobourg)
  • Perth County (Stratford)
  • Peterborough County (Peterborough)
  • Prescott and Russell United Counties (L’Orignal)
  • Renfrew County (Pembroke)
  • Simcoe County (Barrie)
  • Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry United Counties (Cornwall)
  • Wellington County (Guelph)


Districts are regional areas in Northern Ontario that do not serve any municipal government purpose. Although districts do still contain incorporated cities, towns and townships, they do not have an upper-tier county or regional municipality level of government, and are largely composed of unorganized areas. Some districts may have District Social Service Administration Boards, which are designed to provide certain social services, but they do not serve a governmental function.

In a district, all services are provided either by the municipalities themselves, by local services boards in some communities within the unorganized areas, or directly by the provincial government. Much of Northern Ontario is sparsely populated, so a county government structure would not be an efficient or cost-effective method of administration.

District seats are in brackets:

  • Algoma District (Sault Ste. Marie)
  • Cochrane District (Cochrane)
  • Kenora District (Kenora)
  • Manitoulin District (Gore Bay)
  • Nipissing District (North Bay)
  • Parry Sound District (Parry Sound)
  • Rainy River District (Fort Frances)
  • Sudbury District (Espanola)
  • Thunder Bay District (Thunder Bay)
  • Timiskaming District (Haileybury)

Ontario Census Divisions

In the Canadian province of Ontario, there are three different types of census divisions: single-tier municipalities, upper-tier municipalities (which can be regional municipalities or counties) and districts. They differ primarily in the services that they provide to their residents.

Due to the vast disparities among Ontario’s different regions, it would be extremely difficult for a provincial government to apply a consistent, unified system across the entire province. In some cases, as well, a census division may retain its historical name even if it changes government type (e.g. Oxford County, Haldimand County, Norfolk County and Prince Edward County are no longer counties even though they retain “county” in their name; Oxford is a regional municipality and the others are single-tier municipalities.)

  1. Algoma (pop. 117,461)
  2. Brant (pop. 125,099)
  3. Bruce (pop. 65,349)
  4. Chatham-Kent (pop. 108,589)
  5. Cochrane (pop. 82,503)
  6. Dufferin (pop. 54,436)
  7. Durham (pop. 561,258)
  8. Elgin (pop. 85,351)
  9. Essex (pop. 393,402)
  10. Frontenac (pop. 143,865)
  11. Greater Sudbury (pop. 157,909)
  12. Grey (pop. 92,411)
  13. Haldimand (pop. 45,212)
  14. Haliburton (pop. 16,147)
  15. Halton (pop. 439,256)
  16. Hamilton (pop. 504,559)
  17. Hastings (pop. 130,474)
  18. Huron (pop. 59,325)
  19. Kawartha Lakes (pop. 74,561)
  20. Kenora (pop. 64,419)
  21. Lambton (pop. 128,204)
  22. Lanark (pop. 63,785)
  23. Leeds and Grenville (pop. 99,206)
  24. Lennox and Addington (pop. 40,542)
  25. Manitoulin (pop. 13,090)
  26. Middlesex (pop. 422,333)
  27. Muskoka (pop. 57,563)
  28. Niagara (pop. 427,421)
  29. Nipissing (pop. 84,688)
  30. Norfolk (pop. 62,563)
  31. Northumberland (pop. 80,963)
  32. Ottawa (pop. 812,129)
  33. Oxford (pop. 102,756)
  34. Parry Sound (pop. 40,918)
  35. Peel (pop. 1,159,405)
  36. Perth (pop. 74,344)
  37. Peterborough (pop. 133,080)
  38. Prescott and Russell (pop. 80,184)
  39. Prince Edward (pop. 25,496)
  40. Rainy River (pop. 21,564)
  41. Renfrew (pop. 97,545)
  42. Simcoe (pop. 422,204)
  43. Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (pop. 110,399)
  44. Sudbury (pop. 21,392)
  45. Thunder Bay (pop. 149,063)
  46. Timiskaming (pop. 33,283)
  47. Toronto (pop. 2,503,281)
  48. Waterloo (pop. 478,121)
  49. Wellington (pop. 200,425)
  50. York (pop. 892,712)

(The data above) is based on 2006 Community Profile by Statistics Canada from www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/profiles/community/Index.cfm?Lang=E)

  • http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page1591.aspx
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_municipalities_in_Ontario
  • http://www.amo.on.ca/
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_divisions_of_Ontario


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Author: AllOntario Team

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