Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
This page refers to a Riding as a unit in local government. For the more usual meaning, see horse and related articles
In the British Isles and Canada, a riding is traditionally a sub-division of a county. The word is a corruption of the Old Norse þriðing (thridhing or thrithing) meaning a third part. The term was also used in 19th century Canada to refer to sub-divisions of counties - today, the word riding is a semi-official term for an electoral district. A common misconception holds that the term arose from some association between the size of the district and the distance that can be covered on horseback in a certain amount time.
County Tipperary in the Republic of Ireland was divided in the 19th century into two (not three) ridings, Tipperary North Riding and Tipperary South Riding — the divisions remain but these have since been renamed simply 'North Tipperary' and 'South Tipperary'.
In the semi-official jargon of Canadian politics, a riding (oddly known in French Canada as comté, i.e. "county") is a constituency or electoral district. The term is derived from the English local government term, which was widely used in Canada in the 19th century. Most Canadian counties never had sufficient population to justify administrative sub-divisions. Nonetheless, it was common, especially in Ontario to divide counties with sufficient population to multiple electoral divisions, which thus became known as "ridings" in official documents. Soon after Confederation, the urban population grew (and more importantly, most city dwellers gained the franchise after property ownership was no longer required to gain the vote). Rural constituencies therefore became geographically larger through the 20th century and generally encompassed one or more counties each, and the word "riding" was then used to refer to any electoral division. The local association for a political party is known as a riding association. See: Electoral district (Canada)
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