Regional Municipality of Durham

Last updated
Durham Region
Regional Municipality of Durham
Darlington Provincial Park bay.jpg
Flowers in Oshawa IMG 2068 (42905650154).jpg
Whitby harbour.jpg
Ajax Waterfront (185103165).jpeg
Uxbridge downtown.jpg
Nautical Village Blossoms.jpg
Clockwise from top right: Oshawa, Ajax Waterfront Park, Nautical Village in Pickering, Uxbridge, Whitby Harbour, Darlington Provincial Park
Flag of the Regional Municipality of Durham.svg
Logo of the Durham Region, Ontario.svg
"A Great Place to Grow"
Map of Ontario DURHAM.svg
Map showing Durham Region's location in Ontario
Coordinates: 43°55′N78°56′W / 43.917°N 78.933°W / 43.917; -78.933 Coordinates: 43°55′N78°56′W / 43.917°N 78.933°W / 43.917; -78.933
Province Ontario
Established1974 [note 1]
Seat Whitby
Governing body
John Henry
Durham Regional Council
 (2016) [1]
  Land2,523.80 km2 (974.44 sq mi)
91.3 m (299.5 ft)
 (2021) [2]
  Density255.9/km2 (663/sq mi)
Time zone UTC−05:00 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (EDT)

The Regional Municipality of Durham ( /ˈdʊərəm/ ), informally referred to as Durham Region, is a regional municipality in Southern Ontario, Canada. Located east of Toronto and the Regional Municipality of York, Durham forms the east-end of the Greater Toronto Area and part of the Golden Horseshoe region. It has an area of approximately 2,500 km2 (970 sq mi). The regional government is headquartered in Whitby.


The southern portion of the region, on Lake Ontario is primarily suburban in nature, forming the eastern end of the 905 area code belt of suburbs around Toronto. The northern area comprises rural areas and small towns. The city of Pickering, town of Ajax and the township of Uxbridge are part of the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area, while the communities of Oshawa, Whitby, and Clarington comprise the Oshawa Census Metropolitan Area.

Administrative divisions

Durham Region consists of the following municipalities (in order of population):

Municipality2021 Population [3]
City of Oshawa 175,383
Town of Whitby 138,501
Town of Ajax 126,666
Municipality of Clarington 101,427
City of Pickering 99,186
Township of Scugog 21,581
Township of Uxbridge 21,556
Township of Brock 12,567

It also contains one First Nations reserve: Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

Local government


The Region of Durham was established in 1974 as one of several new regional governments in the Province of Ontario, primarily in fast-growing urban and suburban areas. It encompasses areas that had been part of Ontario County and the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham, and was the culmination of a series of studies into municipal governance in the "Oshawa-Centred Region" that had begun in the late 1960s.

The boundaries of the region were different from what had been anticipated and announced in late 1972. For example, it was widely expected that Pickering would be annexed to Metropolitan Toronto, which residents had supported in a ballot question. In addition, the region was proposed to extend further east to include Hope Township and the town of Port Hope, and did not include the northern townships of Scott, Brock and Thorah.


Under the Köppen climate classification, the Durham Region has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb). On average July is the hottest month while January is the coldest month.

Climate data for Bowmanville Mostert (Clarington)
Climate ID: 6150830; coordinates 43°55′N78°40′W / 43.917°N 78.667°W / 43.917; -78.667 (Bowmanville Mostert) ; elevation 99.1 m (325 ft), 1981–2010 normals
Record high °C (°F)13.0
Average high °C (°F)−1.4
Daily mean °C (°F)−5.6
Average low °C (°F)−9.9
Record low °C (°F)−34.0
Average precipitation mm (inches)63.1
Average rainfall mm (inches)32.2
Average snowfall cm (inches)31.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)12.510.811.212.512.212.010.411.513.013.014.313.0146.4
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)
Source: Environment Canada [4]
Climate data for Oshawa WCPC
Climate ID: 6155878; coordinates 43°52′N78°50′W / 43.867°N 78.833°W / 43.867; -78.833 (Oshawa WCPC) , elevation: 83.8 m (275 ft); 1981−2010 normals
Record high °C (°F)14.0
Average high °C (°F)−1.1
Daily mean °C (°F)−4.8
Average low °C (°F)−8.5
Record low °C (°F)−30.5
Average precipitation mm (inches)65.6
Average rainfall mm (inches)30.0
Average snowfall cm (inches)35.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)13.610.411.012.812.810.810.611.212.113.514.412.6145.7
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)
Source: Environment Canada [5]


