Ottawa

Ottawa is the capital of Canada. The city is situated on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, opposite Gatineau, Quebec. The metropolitan population of Ottawa is just under a million. It is the sixth largest city in Canada (fourth largest if Gatineau is included), and the second largest in Ontario after Toronto.

The city is bilingual: English is the first language of a majority of the population, but French is the first language of roughly 15%. Ottawa is home to Canada's largest French-speaking population outside of Quebec. Staff in most stores and restaurants speak both well and, in general, bilingualism is common.

The Peace Tower, Parliament Hill

Ottawa is home to many of the world's cultures as thousands of immigrants from around the world now call Ottawa home. The city is probably best known as the nation's capital but has become one of the fastest growing cities in North America owing to the booming high-tech business sector.

Understand

History

Ottawa started as a humble lumber town called Bytown; it was named after Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers who oversaw the construction of the Rideau Canal, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, much of which was done by hand, between 1826 and 1832. Lumber mills were built along the Ottawa River in the mid-nineteenth century and those brought employment and wealth to the growing population. The centre of action then, as now, was the Byward Market. While it is still the centre of the city's nightlife, it has changed appreciably from the rough and tumble early days of brothels and taverns.

In 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the capital of Canada. The choice was controversial, partly because it sidestepped the rivalry between Toronto and Montreal (then, as now, Canada's largest cities), and partly because the new capital was still a tiny outpost in the middle of nothing much — an American newspaper famously commented that it was impregnable, as any invaders would get lost in the woods looking for it.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the telephone was demonstrated to the Canadian public for the first time and the city was electrified. The first electric streetcar service was started in 1891. A menu from 1892 states that, "the first instance in the entire world of an entire meal being cooked by Electricity" was in Ottawa.

Today, the major economic sectors are the public service, travel and tourism and the high-tech industry. Ottawa has remained a green city and is situated at the confluence of three rivers (Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau) and of the Rideau Canal. Many residents make regular use of Ottawa's parks and green spaces, bikeways and cross country ski trails. Many national attractions are located in Ottawa: Parliament Hill, the National Library and Archives, the National Gallery, and the Museums of History, Contemporary Photography, Nature, War, and Science & Technology.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) -6 -4 2 11 19 24 26 25 20 13 5 -2
Nightly lows (°C) -15 -13 -7 1 7 13 16 14 10 3 -3 -10
Precipitation (mm) 64 52 65 68 81 91 89 88 87 79 77 74

See the Ottawa 7 day forecast at Environment Canada

Visitor information

Get in

By plane

The renovated and expanded Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (IATA: YOW) is Ottawa's main airport with regular arrivals and departures from most major Canadian and many American cities. Services outside North America, however, are limited to a daily flight to London Heathrow and a daily flight to Frankfurt with Air Canada, plus seasonal service to London Gatwick. Air France, KLM, and Swiss International Airlines provide shuttle bus services between Ottawa and Montreal that facilitate connections with their flights operated from Trudeau International Airport. This trip takes about two hours. Via Rail also operates a shuttle bus from the Dorval train station to nearby Trudeau International Airport. This free shuttle service allows one to travel from Ottawa to Dorval (a suburb of Montreal) by rail, and then transfer directly to the airport on a dedicated on-demand bus.

Macdonald-Cartier is easily reached by public transit or taxi and most of the major car rental agencies have a presence at the airport terminal in the parking garage. A taxi to downtown hotels should cost between $25 and $35, while a taxi to nearby hotels should not cost more than $10. YOW Airporter operates a mini-bus shuttle to most downtown hotels for $14 one-way and $24 return.

To reach downtown via public transit, take the #97 bus (the only bus at the airport) and get out at the Mackenzie King transitway stop (14 stops away) at the Rideau Centre shopping mall. If you take this route before 6AM, you will likely follow the more meandering early morning route but will still get to Mackenzie King. To get to the train station, you still take the #97 bus but get out at Hurdman station (10 stops away) and transfer to the #95 eastbound bus to the next stop which is the train station. The bus fare is $3.40 ($3.00 with pre-purchased tickets) which gives you 1.5 hours of unlimited bus travel or $7.95 for an all-day pass. Exact change is required, Remember to ask the bus driver for a transfer even if you do not intend to transfer to another bus. OC Transpo security personnel may get on the bus at any given stop and ask passengers for proof of payment. You will be required to show your transfer or else you will be fined. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it can be embarrassing and expensive.

