Founded in 1826 as Bytown
, and incorporated
as Ottawa in 1855,
the city has evolved into the political centre of Canada. Its original boundaries were expanded through numerous annexations and were ultimately replaced by a new city incorporation and amalgamation in 2001 which significantly increased its land area. The city name Ottawa
was chosen in reference to the Ottawa River, the name of which is derived from the Algonquin Odawa
, meaning "to trade".
With the draining of the Champlain Sea
around ten thousand years ago, the Ottawa Valley
Local populations used the area for wild edible harvesting, hunting, fishing, trade, travel, and camps for over 6,500 years.
The Ottawa River valley has archeological
sites with arrow heads
, and stone tools
. Three major rivers meet within Ottawa, making it an important trade and travel area for thousands of years.
called the Ottawa RiverKichi Sibi
meaning "Great River" or "Grand River".
, widely regarded as the first European
to travel up the Ottawa River, passed by Ottawa in 1610 on his way to the Great Lakes
Three years later, Samuel de Champlain
wrote about the waterfalls in the area and about his encounters with the Algonquin Indians, who had been using the Ottawa River for centuries.
Many missionaries would follow the early explorers and traders. The first maps of the area used the word Ottawa, derived from the Algonquin word adawe
('to trade', used in reference to the area's importance to First Nations traders), to name the river. Philemon Wright
, a New Englander
, created the first European settlement in the area on 7 March 1800 on the north side of the river, across from the present-day city of Ottawa in Hull
He, with five other families and twenty-five labourers
set about to create an agricultural community
called Wrightsville. Wright pioneered the Ottawa Valley timber trade
(soon to be the area's most significant economic activity) by transporting timber by river from the Ottawa Valley to Quebec City
, Ottawa's original name, was founded as a community in 1826 when hundreds of land speculators were attracted to the south side of the river when news spread that British authorities were immediately constructing the northerly end of the Rideau Canal
military project at that location.
The following year, the town was named after British military engineer Colonel John By
who was responsible for the entire Rideau Waterway construction project.
Camp used by soldiers and labourers of the Rideau Canal
, on the south side of the Ottawa River
in 1826. The building of the canal attracted many land speculators to the area.
The canal's military purpose was to provide a secure route between Montreal and Kingston
on Lake Ontario
, bypassing a particularly vulnerable stretch of the St. Lawrence River
bordering the state of New York
that had left re-supply ships bound for southwestern Ontario easily exposed to enemy fire during the War of 1812
Colonel By set up military barracks on the site of today's Parliament Hill
. He also laid out the streets of the town and created two distinct neighbourhoods named "Upper Town" west of the canal and "Lower Town
" east of the canal. Similar to its Upper Canada
and Lower Canada
namesakes, historically "Upper Town" was predominantly English speaking and Protestant whereas "Lower Town" was predominantly French, Irish and Catholic.
Bytown's population grew to 1,000 as the Rideau Canal was being completed in 1832.
Bytown encountered some impassioned and violent times in her early pioneer period that included Irish labour unrest that attributed to the Shiners' War
from 1835 to 1845
and political dissension evident from the 1849 Stony Monday Riot
In 1855, Bytown was renamed Ottawa
and incorporated as a city.William Pittman Lett
was installed as the first city clerk, guiding it through 36 years of development. 
On New Year's Eve 1857, Queen Victoria
, as a symbolic and political gesture, was presented with the responsibility of selecting a location for the permanent capital of the Province of Canada
In reality, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald
had assigned this selection process to the Executive Branch
of the Government, as previous attempts to arrive at a consensus had ended in deadlock.
The "Queen's choice" turned out to be the small frontier town of Ottawa for two main reasons:
Firstly, Ottawa's isolated location in a backcountry surrounded by dense forest far from the Canada–US border and situated on a cliff face would make it more defensible from attack.
