Located in San Bernardino County, Ontario is home to a lot more than the Ontario International Airport. Although, the airport is certainly noteworthy as it is the 15th busiest cargo airport in the United States and one of the largest employers in the Inland Empire. Ontario Airport provides air freight traffic between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the rest of the country.
- Population 163,924
- Population Breakdown:
- White Persons 51%
- African American Persons 6.4%
- Native American Persons 1%
- Asian Persons 5.2%
- Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian Persons 0.3%
- Hispanic or Latino Persons 69%
Ontario’s fertile plains were once used for hunting and foraging by the Gabrieleño tribes. When Mexican and later of American settlers arrived active Native American settlements were scattered throughout the area. In 1834 the existing land holdings were transferred to private hands.
George and William Chaffey purchased the land and the water rights to it in 1881 with a plan to create a community and a drainage system which would allow farmers to water their crops while at the same time preventing the floods that periodically ruin them. The Chaffey Brothers also formed the main thoroughfare of Euclid Avenue as part of what they viewed as their “Model Colony.” This model community was originally planned as a dry town with early deeds containing clauses forbidding the manufacture or sale of alcoholic beverages within the town. The brothers named the town Ontario in honor of the province in Canada where they were born.
The city of Ontario was incorporated ten years later in 1891. Ontario grew quickly with the population increasing 10 times by the 1950’s. The population again grew 10 times more between 1960 and 2007. Ontario’s population began with a foundation of German and Swiss communities. The fertile soil and rich farming tradition drew tens of thousands of European immigrants to work in the area. In the early 1900s the first Filipinos and Japanese farm laborers arrived to continue their unique farming traditions in the area. While Ontario has over two centuries of Hispanic residents, the first wave of Mexican settlers arrived in the 1880s as railroad workers with another wave resulting from the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s.
Ontario is a mix of the old and new. Farming is still a vibrant part of Ontario’s culture but now the airport and many other industries have found their home there as well. Beautiful and serene on one hand and up and coming on the other, Ontario is a city to watch.