French Canadians began settling in Ontario at the beginning of the 18th century with the establishment of an agricultural settlement on the site that is now Windsor, Ontario. It was almost a century later that this small colony expanded and further settlements were created to meet the demand for industrial labour as Ontario developed. The majority of Franco-Ontarians settled in the area between Ottawa and the Québec border, and this remains the region with the highest concentration of French-speaking people and those of French origin. As of 1981, Franco-Ontarians made up 7.5% of Ontario’s population, of whom about two-thirds spoke French as their mother tongue. In the 20th century the question of language rights in education was a primary concern of the Franco-Ontarian community. Franco-Ontarians pressed for, and won, the legal right to French-language education, which allowed French-language schools to join the public system.
The French-language newspaper Le Rempart began publishing in Windsor in 1966 and continues to publish as of 2010. In spite of its distance from the current Franco-Ontarian heartland, the Windsor area retains a large French-speaking community. The community benefited from the gradual introduction of multicultural and bilingual rights legislation over the last half of the 20th century, particularly the right to education. The small sample of Le Rempart available here (1983 and 1984) shows its main concerns to be the political empowerment of the French speaking minority, community activities and the arts.
Contributed by Multicultural History Society of Ontario.