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Ottawa History

The name Ottawa is derived from the Algonquin word adawe, meaning "to trade". For centuries, Algonquin people navigated the waterways of the Ottawa and Rideau rivers but there was no settlement here until the 1800s when Gatineau was founded near the falls, across the river from present-day Ottawa.

Ottawa was started as a settlement after a navigable waterway between Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River was completed in 1831. Many of the builders were Scottish stonemasons who lived in Ottawa, then known as Bytown.

After its humble beginning as a small lumber town, Ottawa was designated Canada's capital by Queen Victoria in 1857. Four years later, the population hit 15,000 but settlers in the surrounding regions numbered almost 50,000.

Soon, sawmills built by lumber barons would become some of the largest mills in the world. The lumber industry continued to contribute to Ottawa's growth and lasted until shortly after the turn of the century, after which it slowly fell into decline.

Around the same time, the city saw a rise in the creation of new government departments. Between 1860 and 1876, construction of the parliament buildings took place on Parliament Hill. Although fire destroyed the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings in 1916, a replacement was completed in 1922, the centrepiece of which is the gothic-inspired Peace Tower located on Wellington Street.

In 1867, the Province of Canada ceased to exist and the provinces of Quebec and Ontario were formed. They united with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to form Canada. The arrival of the railways in the late 19th century enabled the city to become a key destination on a transcontinental network. By 1901, the city was the fourth largest in Canada.

A building boom in the 1960s and 70s saw a transformation of the city’s skyline. In the 1970s the high tech sector drew highly skilled workers to this burgeoning computer and telecommunications centre, giving birth to Silicon Valley North. Today, technology, government and health are the major sources of employment.

Did you know?
• The Dutch gave 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in 1945 as thanks for sheltering the Dutch royal family during WWII.
• A fire destroyed most of the original Parliament Building in 1916, except for the library which survived as an employee closed its huge steel doors.
• In 1929, there were a number of explosions in Ottawa’s sewers. Blasts sent manhole covers and flames into the air and killed one person.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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Featured Hotels


Rideau Inn

This Edwardian home offers budget accommodation amid elegant surroundings. There are 10 classically furnished rooms, some of which have ensuite bathrooms; a smart dining area for breakfasts and a cute decked area for a drink in the summer. The inn is located in a leafy downtown residential neighbourhood known as the Golden Triangle close to lively Elgin Street, home to restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs.

Econo Lodge Downtown

The Econo Lodge Downtown offers air-conditioned rooms, some of which feature fridges, microwaves and whirlpool baths. Free continental breakfasts and internet access are offered. The lodge itself is close to Parliament Hill, the Royal Canadian Mint, the National Arts Centre and the National Gallery of Canada.

Fairmont Château Laurier

Reminiscent of a French chateau exuding old world elegance and luxury, the historic Château Laurier is a favoured destination of dignitaries and celebrities. Ideally located next to the Parliament Buildings, the hotel has 426 newly renovated rooms filled with antiques, three restaurants, a business centre and a spectacular art deco swimming pool.

The Metcalfe Hotel

A serene oasis in the heart of the city, this brand new boutique hotel, formerly Hotel Indigo, features soaring skylights, cool colours, running water and scents that change with the season. Plush bedding, hardwood floors, spa-inspired showers, indoor pool, high-speed internet and an adjoining gourmet, fast and casual restaurant provide for every need.


Nestled in Ottawa's Silicon Valley North, this boutique hotel overlooks the Marshes Golf Club, cross-country ski trails and jogging paths. Relax in spacious, sleekly elegant rooms, dine in two upscale contemporary restaurants or soak up the pampering at the Naturel Wellness Spa.

Avalon Bed and Breakfast

This simple but friendly B&B is located close to major attractions and bistros, cafes and restaurants. It offers three rooms plus a spacious, two-room suite on the third floor. Parking is available and a full breakfast is included.