Ottawa in Ontario is the capital of Canada. The city was founded in 1826 as Bytown and in 1855 became a city and changed its name to Ottawa which is also the name of the river that runs beside it. The word Ottawa is derived from the language of the first nations tribe of the Algonquin. In their language the word “adawe” translates as “to trade”.
In 1857 Queen Victoria the monarch of the British Empire surprisingly chose Ottawa a then rough old timber town as the capital of the then British Province of Canada (in 1841 Lower Canada which is now Quebec and Upper Canada, now Ontario joined to form the Province of Canada). Ottawa was smaller and in a more remote location than other large cities there, making it more defensible, plus the river ensured it had a sound transport link. Prior to 1857 the capital actually used to alternate its location, so being right in the middle between Quebec City and Toronto also helped in the decision as no favourites were played between the French Canadian and British Canadian citizens of the realm. The dominion of Canada came shortly after following confederation in 1867 and the capital remained as Ottawa to lead the new nation.
What a fine little city it is. A hub for the arts, culture, museums and food it is a fine place, but for me the stately buildings are what make it unique, especially the houses of Parliament right in the middle of the city upon Parliament Hill.
The original parliament buildings were constructed between 1859 to 1866, This was timely as they were in time for confederation and immediately chosen as highly suitable for the seat of the new parliament. Unfortunately just 50 years later fire raged through the parliament destroying most of the buildings except for the impressive library (the massive iron doors of the library which were closed at the time are believed to have saved it and the collection). It is amazing how many stately buildings like this were destroyed by fire in the 1800’s and early 1900’s (just in America alone many original state capitols burnt to the ground also). I guess combinations of gas lighting, people smoking etc. led to many issues back in the day?
Despite this happening in the middle of World War One the nation of Canada was determined to rebuild their parliament and by 1922 they had completed the majority of the magnificent new modern gothic parliament building. There was one major addition though which was completed in 1927 to add the final finishing touch to make this the stunning building you see today. That was the Peace Tower which commemorates all those lost fighting for their nation since confederation.
The Peace Tower stands at an impressive 92.2 metres tall (302 feet). There is a memorial chamber within the tower and also an observation deck just below the tower clock. You can visit the top of the tower during a tour of the parliament buildings. I thoroughly recommend taking a tour as the building is beautiful both on the inside and the outside.
Wander around the entire building and you will see a fascinating array of creatures and faces that adorn the exterior walls of Parliament. Well worth a visit indeed.
Nearby to parliament is another fitting tribute to those lost serving the country they loved. The National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The statues are so detailed and lifelike it has to be one of the most impressive memorials I have seen. Don’t miss it when visiting the city and Parliament Hill.
So that’s a little snapshot of just a few areas within Ottawa. I will post some more blogs in the near future on some of the museums I visited. I really enjoyed my time there and if you are touring Ontario and make it that way I am sure you will too.