In anticipation of my upcoming trip to Ottawa next weekend I have started to do some research and contacted Ottawa Tourism. Ottawa, as Canada’s capital, is one of Canada’s most popular travel destinations and it has a great variety destinations, activities and events to offer.
I had an opportunity to talk with Jantine Van Kregten from Ottawa Tourism who was kind enough to give me a great general overview of things to see and do in Ottawa.
1. Please provide us with some general information about Ottawa. How large is the city, where is it located, what is the weather like?
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, and its fourth largest city. With the neighbouring city of Gatineau in the province of Quebec, the region has about 1.2 million people. Ottawa is located in eastern Ontario, about four hours’ drive northeast of Toronto; two hours west of Montreal; and one hour north of the border with the state of New York.
Ottawa enjoys four distinct seasons, with warmest temperatures and sometimes high humidity in July and August; a temperate fall with gorgeous fall colours; a cold and snowy winter; and a wet spring.
2. How can one get to Ottawa and what is the best way of getting around in Ottawa?
Ottawa is accessible with direct flights from major centres in Canada and several U.S. cities including New York, Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta and more. Ottawa is a major stop along the Windsor-Quebec City corridor of VIA Rail and bus service also links the city with other Canadian cities.
By car, major thoroughfares include Highway 416 that links Ottawa with Highway 401. Highway 417 runs through the city, while Autoroutes 5, 50 and 148 are the major highways on the Quebec side of the river.
3. Ottawa is Canada’s capital and has played a significant role in the history of this country. Please tell us more about that and the Canadian Heritage Experiences offered in Ottawa.
The story of Ottawa begins with the building of the Rideau Canal between 1826 and 1832 by Lt. Col. John By of the Royal Engineers and thousands of mostly Irish labourers. The Canal stretches 202 km (126 miles) through eastern Ontario to the St. Lawrence River and was built to ensure a supply line in case of American attack (which never came). The Canal was never used for a military purpose and its 49 locks are still operated in the same way as when they were built. In fact, the Rideau Canal is Canada’s nominee to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is expected in 2007, the 175th anniversary of its construction.
Queen Victoria decreed in 1857 that Ottawa would be the capital of the country that became Canada. The majestic Parliament Buildings were constructed shortly thereafter and remain a “must-see” attraction in the capital. As the capital, Ottawa is also home to 24 Sussex Drive (the prime minister’s residence and not open to the public); Rideau Hall (home of the …