Secondly, Ottawa was approximately midway between Toronto
and Kingston (in Canada West
) and Montreal
and Quebec City (in Canada East
). Additionally, despite Ottawa's regional isolation, it had seasonal water transportation access to Montreal over the Ottawa River and to Kingston via the Rideau Waterway
. By 1854 it also had a modern all-season Bytown and Prescott Railway
that carried passengers, lumber and supplies the 82 kilometres to Prescott
on the Saint Lawrence River
Ottawa's small size, it was thought, would make it less prone to rampaging politically motivated mobs, as had happened in the previous Canadian capitals
The government already owned the land that would eventually become Parliament Hill which they thought would be an ideal location for the Parliament Buildings. Ottawa was the only settlement of any substantial size that was already directly on the border of French populated former Lower Canada and English populated former Upper Canada thus additionally making the selection an important political compromise.
Queen Victoria made her "Queen's choice" very quickly, just before welcoming in the New Year.
Starting in the 1850s, entrepreneurs known as lumber barons began to build large sawmills, which became some of the largest mills in the world.
Rail lines built in 1854 connected Ottawa to areas south and to the transcontinental rail network via Hull and Lachute
, Quebec in 1886.
The original Parliament buildings which included the centre, East and West Blocks were constructed between 1859 and 1866 in the Gothic Revival style
At the time, this was the largest North American construction project ever attempted and Public Works Canada
and its architects were not initially well prepared. The Library of Parliament
and Parliament Hill landscaping would not be completed until 1876.
By 1885 Ottawa was the only city in Canada whose downtown street lights were powered entirely by electricity.
In 1889, the Government developed and distributed 60 "water leases" (still in use) to mainly local industrialists which gave them permission to generate electricity and operate hydroelectric generators at Chaudière Falls
Public transportation began in 1870 with a horsecar
overtaken in the 1890s by a vast electric streetcar system
that lasted until 1959.
Ottawa's former industrial appearance was vastly altered by the 1950 Greber Plan
. Prime Minister Mackenzie King
hired French architect-planner Jacques Greber
to design an urban plan for managing development in the National Capital Region, to make it more aesthetically pleasing and more befitting a location for Canada's political centre.
Greber's plan included the creation of the National Capital Greenbelt
, the Parkway
, the Queensway
highway system, the relocation of downtown Union Station (now the Senate of Canada Building
) to the suburbs, the removal of the street car system, the decentralization of selected government offices, the relocation of industries and removal of substandard housing from the downtown and the creation of the Rideau Canal and Ottawa River pathways to name just a few of its recommendations.
In 1958, the National Capital Commission
was established as a Crown Corporation from the passing of the National Capital Act to implement the Greber Plan recommendations-which it accomplished during the 1960s and 1970s.
In the previous 50 years, other commissions, plans and projects had failed to implement plans to improve the capital such as the 1899 Ottawa Improvement Commission (OIC), The Todd Plan in 1903, The Holt Report in 1915 and The Federal District Commission (FDC) established in 1927.
In 1958 a new City Hall
opened on Green Island near Rideau falls where urban renewal had recently transformed this former industrial location into green space.
Until then, City Hall had temporarily been for 27 years (1931–1958) at the Transportation Building
adjacent to Union Station and now part of the Rideau Centre
. In 2001, Ottawa City Hall
returned downtown to a relatively new building (1990) on 110 Laurier Avenue West, the prior home of the now defunct Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton
. This new location was close to Ottawa's first (1849–1877)
and second (1877–1931)
City Halls. This new city hall complex also contained an adjacent 19th-century restored heritage building formerly known as the Ottawa Normal School
From the 1960s until the 1980s, the National Capital Region experienced a building boom,
which was followed by large growth in the high-tech
industry during the 1990s and 2000s.
Ottawa became one of Canada's largest high tech
cities and was nicknamed Silicon Valley North. By the 1980s, Bell Northern Research (later Nortel
) employed thousands, and large federally assisted research facilities such as the National Research Council
contributed to an eventual technology boom. The early adopters led to offshoot companies such as Newbridge Networks
Ottawa's city limits had been increasing over the years, but it acquired the most territory on 1 January 2001, when it amalgamated all the municipalities of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa–Carleton
into one single city.
