What were we thinking? When John and I planned our Ontario route, we allotted ourselves 3 days to explore our nation’s capital city. Not nearly enough time. I am not sure that two weeks would be enough time – there are so many interesting institutions to tour, and sites to visit.
Ottawa is the fourth largest city in Canada, and was founded in 1826. 2011 census pegs the city’s population at 883,300.
We decided to take a double-decker bus tour of the city on our first day. These hop on- hop off buses are an excellent mode to make your way to the principal tourist sites in a city.
Ottawa has a plethora of world-class museums and historic sites:
National Gallery of Canada
Canadian War Museum
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Canada Agriculture Museum
Supreme Court of Canada
We did a formal tour of the Centre Block of Parliament (the parliament buildings are arranged around three sides of Parliament Hill), which required a security check similar to those at an airport. The group was taken through the House of Commons and the Senate chambers, the library and the Peace Tower. The architecture of the building was so extraordinary and inspiring. The Centre Block was destroyed by fire in 1916, but was rebuilt over the next 11 years including the 302 foot Peace Tower – which was dedicated to the Canadians who lost their lives in the First World War. Parliament Hill attracts over 3 million visitors each year.
The Federal government is the city’s largest employer – 110,000 people. In 2012 – the magazine MoneySense ranked Ottawa as the best community in Canada to live in (for the third consecutive year).
We both commented that about the youthfulness of the population. Ottawa would not be considered a retirement city – the median age is 37 years of age. The city is home to two prestigious universities: University of Ottawa and Carleton University.
Ottawa has been rated as the third cleanest city in the world.
We were very fortunate to get tickets to the Cirque du Soleil show TOTEM at the Canadian Tire Center. It was wonderful – lots of acrobatics threaded with humor. The performance took place in a Big Top Tent – a great show to take children to.