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Ottawa ( or sometimes ) is the capital of Canadamarker and a municipality within the Province of Ontariomarker. Located in the Ottawa Valley in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario, the city lies on the southern banks of the Ottawa River, a major waterway forming the local boundary between the Provinces of Ontario and Quebecmarker.The 2006 Census recorded the population at over 812,000, making it the fourth largest municipality in the country and second largest in Ontariomarker. Connected by several bridges to its Quebec neighbour, the City of Gatineaumarker on the northern shores of the Ottawa River, the two cities had a combined 2006 population of over 1,130,000, making it the country's fourth largest metropolitan area.

There is no federal capital district in Canada. Although it does not constitute a separate administrative district, Ottawa is part of the federally designated National Capital Regionmarker (NCR), which encompasses Ottawa, Gatineau, and surroundings areas, having a population of over 1,451,000. The National Capital Commission is a federal crown corporation charged with the responsibility of planning and managing the federal government's interests in the NCR.

As with other national capitals, the word "Ottawa" is also used to refer by metonymy to the country's federal government, especially as opposed to provincial or municipal authorities.


The Ottawa region was long the residence of the Odawa or Odaawaa First Nations people. The Odawa are an Algonquin people who called the river the Kichi Sibi or Kichissippi meaning "Great River" or "Grand River". Historical evidence indicates that the Algonquins over time have occupied portions of the lands of the Ottawa River watershed and travelled through surrounding territory as a hunting and gathering society. The Algonquins of Ontario assert that they never surrendered its territory by treaty, sale, or conquest and have made such claims since 1772. In 1983, the Algonquins of Golden Lake (Pikwàkanagàn) presented to the Government of Canada a claim to Aboriginal rights and title within the Ontario portion of the Ottawa and Mattawa River watersheds. Negotiations are ongoing.

Early European explorers of the St. Lawrencemarker and Ottawa Rivers sought new territories, claimed lands in the names of their kings and queens, sought western passages to India and Asia as well as gold and other precious commodities. Amongst the first of commercial enterprises to evolve in the New World after fishing, the fur trade industry, largely influenced by the Hudson Bay Company, used the Ottawa River and its tributaries as the local conveyance for the delivery of fur products to Europe via Montrealmarker and Quebec Citymarker.

The first settlement in the region was led by Philemon Wright, a New Englander from Woburn Massachusettsmarker who, on March 7, 1800 arrived with his own and five other families along with twenty-five labourers to start an agricultural community on the north bank of the Ottawa River at the portage to the Chaudière Fallsmarker. Food crops were not sufficient to sustain the community and Wright began harvesting trees as a cash crop when he determined that he could transport timber by river from the Ottawa Valley to the Montreal and Quebec City markets, which also exported to Europe. His first raft of squared timber and sawn lumber arrived in Quebec City in 1806.

Liked by many European nations for its extremely straight and strong trunk in heavy construction for shipbuilding and housing as well as for furniture, the white pine (Pinus strobus) was found throughout the Ottawa Valley, soon booming based almost exclusively upon the timber trade. By 1812, the timber trade had overtaken the fur trade as the leading economic activity in the area as Ottawa became a centre for lumber milling and square-cut lumber in Canada and North America.

In the years following the War of 1812, in addition to settling some military regiment families (such as the 100th Regiment of Foot at Richmond, Ontariomarker), the government began sponsored immigration schemes which brought over Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants to settle the Ottawa area, which began a steady stream of Irish immigration there in the next few decades. Along with French Canadians who crossed over from Quebec, these two groups provided the bulk of workers involved in the Rideau Canalmarker project and the booming timber trade, both instrumental in putting Ottawa on the map.
The region's population grew significantly when the canal was completed by Colonel John By in 1832. It was intended to provide a secure route between Montreal and Kingstonmarker on Lake Ontariomarker, by-passing the stretch of the St. Lawrence Rivermarker bordering New York Statemarker (the U.S invasions of Canada in the War of 1812 being a recent memory). Construction of the canal began at the northern end, where Colonel By set up a military barracks on what later became Parliament Hillmarker, and laid out a townsite that soon became known as Bytown. Original city leaders of Bytown include a number of Wright's sons,most notably Ruggles Wright. Nicholas Sparks, Braddish Billings and Abraham Dow were the first to settle on the Ontario side of the Ottawa river.