Regional Chair Bob Chiarelli
was elected as the new city's first mayor in the 2000 municipal election
, defeating Gloucester
mayor Claudette Cain. The city's growth led to strains on the public transit system and on road bridges. On 15 October 2001, a diesel-powered light rail transit
(LRT) line was introduced on an experimental basis. Known today as the Trillium Line
, it was dubbed the O-Train
and connected downtown Ottawa
to the southern suburbs via Carleton University
. The decision to extend the O-Train, and to replace it with an electric light rail system, was a major issue in the 2006 municipal elections
, where Chiarelli was defeated by businessman Larry O'Brien
. After O'Brien's election, transit plans were changed to establish a series of light rail stations from the east side of the city into downtown, and for using a tunnel through the downtown core. Jim Watson
, the last mayor of Ottawa prior to amalgamation, was re-elected in the 2010 election
In October 2012, City Council approved the final Lansdowne Park plan, an agreement with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group that saw a new stadium, increased green space, and housing and retail added to the site.
In December 2012, City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the Confederation Line
, a 12.5 km (7.8 mi) light rail transit line, which was opened on 14 September 2019.
Ottawa is on the south bank of the Ottawa River and contains the mouths of the Rideau River
and Rideau Canal.
The older 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 Centretown
and Downtown Ottawa
, which is the city's financial and commercial hub and home to the Parliament of Canada
and numerous federal government department headquarters, notably the Privy Council Office
. On 29 June 2007, the Rideau Canal, which stretches 202 km (126 mi) to Kingston, Fort Henry and four Martello towers in the Kingston area, was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ottawa sits at the confluence of three major rivers: the Ottawa River, the Gatineau River
and the Rideau River.
The Ottawa and Gatineau rivers were historically important in the logging and lumber industries and the Rideau as part of the Rideau Canal system for military, commercial and, subsequently, recreational purposes.
The Rideau Canal (Rideau Waterway) first opened in 1832 and is 202 km (126 mi) long. It connects the Saint Lawrence River on Lake Ontario at Kingston to the Ottawa River near Parliament Hill. It was able to bypass the unnavigable sections of the Cataraqui
and Rideau rivers and various small lakes along the waterway due to flooding techniques and the construction of 47 water transport locks.
The Rideau River got its name from early French explorers who thought the waterfalls at the point where the Rideau River empties into the Ottawa River resembled a "curtain". Hence they began naming the falls and river "rideau" which is the French equivalent of the English word for curtain.
During part of the winter season the Ottawa section of the canal forms the world's largest skating rink, thereby providing both a recreational venue and a 7.8 km (4.8 mi) transportation path to downtown for ice skaters (from Carleton University and Dow's Lake to the Rideau Centre and National Arts Centre
Across the Ottawa River, which forms the border between Ontario and Quebec
, lies the city of Gatineau
, itself the result of amalgamation of the former Quebec cities of Hull
together with Gatineau.
Although formally and administratively separate cities in two separate provinces, Ottawa and Gatineau (along with a number of nearby municipalities) collectively constitute the National Capital Region
, which is considered a single metropolitan area. One federal crown corporation, the National Capital Commission, or NCC, has significant land holdings in both cities, including sites of historical and touristic importance. The NCC, through its responsibility for planning and development of these lands, is a contributor to both cities. Around the main urban area is an extensive greenbelt
, administered by the NCC for conservation and leisure, and comprising mostly forest, farmland and marshland.
Ottawa has a humid continental climate
with four distinct seasons and is between Zones 5a and 5b on the Canadian Plant Hardiness Scale.
The average July maximum temperature is 26.6 °C (80 °F). The average January minimum temperature is −14.4 °C (6.1 °F).
Skating on the Rideau Canal. Snow and ice are common for the region during the winter.
Summers are warm and humid in Ottawa. On average 11 days of the three summer months have temperatures exceeding 30 °C (86 °F), or 37 days if the humidex
is considered. Average relative humidity averages 54% in the afternoon and 84% by morning.
