About OHFA

The History of the Ontario Heritage Fair Association

The Ontario Heritage Fairs Program (OHFA) is an educational initiative that provides an opportunity for students to explore parts of Canadian history or cultural heritage in a dynamic learning environment. Teachers, community educators, and families encourage students to use a variety of research methods to explore a topic of interest, and medium of choice, to tell their stories – about the land where they live, their personal family history, or their local community stories. Heritage Fairs are held in regions across the province, and culminate in a Provincial Showcase in June of each year. Our important fairs work helps provide a place where diverse communities across Ontario to come together. 

The Fairs Program is divided into three components. School or Community Fairs take place between February and April; Regional and Provincial Fairs are scheduled during April and early May.


The Development

– The Fairs Program began with a pilot Fair in Winnipeg in 1993.
– Five Fairs were held in 1995: Brandon, MB; Kamloops, BC; Kingston, ON; Moncton, NB; and Sherbrooke, QC .
– By 2000 the Fairs Program grew to include students in remote, rural and urban communities from every Canadian province and territory.
– Canada’s History (Canadian National History Society) currently coordinates the program at the national level.
Highlights of the Ontario Heritage Fairs Program
Ontario Regional Fairs
(listed in the order they joined the program)
1995 – Kingston
1997 – Sudbury, York (Aurora)
1998 – Hamilton-Wentworth
1999 – Keewatin-Patricia, Toronto East
2001 – Toronto Catholic
2003 – Thames Valley, Ottawa, Simcoe County
2004 – Durham, Kawartha Pine Ridge, Niagara Catholic, Toronto West, Niagara Public, North Bay
2005 – Trillium Lakelands, Peel
2006 – Algoma District, Grand Erie, Perth
The Fairs Program has had phenomenal growth and it is the Ontario Heritage Fairs Associations intention that every eligible student in Ontario will be provided with the opportunity to participate in a Fair or an on-line showcase during his or her years at school.
The Ontario Heritage Fairs Association is a charitable organization dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of Canadian history and its importance in shaping our future.
Ontario, with the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, added another initiative (Ontario Provincial Fairs) to its Fairs Program in 2004.
Kingston, ON was the location chosen for the first Ontario Provincial Heritage Fair. 100 students from different parts of Ontario came together at the Provincial Fair to learn more about the rich cultural diversity, history and geography of Ontario ; to meet other students from all parts of the province; and to showcase the projects they produced for their Regional Fairs with peers and public. The success of the fair and the increasing growth of participation in Ontario have created an energy and interest that has resulted in the Provincial Fair becoming an annual event.
Ontario Provincial Fairs
2004 – Kingston
2005 – Hamilton
2006 – Niagara Region
2007 – Ottawa (Terry Fox Centre)
2008 – Ottawa (Terry Fox Centre)
2009 – Ottawa (Terry Fox Centre)
2012 – Toronto (University of Toronto)
2014 – Toronto (University of Toronto)
2015 – Toronto (University of Toronto)
2016 – Toronto (University of Toronto)
2017 – Toronto (York University)
2018 – Provincial Celebrations in Toronto, Ottawa, and Sudbury
2019 – Toronto (York University)
2020 – Cancelled due to COVID-19
2021 – Virtual
Administration of the Ontario Fairs Program
Each Regional Fair Site in Ontario automatically becomes a member of the Ontario Heritage Fairs Association (OHFA). The sites meet once a year at a general meeting held in the Toronto region to discuss current issues and make policy decisions.
In 2004, the Association, with a generous grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, hired three part-time coordinators to manage and expand the program. The coordinators assisted Regional Fair organizers; facilitate the growth of new sites; provide workshops at conferences and universities; work with a local volunteer committee to organize the annual Provincial Fair; and keep sites up-to-date on new initiatives, programs and resources.
Currently, the Association has two volunteer coordinators who continue to provide support to Regional Fair sites with additional volunteer support from the OHFA Board of Directors.
In the early years a monthly newsletter, “Hello Ontario”, was produced to ensure that both the public and registered sites receive up-to-date information. The newsletter started in 2002 as a simple information e-mail to site coordinators. It was the main communication tool for the Association until 2004 when Ontario launched its own website (www.ohfa.ca) to support the Fairs program.