By bus

There is a Voyageur/Greyhound terminal in Ottawa with regular service to Montreal (departure on the hour from 6AM to midnight), Toronto and other cities in North America. The bus terminal is downtown on the corner of Catherine Street and Kent Street, between Bronson Avenue and Bank Street. Though the bus terminal is downtown, a 15-20 minute walk will get you to most hotels and downtown attractions. Alternatively, a 5-10 minute local bus ride will do the same. (Bus #4, with its stop around the corner from the terminal on Kent Street, is the bus that you will want to take.)

Greyhound buses coming from Montreal also usually make an intermediary "University of Ottawa" stop (actually at Laurier Station near the corner of Laurier Avenue East and Waller Street) before going to the Catherine Street terminal. This stop is closer walking distance to the Byward Market, the Rideau Canal, and Parliament Hill, and is a more central city transit hub. It may be necessary to request the stop with the driver.

In 2014, a coach from Toronto would cost between $34 and $73 ($48 with a Hostelling international discount) and would take 5 to 6 hours. There were 8 coaches a day.

A taxi to most downtown hotels should cost between $8 and $15, and buses are $3.55 cash (change is not available) or $3.20 with pre-purchased tickets. This gives the riders approximately 2 hours of use. A daily bus pass is also available for purchase on the bus for $8.30.

By train

Passenger train service is run by Via Rail in Canada and the main train station in Ottawa,   Ottawa Station (IATA: XDS), is less than ten minutes from downtown by car, taxi or bus. There are six trains daily leaving for Montreal and intermediate points, with five trains daily to Toronto and points in between. Service is reduced on Saturday, Sundays and holidays.

Ottawa has two train stations, the Ottawa Station near downtown, and a secondary station,   Fallowfield Station, in the western suburb of Barrhaven, convenient for Nepean and Kanata points. All trains to Toronto stop at Fallowfield; two of the six weekday trains to Montreal originate or terminate at Fallowfield.

Ottawa Station is on a high frequency bus route (#94 or #95) and takes only 5 minutes to get you downtown, heading west. Fallowfield station is also on the #94 and #95 bus route but at the far south-west end.

It is possible to get downtown from the main train station on foot, although it requires a bit of navigation. This path should not be taken alone after dark and may be flooded after periods of intense rain or snow melting. Have a street map with you so you can locate yourself once you have reached Strathcona Park. The station to Strathcona Park takes about half an hour (2.5 km). Another half hour from the park to downtown. A map is available online.

  1. On exiting the station, walk along the west (left-hand) arm of the vehicle loop and across the Transitway bridge.
  2. Before reaching Tremblay Road, take the bike path to your left going west.
  3. The path will take you along the bus lanes and will pass over Riverside Drive.
  4. You will merge with a path coming up from Riverside Drive; continue walking west, away from the street.
  5. Shortly after that, you will come to a fork; go right (north) and continue until you see a pedestrian bridge on your left.
  6. Take the pedestrian bridge over the Rideau River.
  7. Immediately after the pedestrian bridge, turn right towards the north.
  8. Take the paved bike path, go under the highway bridge and keep following the Rideau River northward for about 1 km.
  9. Once you reach the end of the path, you are in Strathcona Park.
  10. Use a street map or an on-line map service to find your way from Strathcona Park to your downtown destination; at the north end of the park is Laurier Avenue, a major east-west street; parallel to it and several blocks north is Rideau Street.

By boat

Sailing up the Rideau Canal

The Ottawa (Outaouais) River is navigable from Ottawa to Montréal, but is blocked to the west by rapids within Ottawa-Hull.

The city is also accessible via the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which runs from the St. Lawrence River at Kingston to the Ottawa River at Ottawa where it empties via a series of locks. It is possible to dock at Dow's Lake Pavilion and at points along the Rideau Canal and Ottawa River near downtown.

By car

By car, Ottawa is about a 4.5 hour trip from Toronto via the 401 and 416 highways, or via highway 7. Montreal is 2 hours away via Highway 417, the Trans-Canada Highway. The American border at Prescott-Ogdensburg is forty-five minutes from Ottawa's western suburbs (at the opposite end of Highway 416) with Interstate 81 60km (40 miles) further upriver in the Thousand Islands.

Get around

Public transit

Ottawa rapid transit map

The city's public transit is run by OC Transpo and includes the bus service and the O-Train light rail system. The network includes the Transitway, a bus rapid transit system running through and out of downtown partly on bus-only roads, with frequent service (on the order of 1 to 2 minutes, depending on your stop and final destination, at rush hour). The City of Ottawa is building a light rail system; many OC Transpo routes will be affected during the 2013-2018 construction period.

