Ottawa FAQ

Despite being the capital of Canada, Ottawa is one of the lesser-explored cities in the country. Here are some frequently-asked questions about the capital of the second largest country in the world.

What is there to do in Ottawa?

Being the capital of Canada, many of the attractions in Ottawa relate to government. One of the most visited sites is the seat of the Canadian government at Parliament Hill. Additionally, a number of museums can be found throughout the city, including the Canadian War Museum, the Science and Technology Museum, the Canadian Museum of History, and the National Gallery.
For those less interested in history and government, the city’s thriving tech sector has meant plenty of growth for other attractions. Notably for sports fans, the Ottawa Senators, an NHL team, plays in the city, as do the Redblacks (a Canadian Football League team) and Ottawa Fury FC, a United Soccer League club.

Where is Ottawa?

Ottawa is located on the border of Ontario and Quebec. It was originally chosen to be Canada’s capital as a compromise between French-speaking Canadians, who would have prefered Montreal, and English-speaking Canadians, who would have prefered Toronto. The fact that it was little more than a trading post when selected to be the capital has long been a source of humor for commentators on Canadian politics: One American source said that the new capital would never have to worry about invaders as any army would get lost in the woods on the way to Ottawa.

That is not to say that Ottawa’s site did not have a number of advantages. The Ottawa, Rideau, and Gatineau rivers converge in Ottawa, and it is also at the northern end of the Rideau Canal.

What Time is it in Ottawa?

Ottawa is a part of the Eastern Time Zone, meaning that it is the same time in Ottawa as it is in Toronto or Montreal, but also as in New York, Washington, or Miami. Of particular note is that Canada as a whole tends to share the same approach to daylight savings time that is used in the United States. As a result, people in Ottawa lose an hour on the second Sunday in March and gain one on the first Sunday in November.

What Province is Ottawa in?

Unlike in the United States, Ottawa is not in a separate province. Instead, it is legally located in the province of Ontario, albeit on the border with Quebec. In fact, its metro area extends to the Quebecois city of Gatineau. However, unlike other parts of Canada in which location within a province dictates the language spoken, both English and French are widely used by the largely bilingual population of Ottawa. While bilingualism may have not caught on in other parts of Canada, it is fully embraced in Ottawa.

How Far is Ottawa from Toronto?

Toronto and Ottawa are more than 440 km (273 miles) away from one another. Flights frequently operate, and there is also a freeway connection between the two cities. Connectivity between Toronto and Ottawa has long been a major theme of Canadian infrastructure, as Ottawa connects through rivers to Montreal. It was this problem that led to the construction of the Rideau Canal, to ensure an efficient way to move goods from the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes, specifically Lake Erie and thus Toronto. In this regard, the Rideau Canal played a similar role in Canadian history as the Erie Canal did in American history.

What is the Temperature in Ottawa?

Ottawa is one of the coldest national capitals in the world during the winter, with a typical snowpack of 22cm (9 inches) remaining on the ground throughout the winter. Residents of Ottawa can expect to see nearly 224 cm (88 inches) of snow throughout the winter months. Temperatures during this time of year routinely get as low as -20 degrees C (-4 degrees F).
That does not make summers any more cool. In fact, summers in Ottawa can be hot and humid, with temperatures routinely going above 26 degrees C (80 degrees F), with humidity ranging from 50% to 80%.

What is the Population of Ottawa?

With a population of 964,000, Ottawa is the fourth-largest city in Canada and the second biggest in Ontario. Much of that growth has come in the last few decades as high tech industry has flocked to a city once known only for being the country’s capital. Additionally, the Ottawa metro area has a population of 1.3 million, making it the fifth largest in the country. This count includes the city of Gatineau, across the Ottawa River in Quebec.

How Big is Ottawa?

The City of Ottawa itself occupies nearly 2,800 square kilometers (1,080 square miles), of which about a fifth is urbanized. To put that into perspective, Rhode Island is only slightly larger at 1,212 square miles. The metro area of Ottawa includes an area that is twice as large, spreading to 5,716 square kilometers (2,207 square miles).
How Old is Ottawa

Ottawa’s strategic location, as well as abundant supplies of lumber, meant that it was settled relatively early in Canadian history. A permanent settlement was established by 1800. However, growth in the region did not take off until 1826, when news of the construction of the Rideau Canal broke.