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Ottawa travel guide — Ottawa tourism and travel information

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about Ottawa

Ottawa is the capital of Canada, located in the eastern part of the province of Ontario. The population as of 2001 was approximately 774,072 people. The Ottawa region has a population of approximately 1,110,498. The mayor of the city today (2004) is Bob Chiarelli.

As with other capital cities, the word Ottawa is also used to refer by metonymy to the country's federal government, especially as opposed to provincial or municipal authorities.

Ottawa geography

Ottawa sits on the south bank of the Ottawa River, around the mouths of the Rideau River and Rideau Canal. The oldest part of the city (including what remains of Bytown) is known as Lower Town and occupies an area between the canal and the rivers. Across the canal to the west lies Centre Town, which is the city's financial and commercial hub. Between here and the Ottawa River, the slight elevation of Parliament Hill is home to many of the capital's landmark government buildings.

The Ottawa urban area extends for considerable distance to the east, west and south of the centre, and includes the former cities of Gloucester and Nepean. Around the city is an extensive greenbelt, administered by the National Capital Commission for conservation and leisure, and comprising mostly forest and marshland. A number of satellite towns and rural communities lie beyond the greenbelt but are administratively part of the Ottawa municipality. The largest of these are Kanata to the west and Orleans to the east.

Across the Ottawa River, which forms the border between Ontario and Quebec, lies the city of Gatineau. Although administered separately, the two cities both fall within the remit of the National Capital Commission and for many purposes are considered a single metropolitan area, called Canada's Capital Region.

Ottawa history

The Ottawa region was long home to First Nations peoples who were part of the Algonquin. The first European settlement in the Ottawa region was that of Philemon Wright who started a community on the Quebec side of the river in 1800. Wright discovered that transporting timber by river from the Ottawa Valley to Montreal was possible and Ottawa was soon booming based almost entirely off timber. The city grew even further in importance when the Rideau Canal was constructed by Colonel John By. The city was then known as Bytown, but it was incorporated as Ottawa in 1855.

Original city leaders of Bytown include a number Wright's sons, most notably Ruggles Wright. Nicholas Sparks, Braddish Billings and Abraham Dow were the first to settle on the Ontario side of the Ottawa river.

On December 31, 1857 Queen Victoria, was asked to choose a capital for Canada, and chose Ottawa. There are various popular stories explaining this decision. One explanation is that she did so by sticking her hatpin on a map roughly halfway between Toronto and Montreal; Ottawa was the nearest city to were it landed. Another is that she liked some watercolours she had seen of the area. In reality, the primary objective was probably to avoid antagonising either English speakers or French speakers. The other candidates - Quebec City, Montreal, Kingston and Toronto - were perceived as too firmly rooted either in English or in French tradition; Ottawa seemed more neutral. Also, at a time when the US was considered a military threat, Ottawa was situated further from the border.

The original Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa burned down on February 3, 1916. The House of Commons was temporarily relocated to the Victorian era building which was then the Victoria Museum, and is currently (2004) the Canadian Museum of Nature, located about 1 km south of Parliament Hill at the opposite end of Metcalfe Street. A new Centre Block was completed in 1922, the centre-piece of which is a dominant gothic revival styled structure known as the Peace Tower which has become a common emblem of the city.

In 2001, the city of Ottawa was amalgamated with the suburbs of Nepean, Kanata, Gloucester, Rockcliffe Park, Vanier and Cumberland, and the rural townships of West Carleton, Osgoode, Rideau and Goulbourn, along with the systems and infrastructure of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, to become one municipality. Ottawa-Carleton used to be just Carleton County before the 1969 and consisted of what is now the City of Ottawa except for Cumberland.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ottawa".

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