The bus fare for regular routes is $3.55 or two tickets. Tickets cost $1.60 each and are available from local stores in sheets of six (but some stores will sell smaller numbers at a time). Children 6 to 11 years of age require only one ticket. Upon boarding, make sure that you are given a transfer, which allows you to ride any number of buses or trains until its expiry (in roughly 1.5 hours). The transfer is also your proof of payment in case fare enforcers board the bus to check that passengers have paid. A day pass can be purchased on any bus for $8.30 and is good for both buses and the train. On Sundays, families (up to two adults and four children, age 11 and under) can share a day pass.

The O-Train operates on a "Proof of Payment" (POP) system. Valid proof of payment is a bus transfer (see above), or an O-Train ticket purchased from the automated vending machines for $3.55. The vending machine does not accept bus tickets, nor are bus tickets acceptable proof of payment. Children 11 and under can ride the O-Train for free. Articulated buses (the long ones) use this same POP system as well, where rear boarding is available to pass holders.

Although the downtown is very walkable, if you are within the downtown area (Lebreton station to Campus station), you can take any bus going east-west. If you are going to the Byward Market from the Transitway (#95, #96, #97, #85, #86, #87), get off at Rideau Centre and walk through the mall to the other end. To go North-South, take the #4 (to Catherine Street, edge of Centretown), the #7 (edge of Old Ottawa South) or the #1 (all the way down Bank Street to Ottawa South).

The city's two main universities are accessible from this system: University of Ottawa at the Laurier or Campus stations on the 95/97/etc. line, and Carleton University at the Carleton stop on the O-Train line or bus line #7. The U of O area (Sandy Hill) is well endowed with pubs, coffee shops and restaurants. Carleton's immediate surroundings do not have those; their student hangouts are away from the university, mostly in the Glebe.

The Ottawa Transitway (dedicated roads on which only buses are allowed) offers speedy travel to outlying areas, where you can then transfer over to local buses, if walking is not an option.

By taxi

Taxis are easy to find downtown; elsewhere, phone for a cab. All taxis should have a meter and the base charge is $2.45, and overall rates are quite high compared to most other North American cities. A ride from downtown to the airport will be costly, running between $25 and C$35. Cabs will not take credit cards for fares below $10. Most cab drivers know Ottawa well, but have clear instructions if you're going anywhere in the suburbs as many developments in the outskirts are relatively new. Ottawa cabs aren't supposed to pick up customers off the street on the Quebec side; the converse applies to Quebec cabs in Ottawa. You may phone a Quebec cab if you are in Ottawa and vice versa.

By car

Parking at most attractions is convenient, though on-street parking in downtown areas is at a premium (more expensive than most other cities in North America). If you are driving to downtown on the weekend, parking is free in the garage at the World Exchange Plaza. There are entrances to the garage on both Metcalfe Street and Queen Street. A map is useful if you are going to be driving around downtown as many of the streets are one-way and more than one visitor has complained about navigating the downtown core. Be warned that drivers in Ottawa are rated as some of the worst in Canada, often failing to signal for lane changes or making "illegal" turns into far lanes rather than the ideal/closest lane.

Most major car rental companies have several offices in Ottawa with all of them represented downtown and at the airport.

On foot

Ottawa is a great city to explore on foot, though in winter you need good clothes and boots to consider it. With pedestrian-friendly streets and the density of attractions, a car is expensive and unnecessary for the most part. An excellent place to start any tour of Ottawa is the Capital Information Kiosk, located at 90 Wellington Street, directly across from the Parliament buildings. They have maps and brochures for most tourist attractions in Ottawa, many of which are within walking distance.

Popular pedestrian areas, especially during spring and summer months, are the various streets in the Byward Market. Sparks Street, running through downtown parallel to the Parliament Buildings, is a popular pedestrian area during the day and night, particularly in the spring and summer months.

Guided walking tours are available with Ottawa Walking Tours and others such as Around About Ottawa. All tours include some history as well as other tidbits of trivia not commonly known. Especially popular is the Haunted Walk of Ottawa that provides a variety of walking tours focusing on the city's darker and more offbeat past.