Historical populations
1996 458,616+12.1%
2001 506,901+10.5%
2006 561,258+10.7%
2011 608,124+8.4%
2016 645,862+6.2%
2016 [6] , 2011 [7] , 2006 [8] , earlier [9] [9] [10]

As a census division in the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Regional Municipality of Durham had a population of 696,992 living in 243,048 of its 250,559 total private dwellings, a change of

Panethnic groups in the Regional Municipality of Durham (2001−2021)
2021 [12] 2016 [13] 2011 [14] 2006 [15] 2001 [16]
Pop. %Pop.%Pop.%Pop.%Pop.%
European [lower-alpha 1] 426,250453,630468,455457,340436,080
South Asian 92,31555,02534,09024,11014,830
African 66,03551,38041,89033,30022,545
Southeast Asian [lower-alpha 2] 23,36516,92514,2509,0605,220
East Asian [lower-alpha 3] 19,54514,68511,13010,2607,845
Middle Eastern [lower-alpha 4] 18,36512,3457,0555,6553,305
Indigenous 13,79512,5358,9056,5704,305
Latin American 8,1056,1354,3653,1002,090
Other [lower-alpha 5] 23,58016,85511,4807,9256,680
Total responses691,355639,495601,605557,330502,905
Total population696,992645,862608,124561,258506,901
Note: Totals greater than 100% due to multiple origin responses


The regional government, within its geographic area, has sole responsibility for the following:

The region also provides services in:

Local municipalities have responsibility for:


With a current population of 700,000, the population is expected to exceed one million by 2041. [17] Of considerable potential impact to the future of the economy in Durham Region is the proposed federal airport in north Pickering. The federal government acquired 18,600 acres of land in Pickering under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1972 for the construction of a future airport. However, the project has remained in limbo since and much of the land has been leased for farming. [18] In January 2018, a report released by Urban Strategies, Inc. indicated that the Pickering airport lands provide the best opportunity to meet the growing demand for air travel and goods movement in the Greater Toronto Area, demand that Toronto Pearson airport will eventually be unable to accommodate. [19]

As of December 2016, Durham Region had over 250 energy, environment and engineering (EN3) related businesses that employed over 11,000 individuals, making Durham Region the top employer of EN3 professionals in the Greater Toronto and Hamiton Area (GTHA). [20]

Durham Region's agricultural sector is one of the largest primary goods-producing sectors in the region. [21] The agriculture sector is supported by local organizations such as Durham Farm Fresh who assist in the marketing, promotion, and advocacy for local food.

The film industry is active and growing in Durham Region, due to increasing demands for locations and talent across Ontario. [22] In June 2015, a major film studio development was announced in Pickering. [23] Canada’s largest film industry backlot opened in Pickering in late 2021. [24]

The innovative technology sector is emerging in Durham Region, supported by a Regional Innovation Centre in Oshawa and a technology accelerator in Whitby. [25] [26] Whitby is the location of the headquarters of 360 Insights a significant employer in Durham Region. [27]

83 percent of Durham residents over 18 have a certificate, diploma or degree. [28]

The unemployment rate is 5.4% as of March 2022. [29] Emerging employment sectors in Durham Region include sustainable energy, local food production, bio-sciences, next-generation automotive, logistics, advanced manufacturing, construction, and technology. [30]

Major employers in Durham Region include General Motors of Canada, Ontario Power Generation, Lakeridge Health, Durham District School Board, Durham College, the Ontario Ministry of Finance, Minacs Worldwide, TDS Automotive, and University of Ontario Institute of Technology. [31]

Manufacturing and energy industries

Vehicles being assembled at the General Motors factory in Oshawa, Ontario. Tour of GM's Oshawa Car Assembly plant, 2011-06-10, IMG 7434 (47647478741).jpg
Vehicles being assembled at the General Motors factory in Oshawa, Ontario.

