When Was Ontario First Established?

Ontario, California was originally formed in 1882 with the establishment of a model colony by the Chaffey Brothers, who had bought the land and named it after their hometown of Ontario, Canada. The formation of a water district led to quick economic growth, and by 1883, Euclid Avenue (where our modern day downtown still sits!) was finished.

Early Stages of Growth

Throughout the late 1800s, Ontario continued to grow. During this time, a small agricultural college was formed, and in 1887, the Southern Pacific Railroad began to provide services to Ontario.

In 1889, two industries arrived in the city that would become essential. John S. Armstrong of what is now Armstrong Garden Centers came to town, and separately, the citrus industry began to boom. During this year, they had the second largest citrus acreage in the United States, and the first railcar of oranges were shipped out of state.

Shortly thereafter, in 1891, Ontario was officially incorporated as a city. The population at the time was only 550 people.

The last decade of the 1800s showed more growth in the citrus and produce trade, while other mainstays of city life also began to get established. An electric company, fire department, and hotel were all developed at this time.

Continued Farming and Industry Growth

In the first two decades of the 20th century, Ontario only continued to expand. The first dairies were established during this time, and the citrus business continued to be the backbone of the agricultural industry.

In 1919, Ontario’s first temporary airport was set up to accommodate soldiers arriving home from WWI. In fact, the first California man to be killed during WWI was an Ontario man by the name of Ralph T. Kingery.

As the first half of the 1900s progressed, Ontario maintained its advancement as a steadily growing city. Important historical buildings that still stand today, such as the Granada Theater, were constructed during this time.

The 1920’s were a significant decade for the city of Ontario. In 1926, the first Sunkist factory was built and in 1928, the permanent airfield, which still stands today as Ontario Airport, was established. By 1930, Ontario’s population had grown to nearly 15,000 people.

In 1941, Ontario entered its first float into the now infamous Rose Parade. Though no awards were won, this action built a stronger sense of community amongst the people, and Ontario has entered a float every single year since.

Ontario Today

Today, Ontario has a population of around 185,000 residents. The economy is still powered by the agricultural industry, while the shipping and manufacturing industries have also played a major role in the economic growth.

The future of Downtown Ontario is bright – with the newly proposed Downtown Ontario Improvement Association(DOIA), our goal is to continuously keep Downtown Ontario clean, safe, and family-friendly.