Ottawa is a city with a truly continental climate. In winter, exposed skin can freeze in minutes or less, so layer up on the clothing and protect yourself by wearing a hat (toque or hunters cap), gloves and boots. Despite being closer to the North Pole than the equator, summer temperature and humidity can be oppressively high, so bring water if you're doing any amount of walking or cycling. If you are on the public pathways near the canal or the river, there are drinking fountains to refill your bottles. Also, don't forget the mosquito repellent.

By bicycle

There are usually a few options for renting bicycles downtown, including Bike Dump, and of course you can always bring your own. Ottawa is very accessible to cyclists. Again, you may want to start immediately opposite Parliament Hill to pick up a map of the area or find a bicycle rental. Cycling to the attractions around downtown Ottawa is a great way to get around, but don't ignore the Gatineau side of the river. They have several attractions along the river including the Museum of History and if you want to really stretch your legs, Gatineau Park has many great cycling paths.

You can also get a bicycle for shorter time periods via the Bixi de la Capitale bike sharing system. Bike stations are to be found mainly along the Rideau Canal. The service is $7 a day and you can take a bike up to 30 min each time without additional charge.

The city is criss-crossed by over 170 km of multi-use paths, shared with pedestrians and in-line skaters. Dogs on leash are allowed along many of the paths, but only if the owner is on foot. The city provides Interactive Maps. In addition, the city closes 50 km of roadways to cars every Sunday during the summer from Victoria Day (May 24) to Labour Day (early September) allowing for cycling, in-line skating and walking on these roadways.

OC Transpo has bicycle racks on the front of many buses. You can load your bike on the rack and then ride the bus for the normal passenger fare. The O-Train will take bikes as well.

See

There are many national museums and galleries in Ottawa and neighbouring Gatineau. All museums in Ottawa have free admission on Canada Day, July 1, although they are generally very crowded then.

Parliament Hill, Canada's house of democracy
The National War Memorial near Parliament Hill

The primary attraction for most visitors is   Parliament Hill. Parliament Hill is in the middle of downtown Ottawa, overlooking the Ottawa River. Not only is the building a fine example of the Gothic revival style, it makes an excellent starting point to visit all other points of interest in the area.

Tours of the building are available daily with multiple tours (in English and French) available at staggered times throughout the day. If you have a group of greater than 10 people, you must make a reservation in advance by calling the reservations office at +1 613 996-0896.

The locks divide Parliament Hill from the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, a former railway hotel. This hotel once housed the offices of CBC Radio in Ottawa and the studio of well-known portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh. Several framed Karsh photographs are hung in the hotel lounge. His (and his wife's) home suite is now available for guests and displays a small sampling of framed prints on the walls.

Museum of History (formerly the Museum of Civilization), across the river in Gatineau
Jacques Plante's Goalie Mask on display in the Science and Technology Museum
National Gallery of Canada (left) and Ottawa Cathedral
Museum of History - Atrium

For the sports fan, Ottawa has professional sports teams:

Do

There are a number of walking tours to introduce you to the capital area.

If you enjoy the outdoors, especially if you are a cyclist, you should definitely visit Gatineau Park just across the river from Ottawa. Bicycles can be rented during the summer months at Rentabike, 2 Rideau St, (under Rideau st on the East side of the canal). Ottawa and the surrounding area boasts over 170 km of public paved trails on which you can run, bike, walk or rollerblade. If you are looking for a place to start, head to the nearest waterway: paved trails line both sides of the Ottawa River, the Rideau Canal, and the Rideau River. The Trans Canada Trail enters Ottawa through the outskirt communities of Carleton Place and Stittsville, then joins up with the Ottawa River at Brittania Bay (near Carling Avenue at Bayshore Drive). It follows the river 13 kilometers east to Parliament Hill, then crosses over to the Quebec side, extending into and beyond Gatineau Park.

Skating on the Rideau canal

Day trips to Québec

Since Ottawa is located right on the provincial border, daytrips to neighbouring Québec can be made easily.

Shows

Ottawa has many movie theatres to choose from, but there are also a few that specialize in "foreign" films (i.e., not American), early releases, old returning films and specialty films. The Bytowne Cinema is on Rideau Street near King Edward. The Mayfair Theatre is at 1074 Bank St. near Sunnyside. In addition, the Canadian Film Institute screens films at the National Library on Wellington and is a favourite of the specialist film crowd.

Ottawa has lots of live theatre entertainment. That includes the National Arts Centre in English and French, the Great Canadian Theatre Company, the Ottawa Little Theatre, and Tara Players (Irish theatre).