The west side of the canal became known as "Uppertown" where the Parliament buildings are located, while the east side of the canal (wedged between the canal and Rideau River) was known as the "Lowertown". At that time, Lowertownmarker was a crowded, boisterous shanty town, frequently receiving the worst of disease epidemics, such as the Cholera outbreak in 1832, and typhus in 1847.

Bytown was renamed Ottawa in 1855, when it was incorporated as a city.

After World War I much of the National Capital was in disrepair. Many of the old wooden frame structured buildings had been neglected during the war and the area was in need of many upgrades. French urban planner Jacques Greber was hired to work on a master plan for the National Capital Region (the Greber Plan). Jacques Greber was the creator of the National Capital Greenbelt, as well as many other projects throughout the NCR.

Ottawa as the capital

On December 31, 1857, Queen Victoria was asked to choose a common capital for the Province of Canada (modern day Ontario and Quebec) and chose Ottawa. While Ottawa is now a major metropolis and Canada's fourth largest city, at the time it was a sometimes unruly logging town in the hinterland, far away from the colony's main cities, Quebec Citymarker and Montrealmarker in Canada East, and Kingstonmarker and Torontomarker in Canada West.

The Queen's advisers suggested she pick Ottawa for many important reasons: first, it was the only settlement of any significant size located right on the border of Canada East and Canada West (the post 1841 name for the then united regions formerly known as Upper and Lower Canada, today the Quebec/Ontario border), making it a compromise between the two colonies and their French and English populations; second, the War of 1812 had shown how vulnerable major Canadian cities were to American attack, since they were all located very close to the border while Ottawa was (then) surrounded by a dense forest far from the border; third, the government owned a large parcel of land on a spectacular spot overlooking the Ottawa River. Ottawa's position in the back country made it more defensible, while still allowing easy transportation via the Ottawa River to Canada East, and the Rideau Canalmarker to Canada West. Two other considerations were that Ottawa was at a point nearly exactly midway between Toronto and Quebec City (~500 km/310 mi) and that the small size of the town made it less likely that politically motivated mobs could go on a rampage and destroy government buildings, as had been the case in the previous Canadian capitals. The Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal network meant that Ottawa could be supplied by water from Kingston and Montreal without going along the potentially treacherous US-Canada border.

After World War I much of the National Capital was in disrepair. Many of the old wooden frame structured buildings had been neglected during the war and the area was in need of many upgrades. The original Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa was destroyed by fire on February 3, 1916. French urban planner Jacques Greber was hired to work on a master plan for the National Capital Region (the Greber Plan). Jacques Greber was the creator of the National Capital Greenbelt, as well as many other projects throughout the NCR.The House of Commons and Senate were temporarily relocated to the recently constructed Victoria Memorial Museum, currently the Canadian Museum of Naturemarker, located about south of Parliament Hill on McLeod Street at Metcalfe Street. A new Centre Block was completed in 1922, the centrepiece of which is a dominant Gothic revival styled structure known as the Peace Towermarker which has become a common emblem of the city.

On September 5, 1945, only weeks after the end of World War II, Ottawa was the site of the event that many people consider to be the official start of the Cold War. A Sovietmarker cipher clerk, Igor Gouzenko, defected from the Soviet embassy with over 100 secret documents. At first, the Royal Canadian Mounted Policemarker (RCMP) refused to take the documents, as the Soviets were still allies of Canada and Britain, and the newspapers were not interested in the story. After hiding out for a night in a neighbour's apartment, listening to his own home being searched, Gouzenko finally persuaded the RCMP to look at his evidence, which provided proof of a massive Soviet spy network operating in western countries, and, indirectly, led to the discovery that the Soviets were working on an atomic bomb to match that of the Americans.

In 2001, the old city of Ottawa (estimated 2005 population 350,000) was amalgamated with the suburbs of Nepean (135,000), Kanatamarker (85,000), Gloucestermarker (120,000), Rockcliffe Parkmarker (2,100), Vaniermarker (17,000) and Cumberlandmarker (55,000), and the rural townships of West Carleton (18,000), Osgoode (13,000), Rideau (18,000) and Goulbourn (24,000), along with the systems and infrastructure of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carletonmarker, Orléans, Ontario (84,695), to become one municipality. Ottawa-Carleton used to be just Carleton Countymarker before 1969 and consisted of what is now the City of Ottawa except for Cumberland.


