In 2016, MoneySense rated Oakville as the third best place to live in Canada.
In 1793, Dundas Street was surveyed for a military road. In 1805, the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada bought the lands between Etobicoke and Hamilton from the Mississaugas aboriginal people, except for the land at the mouths of Twelve Mile Creek (Bronte Creek), Sixteen Mile Creek, and along the Credit River. In 1807, British immigrants settled the area surrounding Dundas Street as well as on the shore of Lake Ontario.
In 1820, the Crown bought the area surrounding the waterways. The area around the creeks, 960 acres (3.9 km2), ceded to the Crown by the Mississaugas, was auctioned off to William Chisholm in 1827. He left the development of the area to his son, Robert Kerr Chisholm and his brother-in-law, Merrick Thomas. Chisholm also formed shipbuilding business in Oakville Navy Street and Sixteen Mile Creek (Halton Region) and lasted until 1842, but shipbuilding in Oakville lasted into the late 20th Century.
The population in 1846 was 1,500. The community shipped large quantities of wheat and lumber via schooners and the railway. There were three churches, a grist mill and saw mill, and various small companies making threshing machines, wagons, watches, saddles, and metal goods. There were also tradesmen of various types.
Oakville's industries also included shipbuilding. In the 1850s, there was an economic recession and the foundry, the most important industry in town, was closed. Basket-making became a major industry in the town, and the Grand Trunk Railway was built through it. In 1869, the population was 2000 and the community was also served by the Great Western Railroad; it was a port on Lake Ontario. In 1869, the population was at 1700 people.
The town eventually became industrialized with the opening of Cities Service Canada (later BP Canada, and now Petro Canada) and Shell Canada oil refineries (both now closed), the Procor factory (no longer manufacturing), and, most importantly, the Ford Motor Company's Canadian headquarters and plant, all close to the Canadian National Railway and the Queen Elizabeth Way highway between Toronto and Fort Erie (Buffalo).
In 1962 the town of Oakville merged with its neighbouring villages (Bronte, Palermo, Sheridan, and the remainder of Trafalgar Township) to become the new Town of Oakville, reaching northwards to Steeles Avenue in Milton. In 1973, the restructuring of Halton County into Halton Region brought the northern border southwards to just north of the future Highway 407.
Oakville's Planning Department divides the town into communities. These divisions have little to do with politics and are based on traditional neighbourhoods.
According to the 2016 Canadian Census, Oakville had 193,832 residents. This represents a 6.2% increase since the 2011 Census.
According to the 2006 census, Oakville had a younger population than Canada as a whole. Minors (youth under 19 years of age) totalled 28.1 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 11.7 percent. This compares with the Canadian average of 24.4 percent (minors) and 13.7 percent (pensioners).
As of 2006, 81.2% of the population was white. Other groups include South Asian: 6.0%, Chinese: 3.2%, black: 2.1%, and mixed race: 2%
According to the 2011 Census, 69.6% of Oakville residents have English as their mother tongue (the corresponding figure for French is 1.8%). Polish is the native language for 1.5% of the population, followed by Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish (at 1.4% each).
79.4% of residents stated their religion as Christian, almost evenly split between Roman Catholics and Protestants. Non-Christian religions include Islam: 2.0%, Hinduism: 1.3%, Sikhism: 1.1%, and Judaism: 0.7%. 14% indicated no religion.
The median household income is $118, 671, with an average house value of $1,118,572.
The top employers in Oakville include:
Like much of Southern Ontario, Oakville has a Humid Continental Climate with cold, but not extreme winters and warm summers.
Oakville has a long history of sporting. The Oakville Blue Devils of Canadian Soccer League is a recognized professional soccer team. The Blue Devils are affiliated with the Oakville Soccer Club, which is the largest soccer club in Canada. Oakville boasts over 60 soccer fields and a Soccer Club Facility with a 2 star full size FIFA Certified indoor soccer pitch.
Oakville is home to the headquarters and practice facilities of the Toronto Rock professional box lacrosse team competing in the National Lacrosse League. Oakville is also home to the 3rd largest minor lacrosse association in Ontario. The Oakville Minor Lacrosse Association has more than 1,500 players and competes in multiple classes and multiple divisions. The town also has the Oakville Buzz, a Junior "B" lacrosse team who won the Founders Cup in 2006. The current rep lacrosse team is the Oakville Hawks.