Jazz and blues lovers can find what they are looking for in these Ottawa music calendars: jazz shows and blues-jazz calendar. Venues include Vineyards in the Byward Market, GigSpace near Little Italy, and the Options Jazz Lounge in the Brookstreet Hotel (in Kanata). Many other venues offer jazz weekly or occasionally; see this club list. Find Blues at the Rainbow in the Byward Market and Irene's Pub in the Glebe.

For Folk music, see the Ottawa Folk Music Events listings.

Ottawa is host to over 60 festivals and events per year, including:

Learn

The two best known universities in the city are Carleton University and the bilingual University of Ottawa. Bilingual St. Paul's University is a Catholic university with ties to the University of Ottawa, offering various degrees in theology and social sciences. Dominican University College is a Dominican university where theology and philosophy can be studied at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, also in English or French. There is also Algonquin College and the francophone Cité Collégiale.

Work

The Federal Government is the region's largest employer with the high-tech sector firmly in second place. Unless you are a Canadian resident, you will need a work visa to work in Ottawa, and some Federal Government jobs require Canadian citizenship.

Buy

ByWard Market

Larger shopping malls include the Rideau Centre (downtown), St. Laurent Shopping Centre (East Central), Place D'Orleans (East End), the Bayshore Shopping Centre and Carlingwood Mall (West End).

The last Saturday in May, Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood hosts the annual Great Glebe Garage Sale. Hundreds of residents set-up tables in their garages or on their lawns and sell used goods ranging from household knick-knacks to electronics to clothing. Businesses in the area also hold sidewalk sales, and vendors sell artwork, baking, and refreshments. Driving and parking during the sale itself is unnecessary and nearly impossible. Arrive on foot or park and walk into the neighbourhood. For parking, and for the best deals (especially on larger items like furniture), arrive early. The event is bustling by 8 AM but continues well into the afternoon. Vendors are encouraged to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Ottawa Food Bank.

Eat

Ethnic foods from around the world are available at a wide variety of restaurants and street vendors throughout the city. The Byward Market area has a wide selection of different cuisines; the Chinatown area is along Somerset West (#2 bus from downtown). between Bronson Ave. and Preston St; Little Italy runs along the length of Preston Street, from Carling Avenue to Albert Street (#2 to Somerset & Preston or #3 along Preston).

Ottawa's claim to culinary fame: a beavertail with sugar and cinnamon

Also try the tasty BeaverTail, a doughy, deep-fried pastry associated with Ottawa, although a number of places claim to have created it. It's available in sweet and savory versions, topped with cinnamon, sugar, icing sugar, etc. In the winter, many places will offer it on the canal. During the summer, the only place downtown to offer it is in the Byward Market on George St. There are a variety of toppings and the taste of the beaver tail arguably stands out more with the classic sugar & cinnamon. However, the locals' favourite is the Killaloe Sunrise, a topping of cinnamon sugar and lemon juice. Try a poutine from Smoke's Poutinerie, or a Shwarma from one of the many around the city.

Coffee shops are found throughout the city, and include dozens of two specialty chains Second Cup and Starbucks, in addition to the mainstream Tim Horton's (seemingly planted at every intersection). Bridgehead is a fair trade coffee house and can be found at a half dozen or so locations. Try their small double shot lattes, which are significantly better than their competitors'. There are several coffee houses in Little Italy, on Preston Street. One of the most popular, Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana (200 Preston Street, +1 613 594-5303), also houses an award-winning pastry shop. Raw Sugar in Chinatown is a great little coffee shop with a kitschy decor and tasty homemade snacks. At night it turns into a hipster music venue.

Budget

Ottawa has a huge number of shawarma (kebab and fixings in pita bread) restaurants and most of them will serve up a great shawarma for around $5. Their busy times are typically weekdays at lunch-hour, and on weekends after the bars close. The Byward Market and Elgin St. have several restaurants to choose from. Shawarma Palace, on Rideau St and in several suburban locations, are another popular choice.

The usual range of diners, bagel shops and fast food restaurants can be found in shopping areas throughout the city. You will also find "chip wagons" or "chip trucks" parked in various locations around the city at lunch time. They serve hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage-in-a-bun, pogos (deep fried, breaded hot dogs on a stick), chips (French fries) and poutine (French fries covered with cheddar cheese curd and gravy - very popular in Quebec and eastern Ontario).

Mid-range

Major restaurant areas can be found on Elgin Street, on Bank Street in Centretown, on Bank Street in the Glebe, in Westboro and in the Byward Market, with entrees ranging from $12–$25. Similar restaurants can be found in major suburban shopping areas too.