Map of Ottawa showing urban area, highways, waterways, and historic townships

Ottawa is situated on the south bank of the Ottawa River, and contains the mouths of the Rideau River and Rideau Canalmarker. The oldest part of the city (including what remains of Bytown) is known as Lower Townmarker, and occupies an area between the canal and the rivers. Across the canal to the west lies Centretownmarker (often just called "downtown"), which is the city's financial and commercial hub. Situated between Centretown and the Ottawa River, the slight elevation of Parliament Hillmarker is home to many of the capital's landmark government buildings, including the Peace Tower, and the Legislative seat of Canada. As of June 29, 2007, the Rideau Canal, which stretches to Kingston, Fort Henry and four Martello towers in the Kingston area was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The City of Ottawa has a main urban area but there are many other urban, suburban and rural areas within the city's limits. The main suburban area extends a considerable distance to the east, west and south of the centre, and includes the former cities of Gloucestermarker, Nepean and Vaniermarker, the former village of Rockcliffe Parkmarker and also the community of Blackburn Hamletmarker (pop. 8,527), the community of Orléansmarker (pop. 110,000). The Kanatamarker suburban area consists of Kanatamarker (pop. 90,000) and the former village of Stittsville (pop. 20,000). Nepean is another major suburb which also includes Barrhavenmarker (pop. 70,000) and the former village of Manotick (pop. 7,545). There are also the communities of Riverside South (pop. 8,000) on the other side of the Rideau River, Morgan's Grant (pop. 8,000) and Greely (pop. 4,152), southeast of Riverside South. There are also a number of rural communities (villages and hamlets) that lie beyond the greenbelt but are administratively part of the Ottawa municipality. Some of these communities are Burritts Rapidsmarker (hamlet, pop. 300); Ashtonmarker (hamlet, pop. 300); Fallowfieldmarker (hamlet, pop. 600); Kars (village, pop. 1,539); Fitzroy Harbour (village, pop. 1,549); Munstermarker (village, pop. 1,390); Carpmarker (village, pop. 1,400); North Gowermarker (village, pop. 1,700); Metcalfemarker (village, pop. 1,810); Constance Baymarker (village, pop. 2,327) and Osgoode (village, pop. 2,571) and Richmondmarker (village, pop. 3,301). There are also a number of towns in the national capital regionmarker but outside the city of Ottawa, one of these urban communities is Almonte, Ontariomarker (town, pop. 4,649).

Across the Ottawa River, which forms the border between Ontario and Quebecmarker, lies the city of Gatineaumarker. Although formally and administratively separate cities in two separate provinces, Ottawa and Gatineau (along with a number of nearby municipalities) collectively constitute the National Capital Regionmarker, with a combined population exceeding one million residents, which is considered a single metropolitan area. One federal crown corporation (the National Capital Commission, or NCC) has significant land holdings in both cities, including sites of historical and touristic importance. The NCC, through its responsibility for planning and development of these lands, is an important contributor to both cities.

Around the main urban area is an extensive greenbelt, administered by the National Capital Commission for conservation and leisure, and comprising mostly forest, farmland and marshland.

Ottawa itself is a single-tiered city, meaning it is in itself a census division and has no county or regional municipality government above it. Ottawa is bounded on the east by the United Counties of Prescott and Russell; by Renfrew Countymarker and Lanark County in the west; on the south by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville and the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry; and on the north by the Regional County Municipality of Les Collines-de-l'Outaouaismarker and the City of Gatineaumarker.

Ottawa is made up of eleven historic townships, ten of which are from historic Carleton Countymarker and one from historic Russellmarker. They are Cumberlandmarker, Fitzroy, Gloucester, Goulbourn, Huntley, March, Marlborough, Nepean, North Gower, Osgoode and Torbolton.


Ottawa has a humid continental climate (Koppen Dfb) with a range of temperatures from a record high of 37.8 °C (100°F), recorded July 4, 1913, to a record low of -38.9 °C (-38 °F) recorded on December 29, 1933 [3602], the fourth coldest temperature recorded in a capital city (after Ulaanbaatarmarker, Mongoliamarker; Astanamarker, Kazakhstanmarker and Moscowmarker, Russiamarker). This extreme range in temperature allows Ottawa to boast a variety of annual activities—more notable events such as the Winterlude Festival on the Rideau Canalmarker in the winter and the National Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hillmarker in July—and the requirement of a wide range of clothing. Because of its relatively warm summers, Ottawa is the second coldest capital in the world by annual average temperature, however by mean January temperature, Ottawa ranks second behind Ulaanbaatarmarker, Mongoliamarker and has a colder average January temperature than Moscow, which is much further north than Ottawa.