Snow and ice are dominant during the winter season. On average Ottawa receives 224 cm (88 in) of snowfall annually but maintains an average 22 cm (9 in) of snowpack throughout the three winter months. An average 16 days of the three winter months experience temperatures below −20 °C (−4 °F), or 41 days if the wind chill
Spring and fall are variable, prone to extremes in temperature and unpredictable swings in conditions. Hot days above 30 °C (86 °F) have occurred as early as April
or as late as October.
Annual precipitation averages around 940 mm (37 in).
Ottawa experiences about 2,130 hours of average sunshine annually (46% of possible). Winds in Ottawa are generally Westerlies
averaging 13 km/h (8.1 mph) but tend to be slightly more dominant during the winter.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Ottawa was 37.8 °C (100 °F) on 4 July 1913, 1 August 1917 and 11 August 1944.
The coldest temperature ever recorded was −38.9 °C (−38 °F) on 29 December 1933. The hottest daily low temperature was 25.0 °C (77 °F) on 9 July 1955. The coldest daily high temperature was −32 °C (−26 °F) on the same day as the record low. The hottest month on record was July 1921, averaging 25.0 °C (77 °F). The coldest month on record was January 1994, averaging −19 °C (−2 °F)
Neighbourhoods and outlying communities
Map of Ottawa showing urban areas and names of historical communities
The city has a main urban area
but many other urban, suburban
areas exist within the modern city's limits.
The main suburban area extends a considerable distance to the east, west and south of the centre,
and it includes the former cities of Gloucester, Nepean
, the former village
of Rockcliffe Park
(a high-income neighbourhood which is adjacent to the Prime Minister's official residence at 24 Sussex and the Governor General's residence), and the communities of Blackburn Hamlet
suburban area includes the former village of Stittsville
to the southwest.
Nepean is another major suburb which also includes Barrhaven
The communities of Manotick
and Riverside South
are on the other side of the Rideau River, and Greely
, southeast of Riverside South.
A number of rural communities (villages and hamlets
) lie beyond the greenbelt but are administratively part of the Ottawa municipality.
Some of these communities are Burritts Rapids
; Fitzroy Harbour
; North Gower
; Constance Bay
are within the federally defined National Capital Region but outside the city of Ottawa
including the urban communities of Almonte
, Carleton Place
, and Russell
In 2016, the populations of the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa–Gatineau census metropolitan area
(CMA) were 934,243 and 1,323,783 respectively. The city had a population density of 334.8/km2
(867/sq mi) in 2016, while the CMA had a population density of 195.6/km2
It is the second-largest city in Ontario, fourth-largest city in the country, and the fourth-largest CMA in the country.
Ottawa's median age of 40.1 is both below the provincial and national averages as of 2016. Youths under 15 years constituted 16.7% of the total population in 2016, while those of retirement age (65 years and older) made up 15.4%.
As of 2016, over 20 percent of the city's population is foreign-born, with the most common non-Canadian countries of origin being the China (8.0% of those foreign-born), United Kingdom (7.3%), and Lebanon (5.1%). About 6.8% of residents are not Canadian citizens.
Around 65% of Ottawa residents describe themselves as Christian as of 2011, with Catholics
accounting for 38.5% of the population and members of Protestant
churches 25%. Non-Christian religions are also very well established in Ottawa, the largest being Islam
(1.3%), and Judaism
(1.2%). Those with no religious affiliation represent 22.8%.
As of 2016, approximately 69.1% of Ottawa's population was European, while 4.6% were aboriginal and 26.3% were visible minorities (higher than the national percentage of 22.3%). Approximately 23.6% of Ottawa's population are also considered to be immigrants. Below is a breakdown of the demographics.
Distribution map from the 2001 census
showcasing the percentage of individuals whose mother tongue is French
became official policy for the conduct of municipal business in 2002,
and 37.6% of the population can speak both languages as of 2016, making it the largest city in Canada with both English and French as co-official languages.