Splurge

Ottawa has excellent options for fine dining if you feel like spending a bit extra. Budget C$150 for a three course dinner for two, including wine and gratuity.

Vegetarian and vegan

Drink

The most popular bar areas are in the Byward Market, along Wellington Street in Westboro, along both Elgin Street and Bank Street between Somerset and Gladstone in the Centretown area, and further south on Bank. There are pubs and bars scattered throughout the city as well.

You can also take a small trip over the Ottawa river to Gatineau. Bars on Ottawa side close at 2AM, though the province of Québec has a last call of 3AM, an exception is made in Gatineau where bars also close at 2AM. Québec has a lower minimum age to purchase alcohol (18, vs. 19 in Ontario) and sells beer in corner stores. Note, however, that Ottawa police often set up checkpoints near the bridges to catch drunk drivers returning from Quebec after closing time.

Note that smoking is not permitted in Ontario or Quebec restaurants and bars, or on the patios of bars in Ottawa.

Bars and nightclubs

Pubs

Since the mid-1990s there has been an explosion in Irish-/British-style pubs across the city. In the core you will find:

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Chateau Laurier (left) and Parliament Hill overlooking the Ottawa River

Connect

The area codes for Ottawa are 613 and the overlay code 343. Hull (819, overlaid with 873) has the full Ottawa local calling area. Ten-digit dialling (area code+local number) is required for all local calls.

Stay safe

Ottawa is a very safe place to live and visit, so if you use common sense it is at least as safe as any other city. There are many tourists in the city, especially in summer months, and there are very few incidents of robbery or assault.

That said, buses and transit stations have had issues in recent years with violence and swarmings/robberies, even during daytime hours. OC Transpo has hired new constables and placed plainclothes security and cameras on select buses and trains to counter the problem. Use common sense, especially when riding at night, every transit station has multiple emergency call boxes. After dark, take extra care in areas near downtown such as Lowertown, and also Hintonburg, Vanier, Bayshore, Ledbury, Heatherington, Caldwell and South Keys. These neighbourhoods are known to have gang presence and drug problems. The section of Rideau Street between Sussex Drive and King Edward Avenue is infamous for homeless people and panhandlers, though this rarely causes problems for anyone. Ottawa is generally very safe, but like any other city it has bad apples.

Ottawa is the fourth coldest capital city by annual average temperature, but it has the second coldest January, only topped by Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Add to that nearly 3m (10') of snow per average winter and throw in an ice storm from time to time, winter can be a challenge but locals do a great job of handling it particularly with recreation. Summers are (normally) short, hot and humid. Humidity in the summer can make the heat feel quite aggressive, while in the winter, humidity, coupled with wind chills, can make the cold feel very brutal. Dress for the weather!

See also: Cold weather

Cope

Embassies and High Commissions

Go next

Just across the river from Ottawa is the city of Gatineau, which has the stunning Canadian Museum of History and some mighty good restaurants too. It is the centre of the Outaouais region which includes the lovely village of Wakefield, and Gatineau Park with its high cliffs and deep, clear lakes. A little further west is the Pontiac where you will find small rural towns and rafting expeditions. There is a bus service from Ottawa and Gatineau to the Pontiac. You can cycle from Quyon to Pembroke on 72 kms of railway bed turned into a bike trail. Stop by the Shawville Fair in late August/early September.

To the south and east of Ottawa is a large flat rural area consisting mostly of small commuter towns, agricultural villages, and the occasional woodland. This lowland stretches all the way to Montreal and the United States border, hundreds of km away. The Rideau Canal runs through it. Among the many scenic towns are Merrickville, which claims to be Canada's prettiest village, and Perth with its mills and heritage buildings.

Going west beyond Kanata, the village of Carp (about 40 minutes away, in West Carleton) houses the surreal Cold War "Central Emergency Government Headquarters" (the Diefenbunker), now a museum. Beyond that is the Ottawa Valley region, towns and farms, then the Madawaska Highlands wilderness area starting about 90 km from Ottawa. In that area is Calabogie, a ski resort in winter and lake resort in summer. A little further on is another wilderness recreation area, Algonquin Provincial Park.

Beyond the Ottawa region lie other Canadian cities, such as:

Routes through Ottawa

Kingston Smiths Falls  W  E  END
North Bay Arnprior  W  E  Limoges Montreal
Peterborough Carleton Place  W  E  END
END  N  S  Kemptville Prescott


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