The capital of Canada, Ottawa, is located in the southeast part of Ontario and is the second largest city in the province. Situated on the Ottawa River's south bank, Ottawa saddles the border between the provinces of Ontario and Québec. There are 883,391 living in the city in 2011 census. The city has a multicultural-bilingual populace with more than 20 percent of the city's population born outside Canada. Three-quarters of the population admit to being Christians, with Catholics making up the majority and members of various Protestant churches making up the rest. French and English became the city's official languages in 2002, with municipal business needed to be conducted in bilingual fashion. This also made Ottawa the biggest city that recognizes the two tongues as official languages.
Climate in Ottawa is characterized as continental, with summers that tend to be very warm and humid. Temperatures in July have been known to rise to 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit). The cooler months from December to March can go down to -15 degrees Celsius or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit where snow and ice are very common. The city has an annual snowfall of 235 centimeters or 93 inches.
Ottawa also has a high quality of living standard, one of the highest for a large city anywhere in the world. It is even one of the cleanest cities in Canada (and therefore, the world). Ottawa also has a very educated population with more than half of the populace college or university graduates. The city also boasts a high concentration of scientists, engineers, and PhD holders.
HOW IT BEGAN
Ottawa is actually a derivation from “adawe,” a word used by the Algonquin Native American tribe to mean "to trade." The Algonquin people used to occupy the area where Ottawa is now, as well as the surrounding Ottawa Valley. However, they were more or less forced to move when the Europeans arrived during the fur and lumber trade period in the 19th century. Earlier known as Bytown, it was already a center of politics during and after the American Revolution, mainly because of its strategic location. The 1940s saw the development of a National Capital Region, which comprises of Ottawa and neighboring Gatineau City of Québec province. In 2001, the city underwent a major amalgamation of twelve municipalities to expand the city's land area and population.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT...
╣Parliament Hill (or just The Hill), an area in Ottawa River's south banks in the city's downtown. It is the location of the Gothic revival style building called the Parliament of Canada, as well as other supporting parliament buildings. Did you know that a military installation used to stand on the same site? Now, it is a frequent destination for tourists, which can go up to 3 million or more a year.
╣the Peace Tower or, more correctly, the Tower of Victory and Peace. It is the tallest structure in Ottawa's Parliament Hill and is a well-known national icon which appears in two Canadian bills. It is a Victorian Gothic style clock and bell tower with more than 350 grotesques, gargoyles, and other sculptures jutting out of the building's sides to act as bizarre-looking downspouts.
╣Place de Ville, a complex of hotels and office units in the city's downtown area. Tower C, one of the complex's four buildings, is considered Ottawa's highest building.
╣the Supreme Court of Canada, also located at the south bank of Ottawa River. The building is open for public viewing from 9 am to 5 pm, even on weekends and holidays from May to August. You can even sit in during an appeal hearing if the court is currently in session! You should know that the guided tours here are almost always conducted by law students.
╣the National Arts Center (NAC), designated as a national historic area in 2006. You will note the hexagon and triangle shapes that dominate the Brutalist style building, which opened in 1969. The NAC is one of the largest facilities in Canada to hold performing arts events and has already hosted thousands of amateur artists from Canada and from other countries throughout the world.
╣Rideau Canal, a 202-kilometer waterway designated as one of UNESCO's World Heritage sites in 2007. The canal is still operational since it opened in 1832 with most of its original structures still intact. Although the canal was used for commercial and military purposes, it is mainly used now as a waterway for recreational activities.
╣Winterlude, an annual outdoor festival celebrated in various places in Ottawa and the neighboring Gatineau city on weekends during the winter season. The Rideau Canal, which ices over during wintertime, becomes a very large skating rink and a venue for various musical concerts.
╣Museum of Nature. If you are into ecology or environmental advocacy, you may be interested in the museum's exhibits and activities meant focus on people's relationship with nature.
╣Ottawa's restaurants, which reflects the cultural diversity in the city. Tourists frequently go to Little Italy or Chinatown, but you shouldn't forget more recent favorite cuisines from Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and Easter Europe.
╣Gatineau Park. Although most of the park is in the neighboring city of Gatineau, anyone traveling to Ottawa should include this in the list of places they should check out. The park it is about 15 minutes from Parliament Hill and consists of a variety of ecosystems to cover an area of over 36,130 hectares. If you are fascinated by the beauty of nature and the outdoors, you should go see this place.
TOURISTS SHOULD KNOW
The best guided tours and tourist packages for various sites in the city are available in both Ontario and Québec provinces. Greyhound Canada also provides public transport services from the station in the city, as well as other bus companies.
Also, you should know that shops in Ontario usually accept payment through credit cards or debits from cards or ATMs. Canadian stores usually accept credit cards like MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. You can be charged up to $2 per ATM transaction, but you should clarify with your home bank on other fees it may charge you.