Durham Region is a major centre of the automotive industry in Canada. Oshawa is the Canadian headquarters of General Motors and home of what was once GM's largest plant in North America. In addition, the Canadian headquarters of Volkswagen is located in the region, BMW was located in the region until moving to Richmond Hill in 2010. The worldwide recession and spike in oil prices resulted in large-scale layoffs at GM beginning in 2008, along with the closure of the Oshawa Truck plant in 2009. This dramatically reduced employment levels at GM, and also resulted in significant employment losses and closures in the auto parts industry. On November 26, 2018, General Motors announced that no future product would be allotted to Oshawa beyond 2019 and that manufacturing operations would cease in December 2019. In October 2019, General Motors announced the construction of a 55-acre autonomous vehicle test track in Oshawa to be named the Canadian Technical Centre (CTC) McLaughlin Advanced Technology Track. [32] GM Canada then reopened the plant in Oshawa and began manufacturing trucks in November 2021. [33]

Durham Region is the Clean Energy Capital of Canada. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is the largest employer in the region. OPG is Canada's largest owner of nuclear power plants with responsibility for operating the Pickering A, B, and Darlington nuclear generating stations, all of which are located in Durham Region. In June 2019 OPG announced it would be building a new corporate campus in Durham Region, in the Municipality of Clarington, by 2024. [34] Ontario Tech University offers the first accredited program of its kind in Canada with an undergraduate degree program in Nuclear Engineering. It is also a leader is Energy Systems and Nuclear Science programs. The Clean Energy Research Lab (CERL) is a facility focused on pioneering clean energy research. [35]


Major shopping centres located in Durham Region include:


400-series freeways

Other highways

Note: This is the only region of the Greater Toronto Area where the Trans-Canada Highway passes through. The TC's Central Ontario Route enters from the northeast at Manilla along Highway 7, makes an abrupt turn near Sunderland onto Highway 12 heading north towards Beaverton and the northern regional boundary.

Public transportation

Public transit in the Region is operated by Durham Region Transit, which was formed in January 2006 when the five preexisting municipal public transit systems in the region were merged under the Region's administration.

A DRT bus awaits passengers at the Ajax GO station Durham Region Transit 8172-a.jpg
A DRT bus awaits passengers at the Ajax GO station

In addition, GO Transit provides the following services within the Region:

Air travel

Although small airports such as the Oshawa Executive Airport exist in Durham Region, the main airport serving the region is Toronto Pearson International Airport. There is a long-standing proposal for a major new airport in Pickering.

Maritime Infrastructure

Durham Region also has a small maritime industry centered on the Port of Oshawa. The port received around 50 lake freighters per year between 2007 and 2017 and acts as an export terminal for agricultural products from Durham and nearby regions.


The Durham District School Board operates all English-language secular public schools within Durham Region, except for those schools within Clarington, which are part of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. This is a holdover from the pre-1974 structure in which the area now forming Clarington was part of Durham County, while the other municipalities were part of Ontario County.

The Durham Catholic District School Board operates the separate English-language public Catholic school system within Durham Region, again with the exception of schools in Clarington, which are part of the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board.

Neither school board is an operating division of the regional government. Instead, as is true of all school boards in Ontario, they are separate entities with distinct but overlapped service areas. Elected public trustees responsible for their operation.

French-language school boards serving the municipality include the Conseil scolaire Viamonde and the Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir.

Durham Secondary Academy and Middle School offers private elementary and secondary education for students in the Region of Durham.

The region also is home to Ontario Tech University, Ontario's fastest growing university[ citation needed ], Durham College, and Trent University Durham (Trent University's main campus is in Peterborough). The Ontario Tech and Durham College main campuses are located in north Oshawa. Durham College also has a satellite campus in Whitby, and Ontario Tech has one in Downtown Oshawa.

Durham College, IMG 0933 (20957220976).jpg
Durham College Whitby Campus.JPG
Durham College has two campuses in Durham Region, the Oshawa Campus (left), located in North Oshawa, and the Whitby Campus (right), located in south Whitby.

