Whitby (2006 population 111,184) is a town in Ontario, Canada. Whitby is located in Southern Ontario east of Toronto on the north shore of Lake Ontario, and is home to the headquarters of Durham Region. 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 and Myrtle Station.
Whitby Township (now the Town of Whitby) was named after the seaport town of Whitby, Yorkshire, England. In addition to Whitby, Yorkshire, the Town of Whitby is also officially twinned with Longueuil, Quebec and Feldkirch, Austria.
When the township was originally surveyed in 1792, the surveyor, from the northern part of England, named the townships east of Toronto after towns in North Eastern England: York, Scarborough, Pickering, Whitby and Darlington. The original name of "Whitby" is Danish, dating from about 867 CE when the Danes invaded Britain. It is a contraction of "Whitteby," meaning "White Village." The allusion may be to the white lighthouse on the pier at Whitby, Yorkshire, and also at Whitby, Ontario.' Although settlement dates back to 1800, it was not until 1836 that a downtown business centre was established by Whitby's founder Peter Perry.
Whitby's chief asset was its fine natural harbour on Lake Ontario, from which grain from the farmland to the north was first shipped in 1833. In the 1840s a road was built from Whitby Harbour to Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay, to bring trade and settlement through the harbour to and from the rich hinterland to the north. The Town of Whitby was chosen as the seat of government for the newly formed County of Ontario in 1852, and incorporated in 1855. In the 1870s a railway, the "Port Whitby and Port Perry Railway," was constructed from Whitby harbour to Port Perry, and later extended to Lindsay as the "Whitby, Port Perry and Lindsay Railway."
Whitby is also the site of Trafalgar Castle School, a private girls' school founded in 1874. The building, constructed as an Elizabethan-style castle in 1859–62 as a private residence for the Sheriff of Ontario County, is a significant architectural landmark and Whitby's only Provincial historic site marked with a plaque. The school celebrated its 125th anniversary in 1999.
During the Second World War, Whitby was the location of Camp X, a secret spy training facility established by Sir William Stephenson, the "Man Called Intrepid". Although the buildings have since been demolished, a monument was unveiled on the site of Camp X in 1984 by Ontario's Lieutenant-Governor John Black Aird.
In 1968, the Town of Whitby and Township of Whitby amalgamated to form the current municipality. Municipal boundaries were not changed during the 1974 formation of Durham Region and remain to this day.
Today, Whitby is the seat of government in Durham Region. It is commonly considered part of the Greater Toronto Area, although for census purposes it belongs to the greater Oshawa Metropolitan Area. They are both in the eastern part of the Golden Horseshoe region.
Like much of Durham Region, demographics in Whitby are characterized mainly by rapid population growth. The 2006 census population of the Town is 111,184 inhabitants, compared with the 2001 Statistics Canada total of 87 413. This represents population growth of over 27.2% in five years. The number of inhabitants has more than doubled since 1986, when Whitby had a census population of 45,800 people. The median household income in 2005 for Whitby was $84,219, which is above the Ontario provincial average of $60,455.
According to the 2006 Census, approximately 17.0% of Whitby's population is classified as visible minority, with Black (6.1%), South Asian (3.3%) and Chinese (1.9%) populations forming the largest individual groups.
Public education in Whitby is provided via the Durham District School Board, which also has its headquarters in Whitby. As of late 2008, there were 18 elementary schools and six secondary schools.
The Durham Catholic District School Board oversees public Catholic education in Durham Region. There are eight Catholic elementary schools and two secondary schools.
Whitby is home to Trafalgar Castle School, a private school for women that offers grades 6 through 12 in a university preparatory programme. There are also a number of Montessori schools offering programmes for early elementary grades.
Whitby is also the site of the Skills Training Centre of Durham College. The main campus of the college is located in Oshawa, as is the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.