Oakville also has a moderate amount of success in hockey with the Oakville Blades, a Tier II Junior "A" franchise since 1966, and a "AAA" hockey system. The current rep hockey team in Oakville is the Oakville Hornets and Oakville Rangers, who are the 2-time defending champions for the Midget "AAA" group.
Skate Oakville, which is headquartered at Oakville's Sixteen Mile Creek Sports Complex, is the largest skating club in Canada, providing learn to skate lessons, recreational figure skating programs, competitive training, and 10 synchronized skating teams.
Oakville also has two active (Division 1, 2, 3) rep basketball clubs, Oakville Vytis and Oakville (Venom) Basketball Club
Baseball is represented in Oakville by the OMBA (Oakville Minor Baseball Association) established in 1963. It offers 3 levels of baseball to children and youth in Oakville: House League, Select and Rep. OMBA runs the Oakville A's, the official Town Rep baseball playing in the Central Ontario Baseball Association (COBA) system. Oakville also has the largest Little League Organization in all of Canada. Having the Oakville Whitecaps as their All-star team. Their main field for 12U and under is Cornwall Park were the Home office is.
Glen Abbey Golf Course, site of several Canadian Open professional golf championships and many other amateur tournaments, is also located in Oakville.
Another sport Oakville is well known for is its Burloak Canoe Club, where they have had Olympians come out of, such as Adam van Koeverden, Mark Oldershaw and Larry Cain.
The Downtown Oakville Jazz Festival is an annual summer jazz festival that has taken place every year since 1992. The event includes performances at a number of stages along Lakeshore Road in downtown Oakville. As the festival is fully funded by the Downtown Oakville Business Improvement Area (BIA), the event is free to the public.
Beginning in 1982, Oakville's Coronation Park played host to the annual Oakville Waterfront Festival. Among a range of events, the festival included small amusement park rides, arts and crafts, food and drinks, free concerts headlined by Canadian bands, and nightly fireworks displays. The Waterfront Festival took place in late June of each year until 2010, when it was cancelled due to financial difficulties, despite having annual attendance of up to 100,000 visitors. It returned in August 2013, which was the final festival to date.
Past headliners at the Waterfront Festival included Jann Arden, Oakville resident Tom Cochrane, Great Big Sea, Alannah Myles, Blue Rodeo, Susan Aglukark, Michelle Wright, Jacksoul, Colin James, The Philosopher Kings, Jesse Cook, Finger Eleven, Justin Hines, Bedouin Soundclash, Ill Scarlett, Jully Black, David Usher, and Hedley.
The For the Love of the Arts Festival is an annual event taking place in the late spring in Oakville. Inaugurated in 2002, the event is hosted by CommUnity Arts Space (originally known as Music and Art Shared Space who initiated the festival), a local umbrella group advocating for shared physical space for Oakville's arts and cultural groups. Currently the only such multi-disciplinary community festival of its kind in Oakville, the event serves to showcase local talent, skills, crafts, literary art, dance performances, theatre groups and music performances. The event is intended as a symbolic presentation of a "shared space" and is entirely sponsored by local corporate and private donations.
Downtown Oakville also hosts an annual street festival known as Midnight Madness. The event typically takes place during the month of July and provides an opportunity for local stores and vendors to showcase new products and sales, as well as a venue for local artists to perform at a number of street-level stages.
Oakville Family Ribfest is an annual event hosted at Sheridan College, and organized by the Rotary Club of Oakville Trafalgar. The festival has professional ribbers, food vendors, live music and children's activities. Inaugurated in 2012, it is held each year on the third weekend in June.
Elementary schools and high schools in Oakville are a mix of private and public schools, with one of the highest ratios of private schools to student population in the country. Oakville is covered by the Halton District School Board, Halton Catholic District School Board, Conseil scolaire de district du Centre-Sud-Ouest, and Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud.
The town is home to Appleby College, a private school for grades seven to twelve, established in 1911 as well as St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School, an independent all-girls school. Oakville is also home to Sheridan College, an animation and business studies institute, and Oakville's only higher education facility.
At the municipal level, the governing body is the Oakville Town Council consisting of a mayor (currently Rob Burton) and twelve councillors. The town is divided into six wards, with two councillors elected by residents of each ward.
In each ward one councillor represents the ward solely on Oakville Town Council, and the other is a member of the 21-member governing council of the Regional Municipality of Halton, in addition to being a member of the 13-member Town Council.