Ontario Tech University is a science, technology engineering and math (STEM)-focused, research driven institution. Ontario Tech is home to the [ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel, a research, development and testing facility available for rent to manufacturers of all descriptions, startup companies and researchers in Canada and around the globe. Ontario Tech University is rated number 1 in cross-sector research among Canadian undergraduate universities. Within 15 years of its founding, Ontario Tech quickly earned a reputation for computer science, ranking among the top 10 programs in Canada and 4th in Ontario. [37]

Durham College has campuses in Oshawa and Whitby, and has nine academic schools across a wide range of disciplines. [38]

Trent University Durham offers full and part-time undergraduate programs, as well as post-graduate certificates. Other key programs at Trent University Durham include Bachelors of Business Administration, Computing Systems, and Communications & Critical Thinking as well as a Master of Management, which is a 16 month professional master program. Trent University Durham announced in 2019 plans to expand their campus in Oshawa to include 200 on-campus residences, "creative learning spaces"[ clarification needed ], and academic space. [39]

Travel region

Durham Region lies within the Central Counties of Ontario, a tourism-related association. [40]

The top tourist attractions in Durham Region include Lake Ontario, Lake Scugog and Lake Simcoe, in particular for fishing. [41] Outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing are popular in the region, in particular in Uxbridge, Ontario, which calls itself the Trail Capital of Canada. [42] Darlington Provincial Park, Jungle Cat World, Parkwood Estate, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and the Canadian Automotive Museum are other popular attractions. [43]

Tourism is a significant economic sector in Durham Region. Durham Region currently hosts more than four million visitors each year, who spend over $300 million. [44] A casino resort is under development in Durham Region which will include a casino resort, convention centre, film studios, indoor waterpark, cinemas, restaurants, office tower and an amphitheatre. [45] [46]

See also


  1. Statistic includes all persons that did not make up part of a visible minority or an indigenous identity.
  2. Statistic includes total responses of "Filipino" and "Southeast Asian" under visible minority section on census.
  3. Statistic includes total responses of "Chinese", "Korean", and "Japanese" under visible minority section on census.
  4. Statistic includes total responses of "West Asian" and "Arab" under visible minority section on census.
  5. Statistic includes total responses of "Visible minority, n.i.e." and "Multiple visible minorities" under visible minority section on census.
  1. Ontario County, and portions of the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham were amalgamated in 1974 to form the regional municipality. The Durham portion of the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham was initially established as Durham County in 1792, before it was amalgamated with Northumberland County in 1850 to form the United Counties. Ontario County was formed from York County in 1852. The two counties operated until 1974 when they were dissolved, and Ontario County and the Durham portion of the United Counties were amalgamated to form the regional municipality.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ajax, Ontario</span> Town in Ontario, Canada

Ajax is a town in Durham Region in Southern Ontario, Canada, located in the eastern part of the Greater Toronto Area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oshawa</span> City in Ontario, Canada

Oshawa is a city in Ontario, Canada, on the Lake Ontario shoreline. It lies in Southern Ontario, approximately 60 km (37 mi) east of Downtown Toronto. It is commonly viewed as the eastern anchor of the Greater Toronto Area and of the Golden Horseshoe. It is the largest municipality in the Regional Municipality of Durham. The name Oshawa originates from the Ojibwa term aazhawe, meaning "the crossing place" or just "a cross".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Whitby, Ontario</span> Town in Ontario, Canada

Whitby is a town in Durham Region. Whitby is located in Southern Ontario east of Ajax and west of Oshawa, on the north shore of Lake Ontario and is home to the headquarters of Durham Region. It had a population of 138,501 at the 2021 census. It is approximately 20 km (12 mi) east of the eastern border of Toronto, and it is known as a commuter suburb in the Greater Toronto Area. While the southern portion of Whitby is predominantly urban and an economic hub, the northern part of the municipality is more rural and includes the communities of Ashburn, Brooklin, Myrtle, Myrtle Station, and Macedonian Village.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pickering, Ontario</span> City in Ontario, Canada

Pickering is a city located in Southern Ontario, Canada, immediately east of Toronto in Durham Region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clarington</span> Municipality in Ontario, Canada

