SOUTHERN ONTARIO. Part of the Canadian province of Ontario considered as a dialect area that runs along the northern shore of the lower Great Lakes from Windsor on the Detroit River to Kingston at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. Because it is the most populous and wealthiest part of Canada, its usage preferences have generally been taken as normative for CANADIAN ENGLISH and treated not as a ‘dialect’ but as the ‘language’. Originally known as the colony of Upper Canada (contrasted with Lower Canada below the rapids at Montreal), southern Ontario came to dominate British North America after 1815 when its border with the US was ascertained. Neighbouring border cities, connected by road bridges across the waterway, are linguistically distinct despite shared broadcast media and regular travel from one country to the other: Sarnia (Ontario) and Port Huron (Michigan), Windsor and Detroit (Michigan), Port Erie and Buffalo (New York), Kingston and Watertown (New York). The linguistic boundary is as sharp as the political one: for example, CanE merger of the vowels of Don and dawn is restricted to the northern shore. See DIALECT (CANADA).
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