Oakville is situated in two provincial ridings which use the same boundaries as the federal ridings and are currently represented provincially by:Oakville Riding: Kevin Flynn (Liberal)
Halton Riding: Indira Naidoo-Harris (Liberal)
Oakville is situated in two federal ridings which are currently represented by:Oakville Riding: John Oliver (Liberal)
Oakville North—Burlington Riding: Pam Damoff (Liberal)
The Oakville Arts Council (OAC) promotes arts and culture in Oakville. Formed in 1978, the Council is a not-for-profit charitable, umbrella organization representing a large and diverse membership from the Oakville arts community. Its mission is to cultivate the arts and to enrich the creative life of the Community of Oakville. The Council publishes Arts About Town, Oakville's only magazine dedicated to local artists and arts issues.
In 2012/13 the first Oakville Youth Arts Council is formed to develop events, activities, and programming for youth and student artists of all disciplines. The Council works to bride the gap between "emerging" artist and "professional" artist, and offers youth the opportunities to professionally perform and exhibit in the Oakville community. The one year of operation saw many pilot projects: a coffee house, art battle, exhibition, and Culture Days. These events were designed to empower youth involved in every major arts discipline.
The Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts houses several performances by local and international artists. It is also the performing venue for the Oakville Symphony Orchestra, the Oakville Children's Choir and the Oakville Ballet Company. The Oakville Arts Council provides further artistic talents in the town showcasing films, literary figures and visual arts.
Oakville Galleries is a not-for-profit contemporary art museum that receives public funding from the Town of Oakville and several local, regional and national granting agencies. It is a collecting institution, holding more than 1,100 works of art. It operates out of two venues: Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square, located in downtown Oakville, and Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens, located in East Oakville.
The Oakville Children's Choir has been part of the community since 1994. It is an award-winning, internationally recognized organization with multiple choirs of children from 5 to 18 years old. They have sung with Mary Lou Fallis, the Elmer Iseler Singers, Susan Aglukark and Erica Peck.
Oakville is twinned with the cities of Dorval, in Quebec, and Neyagawa, Japan. The Town of Oakville has named two major streets after these cities.
Oakville is primarily served by media based in Toronto with markets in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) that cover most of the news in the GTA. Oakville has one regional newspaper. The Oakville Beaver is published every Thursday and Friday.
The town also has two specialty radio stations: AM 1250 CJYE, a Christian music station and AM 1320 CJMR, a Multicultural station.
The following national cable television station also broadcast from Oakville:The Weather Network, broadcasts nationally from Oakville since 2005
Hamilton based Television station CHCH-DT serves Hamilton, Halton and Niagara, thus including Oakville. CHCH recently closed its Halton Bureau (due to budget considerations) which was located in downtown Oakville.
TVCogeco from the studio in the Cogeco Cable Headquarters at Harvester Road & Burloak Drive, just inside of Burlington.
Oakville Transit provides local bus service. GO Transit commuter rail and bus service operates from Bronte and Oakville stations. Via Rail services along the line between Windsor and Quebec corridor, and operates from Oakville station.
The Queen Elizabeth Way, Ontario Highway 403, and the 407 ETR highways run through Oakville.
Policing in Oakville is performed by the Halton Regional Police Service.
Fire service is provided by the town through the Oakville Fire Department with eight fire stations.
The Town of Oakville's Waters Air Rescue Force (TOWARF) is a volunteer organization that provides marine search and rescue service in Western Lake Ontario. It was founded in 1954 and was a charter member of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Tim Hortons and Mattamy Homes are based in Oakville while Siemens and The Ford Motor Company have their head Canadian offices in the city. Many Oakville residents work in advanced manufacturing at large facilities operated by UTC Aerospace Systems and General Electric.
Many Oakville companies fall under the life science umbrella, with an emphasis on pharmaceuticals and elder care. There are also a number of retirement homes in the city.
As Oakville is considered part of the Greater Toronto Area it is common for residents to commute to jobs in Toronto.
The Oakville Place Shopping Centre is an indoor shopping mall in Oakville that opened in 1981. The mall is approximately 42,000 square metres (452,000 sq ft). Oakville Place is anchored by Hudson's Bay and Sears. It was described by the American Automobile Association as "Oakville's leading shopping mall". A centerpiece of the mall is a monumental clock, 12 ft (3.7 m) tall and weighing 6,000 lb (2,700 kg), that chimes every quarter-hour. It was installed in 1981 and designed by Soheil Mosun Limited of Toronto.