Those who identify their mother tongue as English
constitute 62.4 percent, while those with French
as their mother tongue make up 14.2 percent of the population. In terms of respondents' knowledge of one or both official languages, 59.9 percent and 1.5 percent of the population have knowledge of English only and French only, respectively; while 37.2 percent have a knowledge of both official languages. The overall Ottawa–Gatineau census metropolitan area (CMA) has a larger proportion of French speakers than Ottawa itself, since Gatineau is overwhelmingly French speaking. An additional 20.4 percent of the population list languages other than English and French as their mother tongue. These include Arabic
(1.1%), and many others.
Developed in the early 1950s, Tunney's Pasture
is an area that holds a number of federal government buildings. The federal government is the city's largest employer.
As of 2015, the region of Ottawa-Gatineau has the sixth highest total household income of all Canadian metropolitan areas ($82,052).
The median household income after taxes is $73,745 which is higher than the national median of $61,348.
The unemployment rate in Ottawa in 2016 was 7.2%, lower than the national rate of 7.7%.
In 2019 Mercer
ranks Ottawa with the third highest quality of living of any Canadian city, and 19th highest in the world.
It is also rated the second cleanest city in Canada, and third cleanest city in the world.
Ottawa's primary employers are the Public Service of Canada
and the high-tech industry, although tourism and healthcare also represent increasingly sizeable economic activities. The Federal government is the city's largest employer, employing over 110,000 individuals from the National Capital region.
The national headquarters for many federal departments are in Ottawa, particularly throughout Centretown and in the Terrasses de la Chaudière
and Place du Portage
complexes in Hull. The National Defence Headquarters
in Ottawa is the main command centre for the Canadian Armed Forces
and hosts the Department of National Defence
The Ottawa area includes CFS Leitrim
and the former CFB Rockcliffe
. During the summer, the city hosts the Ceremonial Guard
, which performs functions such as the Changing the Guard
As the national capital of Canada, tourism is an important part of Ottawa's economy, particularly after the 150th anniversary of Canada
which was centred in Ottawa. The lead-up to the festivities saw much investment in civic infrastructure, upgrades to tourist infrastructure and increases in national cultural attractions. The National Capital Region annually attracts an estimated 7.3 million tourists, who spend about 1.18 billion dollars.
In addition to the economic activities that come with being the national capital, Ottawa is an important technology centre; in 2015, its 1800 companies employed approximately 63,400 people.
The concentration of companies in this industry earned the city the nickname of "Silicon Valley North".
Most of these companies specialize in telecommunications
, software development
and environmental technology
. Large technology companies such as Nortel, Corel, Mitel
, Halogen Software
and JDS Uniphase
were founded in the city.
Ottawa also has regional locations for Nokia
, Adobe Systems
, Bell Canada
Many of the telecommunications and new technology are in the western part of the city (formerly Kanata). The "tech sector" was doing particularly well in 2015/2016.
Another major employer is the health sector, which employs over 18,000 people.
Four active general hospitals are in the Ottawa area: Queensway Carleton Hospital
, The Ottawa Hospital
, Montfort Hospital
, and Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario
. Several specialized hospital facilities are also present, such as the University of Ottawa Heart Institute
and the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre
and the National Research Council of Canada and OHRI
are part of the growing life science sector.
Business, finance, administration, and sales and service rank high among types of occupations.
Approximately ten percent of Ottawa's GDP is derived from finance, insurance and real estate whereas employment in goods-producing industries is only half the national average.
The City of Ottawa is the second largest employer
with over 15,000 employees.
In 2006, Ottawa experienced an increase of 40,000 jobs over 2001 with a five-year average growth that was relatively slower than in the late 1990s.
While the number of employees in the federal government stagnated, the high-technology industry grew by 2.4%. The overall growth of jobs in Ottawa-Gatineau was 1.3% compared to the previous year, down to sixth place among Canada's largest cities. In 2016, the unemployment rate in Ottawa was 7.2%, which was below the national unemployment rate of 7.7%.
The economic downturn resulted in an increase in the unemployment rate between April 2008 and April 2009 from 4.7 to 6.3%. In the province, however, this rate increased over the same period from 6.4 to 9.1%.
