Built on high, rocky ground at the confluence of three rivers, Ottawa, Canada, is a city that impresses with its natural beauty and serves as the capital of the second biggest country on the planet.
With a population of more than 1.2 million, Ottawa has the highest-educated workforce in Canada, with more than half the population graduating from college and boasting more engineers, scientists and Ph.Ds per capita than any other city in the country. Located at the Quebec border, you will hear both English and French spoken on the streets.
The Musuem of Civilization
The city's main attractions are the vast assortment of state-of-the-art museums including the ultra-modern Museum of Civilization and the haunting gothic arches of the Museum of Nature. The city also has the famous Rideau Canal, the oldest continuously operated hand-dug canal in North America; and its historic Parliament buildings, which feature the popular Changing the Guard ceremony and many national celebrations.
There are archaeological signs of settlements in Ottawa from the last ice age. However, the Ottawa we know today started in 1826, when Lieutenant-Colonel John By arrived in Ottawa to supervise the construction of the Rideau Canal, which connected a series of natural waterways between Kingston and the Ottawa River. This new waterway formed a powerful military supply route between Ottawa and Kingston in case of an attack from the United States. With a need for soldiers, engineers and builders, a large settlement of Irish immigrants and French Canadians grew around the building works. This area took on the name Bytown (from its founder Colonel John By) and later became Ottawa, adapted from Outaouak, the name of the Algonquian people who first settled and traded furs in the area. The Rideau Canal is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its historical importance. It is the best preserved example of a North American canal building and still has many of the original structures in place. Today you can walk along the banks of the canal, watch the locks in action and take a boat ride on the water.
In 1857, the relatively young city of Ottawa was officially chosen by Queen Victoria to be the capital of the United Province of Canada, a new territory comprising of Upper and Lower Canada, which in today's terms represents the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Ottawa was choice because of its militarily defensible position, distance from the American border, and its ability to unite Upper and Lower Canada. Not only was Ottawa on the border between Upper and Lower Canada, but it connected to Montreal, Toronto and Kingston by water. By1866, Parliament Hill was built, and on July 1, 1867, Canada went from a province to a federation with Ottawa as the country's capital.
Today, Ottawa is a source of pride for Canadians and an exciting and dynamic place for residents and visitors alike.