Clarington is a lower-tier municipality in the Regional Municipality of Durham in Ontario, Canada. It was incorporated in 1973 as the town of Newcastle with the merging of the town of Bowmanville, the Village of Newcastle and the townships of Clarke and Darlington, and was established on January 1 1974. In 1993, the town was renamed Clarington, a portmanteau of the names of the two former townships. Darlington today is largely suburban, while Clarke remains largely rural. Bowmanville is the largest community in the municipality and is the home of the municipal offices.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greater Toronto Area</span> Metropolitan area in Ontario, Canada

The Greater Toronto Area, commonly referred to as the GTA, includes the City of Toronto and the regional municipalities of Durham, Halton, Peel, and York. In total, the region contains 25 urban, suburban, and rural municipalities. The Greater Toronto Area begins in Burlington in Halton Region, and extends along Lake Ontario past downtown Toronto eastward to Clarington in Durham Region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Golden Horseshoe</span> Secondary region in Ontario, Canada

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Bowmanville is a town of approximately 40,000 people located in the Municipality of Clarington, Durham Region, Ontario, Canada. It is approximately 75 km (47 mi) east of Toronto, and 15 km (9.3 mi) east of Oshawa along Highway 2. Bowmanville was first incorporated as a town in 1858, but later incorporated with the neighbouring townships of Clarke and Darlington in 1974 forming the Town of Newcastle, which was renamed in 1994 to the Municipality of Clarington. Bowmanville is part of the Greater Toronto Area.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Durham Region Transit</span> Regional public transportation agency in Durham Region, Ontario, Canada

Durham Region Transit (DRT) is the regional public transit operator in Durham Region, Ontario, Canada, east of Toronto. Its headquarters are at 605 Rossland Rd East in Whitby, Ontario, and there are regional centres in Ajax, Whitby, and Oshawa. It was formed by the merger of Ajax/Pickering Transit, Whitby Transit, Oshawa Transit, and Clarington Transit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Durham (electoral district)</span> Federal electoral district in Ontario, Canada

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oshawa GO Station</span> Railway station in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

Durham College Oshawa GO station is a station for commuter rail, passenger rail and regional bus services in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. It is the terminal station for the Lakeshore East line of GO Transit and serves Via Rail's Corridor service, which travels from Toronto to both Ottawa and Montreal. The bus terminal is served by bus routes of GO Transit and Durham Region Transit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Durham Regional Police Service</span> Police agency of Durham Region, Ontario, Canada

The Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) is the police service operated by and serving the Regional Municipality of Durham, Ontario, Canada. The DRPS has a strength of over 900 sworn officers and over 300 unsworn members, and serves the following local municipalities, with a combined population of 706,200:

Fire services in Durham Region, Ontario, Canada, are provided by each municipality. There are 27 fire stations across the region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ashburn, Ontario</span> Unincorporated community in Ontario, Canada

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Italian Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area</span>

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Durham Regional Council is the political body for the Regional Municipality of Durham in Ontario, Canada. Created in 1974, it consists of 29 elected representatives, including the Regional Chair. Durham Region is governed by Durham Regional Council, which consists of the mayors of the local municipalities and regional councillors directly elected in each municipality. These members are elected via double direct election. Each municipality elects the following number of regional councillors:

Durham–Scarborough bus rapid transit (DSBRT) is a future bus rapid transit corridor proposed by Metrolinx for the eastern part of the Greater Toronto Area in Southern Ontario, Canada. The 36-kilometre (22 mi) bus corridor will run from downtown Oshawa to Scarborough Town Centre in Toronto, mainly along Durham Region Highway 2 in Durham Region and Ellesmere Road in the Scarborough district of Toronto. Dedicated bus lanes will be used where feasible. Buses of the Toronto Transit Commission, Durham Region Transit and GO Transit would use the busway. Metrolinx has indicated that the BRT could be easily converted to LRT in the future if required.

Elections were held in the Regional Municipality of Durham in Ontario, on October 24, 2022, in conjunction with municipal elections across the province. Registration for candidates officially opened on Monday, May 2, 2022, and the deadline for candidate nominations is Friday, August 19 at 2 p.m.


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