Ottawa already has the largest rural economy among Canada's major cities.
In Ottawa, the rural economy contributes over $1 billion to the GDP. Agriculture alone accounts for $400 million, $136.7 million of which is farm-gate sales.
Rural economic activity includes such things as agriculture, retail sales, construction, forestry and mining (aggregates), tourism, manufacturing, personal and business services, and transportation, to name a few. Rural employment expanded by a healthy 18% from 1996 to 2001.
Traditionally the ByWard Market
(in Lower Town), Parliament Hill and the Golden Triangle
(both in Centretown – Downtown) have been the focal points of the cultural scenes in Ottawa.
Modern thoroughfares such as Wellington Street
, Rideau Street
, Sussex Drive
, Elgin Street
, Bank Street
, Somerset Street
, Preston Street
, Richmond Road in Westboro
, and Sparks Street
are home to many boutiques, museums, theatres, galleries, landmarks and memorials in addition to eating establishments, cafes, bars and nightclubs.
Ottawa hosts a variety of annual seasonal activities—such as Winterlude
, the largest festival in Canada,
and Canada Day
celebrations on Parliament Hill and surrounding downtown area, as well as Bluesfest
, Canadian Tulip Festival
, Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival
, Ottawa International Jazz Festival
, Fringe Festival
and Folk Music Festival
, that have grown to become some of the largest festivals of their kind in the world.
In 2010, Ottawa's Festival industry received the IFEA
"World Festival and Event City Award" for the category of North American cities with a population between 500,000 and 1,000,000.
As Canada's capital, Ottawa has played host to a number of significant cultural events in Canadian history
, including the first visit of the reigning Canadian sovereign
—King George VI
, with his consort
, Queen Elizabeth
—to his parliament, on 19 May 1939
. VE Day
was marked with a large celebration on 8 May 1945,
the first raising of the country's new national flag
took place on 15 February 1965,
and the centennial of Confederation
was celebrated on 1 July 1967. Elizabeth II
was in Ottawa on 17 April 1982, to issue a royal proclamation
of the enactment of the Constitution Act
In 1983, Prince Charles
and Diana Princess of Wales
came to Ottawa for a state dinner hosted by then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
In 2011, Ottawa was selected as the first city to receive Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
during their tour of Canada
Completed in 1913, the Connaught Building
was constructed in a Gothic Revival style. In the following decades, buildings built for the government would abandon the style, in favour of formal
Influenced by government structures, much of the city's architecture tends to be formalistic
; however, the city is also marked by Romantic
styles of architecture such as the Parliament Buildings' gothic revival architecture.
Ottawa's domestic architecture is dominated by single family homes, but also includes smaller numbers of semi-detached
, and apartment buildings
. Many domestic buildings are clad in brick, with small numbers covered in wood, stone, or siding of different materials; variations are common, depending on neighbourhoods and the age of dwellings within them.
has been controlled by building height restrictions originally implemented to keep Parliament Hill and the Peace Tower at 92.2 m (302 ft) visible from most parts of the city.
Today, several buildings are slightly taller
than the Peace Tower, with the tallest on Albert Street being the 29-storey Place de Ville
(Tower C) at 112 m (367 ft).
Federal buildings in the National Capital Region are managed by Public Works Canada
, while most of the federal land in the region is managed by the National Capital Commission; its control of much undeveloped land gives the NCC a great deal of influence over the city's development.
