Ottawa : Top 10

(continuer en français) – Last updated: February 18, 2023

Capital of the Province of Canada in 1857 and then of the Dominion in 1867, Ottawa is located on the edge of Ontario and Quebec but does not have a separated territory like other federal capitals. Its unique position is a direct result of the completion of the Rideau Canal in 1832. Its main landmarks are related to its federal functions.

01. Parliament

Parliament Hill overlooks the Ottawa River. Canada has a parliamentary system copied from British institutions. Parliament is made up of the Senate and the House of Commons, with the latter electing the Prime Minister. The building was originally constructed in 1859 and was extensively rebuilt after a fire in 1916.

02. Rideau Hall

The official residence of the Governor General of Canada, representative of the Queen of England, is a former patrician mansion that was leased and later purchased by the authorities after the capital moved to Ottawa. The buildings were later adjusted to its new function, which became more representational than executive over time. The public is widely welcomed.

03. Supreme Court

Created with the Dominion of Canada in 1867, the Supreme Court is composed of nine members appointed by the Governor General on the decision of the Prime Minister. Beyond bilingualism, Canadian law is divided into civil law based on the Code Napoléon in Quebec, while common law applies in the other provinces, which complicates appointments.

04. Women are persons

One of the most famous cases dealt with by the Canadian Supreme Court. It was asked whether the interpretation of the word ‘person’ extended to women. The answer was no, but the Privy Council in London overruled the Court’s decision in 1929. The five Alberta women who fought this legal battle are often celebrated for the progress they achieved in women’s rights.

05. Laurier House

This 1878 house was inhabited by Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier from 1897 to 1919, then offered to his successor Mackenzie King who lived there from 1921 to 1950, in turn offering it to Canada. Although it did not become the official residence of prime ministers, it became a museum showcasing the careers of its two main residents as well as Canadian political life.

06. Château Laurier

This luxurious hotel is in the tradition of the prestigious hotels built at the end of the 19th century by the railway companies, such as the Château Frontenac in Quebec City. The Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier having helped to build the one in Ottawa, its name was given to it. Because of its location, the hotel is very closely connected to Canadian political life.

07. Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal was constructed from 1826 to 1832 under the direction of Engineer John By, it connects the Ottawa River with Lake Ontario. Its work camp became the City of Ottawa. The canal ends with a series of locks to reach the river. In winter the canal becomes a giant skating rink, in summer it is still used for recreational boating along its 124 miles, 200 kilometres.

08. By Market

The market is named after Engineer John By who supervised the Rideau Canal work. Expansions and fires have resulted in many changes to the Market layout over time. In recent years it tends to become a festive street entertainment venue for buskers with a concentration of restaurants and bars, and even nightclubs.

09. City Hall

The John G. Diefenbaker Building, now occupied by federal administrations, used to be Ottawa’s City Hall. Obviously oversized after the expansion in the 1990s, the building was eventually sold. The curious construction of useless metal beams replaces an observation tower that was never built, but for which its architect was insistent.

10. The Response

The National War Memorial honours all Canadian soldiers, both in armed conflict and in peacekeeping missions. It depicts eleven soldiers from all corps crossing an arch to respond to the call of duty. An honour guard stands in front of the monument during the day.

To be informed of upcoming articles, register here (it’s free).

Canadian cities in the Top 10 series:


To be informed of upcoming articles, register here (it’s free!).

Introduction to Canada

To be informed of upcoming articles, register here (it’s free!).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s