When we ask anyone outside of Canada what Canada’s capital is, we tend to get a lot of wrong answers.
Despite the fact that Toronto, Ontario, is our country’s largest and best-known city, Canada’s capital actually lies northeast of it in the city of Ottawa, Ontario.
(Non-Canadians also quite understandably scratch their heads when it comes to understanding our home city, Vancouver, and its lesser-known cousin, Victoria. The capital of our province, British Columbia, is Victoria. It’s located on Vancouver Island. But the city of Vancouver isn’t – it’s found on the mainland.)
Now that we’ve thoroughly confused you, let’s go back to Ottawa…
Sporting massive Parliament buildings, uniquely designed museums and a thriving downtown core, Ottawa has many interesting places to visit. So when FlightHub, an online travel agency located in nearby Montreal, Quebec, approached us about sharing the scoop on places you should see when in Ottawa, we were delighted. And seeing as it’s the New Year, we’re putting a wintery spin on this FlightHub review (our winter guide to Ottawa).
Conceived as early as 1859, Parliament Hill has housed Canada’s federal government ever since the complex was completed in 1876, nine years after the formation of Canada in 1867.
A major fire destroyed much of the complex in 1916, and though Canada was at war at the time, rebuilding Parliament became a priority. Eleven years later, the Peace Tower was built as well, commemorating those lost in World War I.
Parliament Hill has been the scene of many historic ceremonies in Canada, including the VE Day celebrations, the first raising of Canada’s new flag in 1965, and the celebration of Canada’s Centennial in 1967.
Today, Parliament Hill is a beautiful area to tour on foot. It features many statues of famous Canadian figures (like Sir John A. Macdonald, our first prime minister), monuments commemorating veterans and police, and also the Rideau Canal.
Perhaps FlightHub’s most recommended Ottawa attraction, the Rideau Canal is one of Canada’s most popular and iconic sites – and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For decades, families have skated and played ice hockey on the canal. Skating in winter, in fact, is what the Rideau Canal is most famous for today.
You’ll love skating on the groomed “Skateway,” which stretches for almost five miles from Ottawa’s downtown area to Dows Lake (together, the canal and Dows Lake form the “largest, naturally frozen skating rink in the world”).
Gliding along the ice as a way of getting around has even been done by members of Parliament and prime ministers over the years!
Yes, it’s a truly Canadian tradition. If you get the chance, do hop on the ice and go for a skate on this picturesque canal.
There are three museums you’ll want to check out in Ottawa.
First is the National Gallery of Canada. Considered one of Canada’s finest galleries, this museum focuses on Canadian art. But it also has some foreign collections, including several of Andy Warhol’s most famous pieces. Outside in front of the gallery, you can’t miss the sculpture of a gargantuan spider (“Maman”), complete with a sac of large white marble eggs under her belly – a great photo opp, by the way!
Next is the Canadian Museum Of Nature. It has an impressive fossil collection, a live insectarium and other nature-inspired exhibits.
And then there’s the Canadian War Museum, which features displays from Canada’s war history.
Disclosure: As mentioned, bringing you this winter guide to Ottawa has been made possible by the nice folks at FlightHub :-).