Museums and performing arts
Historic and heritage sites
The Rideau Canal is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America, and in 2007, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In addition, 24 other National Historic Sites of Canada are in Ottawa, including: the Central Chambers
, the Central Experimental Farm
, the Château Laurier, Confederation Square, the former Ottawa Teachers' College, Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council
, Laurier House
and the Parliament Buildings. Many other properties of cultural value have been designated as having "heritage elements" by the City of Ottawa under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act
Sport in Ottawa
has a history dating back to the 19th century. Ottawa is home to six professional sports teams. The Ottawa Senators
are a professional ice hockey team playing in the National Hockey League
. The Senators play their home games at the Canadian Tire Centre
The Ottawa Redblacks
are a professional Canadian Football team playing in the Canadian Football League
A professional soccer club, Atlético Ottawa
, play in the Canadian Premier League
, following the dissolution of Ottawa Fury FC
. A new rugby league
team called the Ottawa Aces
will play in the 2021 RFL League 1
The Redblacks, Atlético, and the Aces all play their home games at TD Place Stadium
. The city is once again home to a professional basketball team, with the Ottawa Blackjacks
beginning to play in the Canadian Elite Basketball League
, out of the TD Place Arena
Previously, Ottawa was home to the Ottawa SkyHawks
basketball team, of the National Basketball League of Canada
. The Ottawa Titans
play professional baseball in the Frontier League
at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park
. Previously, Ottawa was home to the Ottawa Champions
baseball team, of the Can-Am League
Collegiate teams in various sports compete in U Sports
. The Carleton Ravens
are nationally ranked in basketball
and the Ottawa Gee-Gees
are nationally ranked in football
and basketball. Algonquin College has also won numerous national championships. The city is home to an assortment of amateur organized team sports such as soccer
, basketball, baseball
and horse racing
Casual recreational activities, such as skating
, and fishing
are also popular.
The City of Ottawa is a single-tier municipality
, meaning it is in itself a census division
and has no county or regional municipality government above it.
As a single-tier municipality, Ottawa has responsibility for all municipal services, including fire
, emergency medical services
, sidewalks, public transit
, drinking water, storm water, sanitary sewage and solid waste. Ottawa is governed by the 24-member Ottawa City Council
consisting of 23 councillors each representing one ward
and the mayor Jim Watson,
elected in a citywide vote.
Along with being the capital of Canada, Ottawa is politically diverse in local politics. Most of the city has traditionally supported the Liberal Party
Perhaps the safest areas for the Liberals are the ones dominated by Francophones
, especially in Vanier and central Gloucester.
Central Ottawa is usually more left
-leaning, and the New Democratic Party
have won ridings there. Some of Ottawa's suburbs are swing areas, notably central Nepean and, despite its francophone population, Orléans.
The southern and western parts of the old city of Ottawa are generally moderate and swing to the Conservative Party
The farther one goes outside the city centre like to Kanata and Barrhaven and rural areas, the voters tend to be increasingly conservative, both fiscally and socially.
This is especially true in the former Townships of West Carleton
, which are more in line with the conservative areas in the surrounding counties
However, not all rural areas support the Conservative Party. Rural parts of the former township of Cumberland
, with a large number of Francophones, traditionally support the Liberal Party, though their support has recently weakened.
Map of Intercity Transport Hubs in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Inter-city trains and buses
no longer serves Ottawa after having ceased all Canadian operations on May 13th, 2021.
Bus and rail transit
OC Transpo, a department of the city, operates the public transit system.
OC Transpo operates an integrated, multi-modal Rapid Transit system which includes:
- Line 1, also known as the Confederation Line, which operates medium-capacity trains which travel under the city's downtown core,
- Line 2, also known as the Trillium Line, which is a north–south light rail transit corridor connecting the airport and south end of Ottawa to Line 1, and
- a vast system of over 190 bus routes served by a fleet of ordinary, articulated and double-decker buses along grade-separated, transit-only corridors with long distances between stops and full station amenities (including platforms, walkways, ticket booths, elevators and convenience stores), which connects Ottawa's suburbs to the inner city.
The Rapid bus service network operates all day, 7 days a week, reaching Kanata to the West, Barrhaven to the South-West, Orléans to the East, and South Keys to the South.
There are also several night bus routes that cover Line 1's downtown stations while it is shut off for the night, and backup service to downtown while the train is delayed.
OC Transpo also operates a door-to-door bus service for the differently-abled known as ParaTranspo.
Construction was recently completed on the Confederation Line, a 12.5-kilometre (7.8 mi) light-rail transit line (LRT), which includes a 2.5-kilometre (1.6 mi) tunnel through the downtown area featuring three underground stations. The project broke ground in 2013, and opened in September 2019.
