In 1881, the Chaffey brothers, George and William, purchased the land and water rights which today makes up the cities of Ontario and Upland. They engineered a drainage system channeling water from the foothills of Mount San Antonio down to the flatter lands below that performed the dual functions of allowing farmers to water their crops and preventing the floods that periodically afflict them. They also created the main thoroughfare of Euclid Avenue with its distinctive wide lanes and grassy median.
It was named the new “Model Colony” because it offered the perfect balance between agriculture and the urban comforts of schools, churches, and commerce. The Chaffey brothers named the town “Ontario” in honor of the province of Ontario in Canada, where they were born.
Ontario attracted farmers and ailing Easterners seeking a drier climate. To impress visitors and potential settlers with the “abundance” of water in Ontario, a fountain was placed at the Southern Pacific railway station. It was turned on when passenger trains were approaching and frugally turned off again after their departure. The original “Chaffey fountain”, a simple spigot surrounded by a ring of white stones, was later replaced by the more ornate “Frankish Fountain”, an Art Nouveau creation now located outside the Ontario Museum of History and Art. Ontario was incorporated as a city in 1891. Ontario grew at an astronomical rate, increasing 10 times in the next half a century. The population of 20,000 in the 1960s again grew 10 times more by the year 2007.