The Provincial Plaque Program is the Trust's oldest and perhaps best-known activity. Over 1,270 provincial plaques have been unveiled – including 22 international plaques. The plaques make Ontario's history come alive by telling stories of the people, places and events that helped shape our province. They enrich our sense of place. They also introduce newcomers and visitors to the unique character of each region of the province.

For over 50 years now, provincial plaques have told the stories of such diverse topics as:

  • Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Ross Tubman
  • the fascinating underwater Huron Fish Weirs in Orillia
  • grocery pioneer and philanthropist Theodore P. Loblaw
  • civil rights activist Hugh Burnett who, with the National Unity Association, convinced the government of Ontario to pass legislation in the 1950s that influenced today’s Ontario Human Rights Code
  • the first female Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Pauline McGibbon
  • Dr. James Naismith, creator of the game of basketball
  • silent screen star Mary Pickford
  • the physician who, working with Banting and Best, was a co-discoverer of insulin – Dr. James Bertram Collip
  • the tragedy of The Canada Steamship Lines passenger cruiser Noronic in 1949 when the ship burned in Toronto harbour, killing 119 people
  • the 1858 convention held in Chatham by John Brown, the American abolitionist seeking support for the liberation of slaves in the United States
  • the establishment of Ontario’s first French-language radio station (CFCL) in Timmins
  • the oldest wooden lighthouse on the Canadian shore of Lake Erie, in Port Burwell
  • Chloe Cooley, a Black slave from Queenston forcibly taken by her owner and sold in the United States in 1793, who prompted John Graves Simcoe to pass the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada – an early step in the abolition of slavery
  • the unique structure of the Sharon Temple, near Newmarket, built in 1825-31 for the Children of Peace
  • the fur trading at Saugeen, a Hudson’s Bay Company post near present-day Southampton, which helped define regions, encourage economic growth and promote exploration
  • the Brent Crater, a three-kilometre-wide crater thought to have been caused by a meteorite 450 million years ago

Since 1982, the Trust has provided both French and English text for all new and replacement plaques. Plaques may also be created in additional languages (e.g., Mandarin, Mohawk, Ojibwe, Gaelic, etc.).

The Trust works in partnership with community groups, governments and corporations across Ontario on provincial plaque initiatives. Please contact us to discuss your ideas.

Over the next several years, the Trust will focus on a thematic approach comprising specific themes and key commemorations, summarized below. The Trust is currently encouraging provincial plaque applications for subjects that fall within one of the themes and/or key commemorations during the identified years:

2018Equality and a fair society
Peace and women’s suffrage
2019Communications80th anniversary of the Television Exhibit at the Canadian National Exhibition; plus the 200th anniversary of Barnum House
2020Environment50th anniversary of the creation of Polar Bear Provincial Park (1970) – the largest park in Ontario; plus the 120th anniversary of the Art Gallery of Ontario (opened in 1900 as the Art Museum of Toronto)
2021Design100th anniversary of OCADU
2022Agriculture100th anniversary of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair; plus the platinum jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the 230th anniversary of the First Royal Tour
2023Music100th anniversary of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (then called the New Symphony Orchestra), who gave their first concert at Massey Hall in April 1923; plus the 100th anniversary of the Williams Treaties

In addition, the Trust encourages provincial plaque applications for subjects following these priority themes:

  • Aboriginal heritage
  • Celebrations of diversity and identity
  • Community leaders and innovators
  • Environment and natural heritage
  • Human rights and equality
  • Sports and leisure
  • Women’s history

Subjects that fall outside of these priority areas will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

In 1956, the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario began erecting plaques to stimulate public awareness of, and pride in, Ontario's past. In 1974, the Sites Board was incorporated into the Ontario Heritage Foundation. The Foundation (which became the Ontario Heritage Trust in 2005) assumed responsibility for the Provincial Plaque Program, working in partnership with heritage-minded community groups, non-profit organizations, municipalities and corporations throughout the province.