A further 30 km (19 mi) and 19 stations will be built by 2023, referred to as the Stage 2 plan.
There is a proposed LRT system
that would link Ottawa with Gatineau.
Freeways and roads
The city is served by two freeway corridors. The primary corridor is east–west and consists of provincial Highway 417
(designated as the Queensway) and Ottawa-Carleton Regional Road 174
(formerly Provincial Highway 17); a north–south corridor, Highway 416
(designated as Veterans' Memorial Highway), connects Ottawa to the rest of the 400-Series Highway
network in Ontario at the 401. Highway 417 is also the Ottawa portion of the Trans-Canada Highway
Cycling and by foot
Numerous paved multi-use trails
, mostly operated by the National Capital Commission
, wind their way through much of the city, including along the Ottawa River, Rideau River, and Rideau Canal. These pathways
are used for transportation, tourism, and recreation. Because many streets either have wide curb lanes or bicycle lanes, cycling is a popular mode of transportation throughout the year.
As of 31 December 2015, 900 km (560 mi) of cycling facilities are found in Ottawa, including 435 km (270 mi) of multi-use pathways, 8 km (5.0 mi) of cycle tracks, 200 km (120 mi) of on-road bicycle lanes, and 257 km (160 mi) of paved shoulders.
204 km (127 mi) of new cycling facilities were added between 2011 and 2014.
A downtown street that is restricted to pedestrians only, Sparks Street was turned into a pedestrian mall in 1966.
On Sundays (since 1960) and selected holidays and events, additional avenues and streets are reserved for pedestrian and/or bicycle use only.
In May 2011, the NCC introduced the Capital Bixibicycle-sharing system
Ottawa is known as one of the most educated cities in Canada, with over half the population having graduated from college and/or university.
Ottawa has the highest per capita concentration of engineers
, and residents with PhDs
The city has two main public universities:
- Carleton University was founded in 1942 to meet the needs of returning World War II veterans and later became Ontario's first private, non-denominational college. Over time, Carleton would make the transition to the public university that it is today. In recent years, Carleton has become ranked highly among comprehensive universities in Canada. The university's campus sits between Old Ottawa South and Dow's Lake.
- The University of Ottawa (originally named the "College of Bytown") was the first post-secondary institution established in the city in 1848. The university would eventually expand to become the largest English-French bilingual university in the world. It is also a member of the U15, a group of highly respected research-intensive universities in Canada. The university's campus is in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood, just adjacent to the city's downtown core.
Three main daily local newspapers are printed in Ottawa: two English newspapers, the Ottawa Citizen
established as the Bytown Packet
in 1845 and the Ottawa Sun
, and one French newspaper, Le Droit
Multiple Canadian television broadcast networks and systems, and an extensive number of radio stations, broadcast in both English and French.
In addition to the market's local media services, Ottawa is home to several national media operations, including CPAC
(Canada's national legislature broadcaster
and the parliamentary bureau staff of virtually all of Canada's major newsgathering organizations in television, radio and print. The city is also home to the head office of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
, although it is not the primary production location of most CBC radio or television programming.
Twin towns – sister cities
- ^ Extreme high and low temperatures in the table below were recorded at Ottawa from March 1872 to October 1889 and at Ottawa CDA from November 1889 to present.
- ^ In early 2001, the Province of Ontario dissolved the former City of Ottawa by amalgamating it with eleven other municipalities to form a new City of Ottawa. The 1996 adjusted population of the amalgamated city published in the 2001 census was 721,136, while the population of the dissolved former City of Ottawa in 2001 was 337,031.
- ^ NHL Media Guide 2010. The original Senators (also known as the Ottawa Hockey Club) organization won eleven Stanley Cups, not the current organization founded in 1990. Neither the NHL or the Senators claim the current Senators to be a continuation of the original organization or franchise. The awards, statistics and championships of both eras are kept separate and the NHL franchise founding date of the current Senators is in 1991.
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