The Ontario Community
Ontario is a child of the railroad. The railroad was the Oregon Short Line, which was built west from Wyoming to connect Oregon with the rest of the United States. The line joined at Huntington with the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company’s tracks built east from Portland.
The first site of a town in this vicinity was at the “Siding” south of the present town. On June 11, 1883, William Morfitt, James W. Virtue, Daniel Smith and Mrs. Mary Richardson each exercised their desert land right on four sections that had a common meeting point: behind the old Ontario city hall. The site was then surveyed by Morfitt and Ontario was on its way.
There are several different versions as to how Ontario received its name, although everyone is agreed the name was bestowed by James W. Virtue in honor of his home province: Ontario, Canada.
When you need to shop, attend a cultural event, or obtain professional services, you will enjoy Ontario. Serving as the retail, service, and medical center for 167,000 people within a 45-mile radius, Ontario provides a great place for residents to meet for a meal at one of our many restaurants. Delicious dining choices include Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Chinese and Euro-American recipes, as well as good old-fashioned, “home cooked” meals.
The Four Rivers Cultural Center has events with a wide variety of historical and ethnic interest. It features a museum that will take you back into time to observe life in the frontier days in Ontario and the surrounding area. A Japanese garden provides visitors with a beautiful and tranquil atmosphere for observation and contemplation. A 600-seat theater offers stage productions for drama, music, conventions, and other group events.
Treasure Valley Community College provides educational, athletic, musical, and cultural activities for students and the public. The college has excellent relationships with several nearby four-year colleges and with many of the area high schools. It gives an academic environment for people to pursue their dreams. Ontario School District 8C includes a high school, a middle school and five elementary schools for 2,800 students. There is Four Rivers Community School – a charter school and couple of private schools such as Treasure Valley Christian School serving students, kindergarten through eighth grade, two head start programs serving around 250 students, and several day care/pre-school centers. A local association provides support for home schooling families. An extension of Eastern Oregon University is housed in the Four Rivers Cultural Center next to the Oregon State University Extension Service building. Offering another great addition to the great education opportunities to our youth and community.
Ontario, located in Oregon’s only county inside the Mountain time zone, has an agriculturally-based economy. Crops include onions, potatoes, sugar beets, corn, alfalfa, mint, seeds, grain, and hay. The locally raised livestock includes cattle, sheep, llamas, and buffalo. Trucking companies, as well as Union Pacific rail lines, help transport these commodities and processed food products to markets throughout the nation and world.
Medical facilities are excellent. Ontario offers a variety of medical offices cover many areas of the medical field, everything from dialysis to dentistry. The Saint Alphonsus Medical Center Ontario offers a 49-bed acute care wing and a level III trauma center. A Life Flight service can deliver patients for tertiary care to two regional hospitals within 30 minutes of air time. The Saint Alphonsus Medical Center of Ontario provides all primary care services and most surgical sub-specialties. St. Luke’s Medical Center has also established a clinic in the area to further service the residents of the Treasure Valley. Ontario offers everything from medical clinics to modern nursing home, and several specialty medical, dental and pharmaceutical facilities help complete the medical community. Several assisted-living facilities are also situated in Ontario. Special provisions such as transportation and housing, are available for seniors, the disabled and low-income families.
Federal, state, and county agencies are located in Ontario as well as the city council, mayor and staff that serve the public. Interstate 84, Oregon Highways 20/26, 30, and 201 all pass through Ontario. U.S. Highway 95, which goes north and south in Idaho and in Oregon, connects with Ontario via the Snake River bridge. These highways make it easy to get to Ontario’s recreational areas and the near-by major cities.
An Oregon National Guard facility is also located in Ontario. The National Guard facility offers use of the building for events as well as training for the local National Unit. A local general aviation airport offers charter service and other fixed based operator services. One hour away in Boise, Idaho, there is a full commercial airport where several major airlines provide daily flights to medium and large cities in all compass directions.
Recreation opportunities are abound with a local 18-hole municipal golf course, movie theater with eight screens, bowling alley, fitness centers, Four Rivers Cultural Center Museum, and over 61 acres of parks, five municipal parks, one state park and skate park. Other area recreation includes swimming, water skiing, bicycling, boating, hunting, hiking, and fishing. Snow sports can also be found on nearby mountain slopes. Seasonal sporting activities and school athletic teams provide children and young adults competitive challenges. The city recreation department administers competitive challenges for several children and young adults. The city recreation department administers several sports leagues and recreational activities for children and adults.
Major local events include the America’s Global Village Festival, Japanese Obon Festival, Malheur County Fair, Winter Wonderland Parade, and Basque Dinner & Dance. The Malheur County Fairground hosts events year-round. Civic clubs sponsor a variety of activities and events that are both social and recreational. Snake River Sportsman Club is a hunter’s paradise; Pheasants Forever is involved in both recreation and conservation.
A wide diversity of religious groups provide opportunity for worship and volunteer work. There are thirty congregations of different persuasions. Ontario is the home of the only Buddhist temple in Eastern Oregon. Many activities are held by these spiritual groups, including city-wide events led by the local ministers association.
A host of civic and non-profit organizations provide volunteer services to meet the needs of the community. Child, youth, and adult groups focus on activities for many kinds of cultural, character building, fund raising, and supportive activities every week.
Local newspapers, radio stations, cable TV stations, and broadcast TV stations provide Ontario with a plethora of information and entertainment. Ontario schools are linked with other county municipalities in a wide-area network. Internet service providers give Ontario businesses and residents access to the world-wide web. The Southeast Oregon Library Network links the Ontario City/County Library with the TVCC, Vale, and Nyssa libraries, each of which are also connected to the internet. The City/County Library sponsors many activities for children and has a bookmobile serving the rural county areas during the spring, summer, and fall.
Housing exists for all types of people. Activities are available to meet everyone’s interests. Average annual temperatures in the winter are 42 F with average summer time temperature at 93 F. Ontario provides a majority of sunny days in our wonderful high desert climate. Ontario also has definite seasonal changes. The sunsets are fantastic, and most of the time, the clear night skies are filled with bright stars and a glowing moon.