Snow and ice are dominant during the winter season. Ottawa receives about 235 centimetres (93 in) of snowfall annually. Its biggest snowfall was recorded on March 3-4, 1947 with 73 cm (2.5 feet) of snow. Average January temperature is -10.8 °C (13 °F), although days well above freezing and nights below -30 °C (-22 °F) both occur in the winter. The snow season is quite variable; in an average winter, a lasting snow cover is on the ground from mid-December until early April, although some years are snow-free until beyond Christmas, particularly in recent years. The 2007–08 winter season snowfall (432.7 cm / 170.3 inches) came within 10 cm (4 inches) of the record snowfall set in 1970-1971 (444.1 cm / 174.8 inches). High wind chills are common, with annual averages of 51, 14 and 1 days with wind chills below -20 °C (-4 °F), -30 °C (-22 °F) and -40 °C (-40 °F) respectively. The lowest recorded wind chill was of -47.8 °C (-54.0 °F) on January 8, 1968.

Freezing rain is also relatively common, even relative to other parts of the country. One such large storm caused power outages and affected the local economy, and came to be known as the 1998 Ice Storm.

Summers are fairly warm and humid in Ottawa, although they are moderate in length. The average July maximum temperature is 26 °C (80 °F), with occasional northerly incursions of comfortable, cool air which drop humidity levels, although daytime temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F) or higher are commonplace in most summers.A maximum temperature of 39.5 °C (103 °F) was recorded in the summer of 2005 at certain locations. During periods of hot weather, high humidity is often an aggravating factor, especially close to the rivers. Ottawa annually averages 41, 12 and 2 days with humidex (combined temperature & humidity index) above 30 °C (86 °F), 35 °C (95 °F) and 40 °C (104 °F) respectively. The highest recorded humidex was 48 °C (118 °F) on August 1, 2006.

The Rideau Canal in summer.
Spring and fall are variable, prone to extremes in temperature and unpredictable swings in conditions. Hot days above 30 °C (86 °F) have occurred as early as March (as in 2002) or as late as October, as well as snow well into May and early in October (although such events are extremely unusual and brief). Average annual precipitation averages around 943 millimetres (37 in.). The biggest one-day rainfall occurred on September 9, 2004 when the remnants of Hurricane Frances dumped nearly 136 mm (5½ inches) of rain in the city. The all-time monthly record is 243.4 mm (13.75 inches) set in July 2009. There are about 2,060 hours of average sunshine annually (47% of possible).

Destructive summer weather events such as tornadoes, major flash floods, extreme heat waves, severe hail and remnant effects from hurricanes are rare, but all have occurred in the Ottawa area. Some of the most notable tornadoes in the region occurred in 1978 (F2), 1994 (F3), 1999 (F1), 2002 marker, 2004 marker and west end Ottawa 2009 (F0) .

On February 24, 2006, an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter Scale struck Ottawa. On January 1, 2000, an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter Scale struck Ottawa. On average, a small tremor occurs in Ottawa every three years.


Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

Inter-city services

Ottawa is served by inter-city passenger rail service by VIA Rail, a number of airlines that fly into the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airportmarker, and inter-city bus companies such as Greyhound Canada operating out of the Ottawa Bus Central Stationmarker.

Highways, streets and roads

The capital city of Canada is also served by a network of freeways, the main one being provincial Highway 417 (called The Queensway), Ottawa-Carleton Regional Road 174 (formerly Provincial Highway 17), and Highway 416 , connecting Ottawa to the rest of the 400-Series Highway network in Ontario. Highway 417 is also the Ottawa portion of the Trans-Canada Highway. The city also has several scenic parkways (promenades), such as the Ottawa River Parkway, Rockcliffe Parkway and the Aviation Parkway and has a freeway connection to Autoroute 5 and Autoroute 50, in Hull. For a complete listing of the parkways and roads in Ottawa, see the List of Ottawa roads.

Public transit

The public transit system is operated by OC Transpo, a department of the city. An integrated system of services is available consisting of: (1) regular buses travelling on fixed routes in mixed traffic, typical of most urban transit systems; (2) a bus rapid transit (BRT) system - a high frequency bus service operating on the transitway - a network of mostly grade-separated dedicated bus lanes within their own right-of-way and having full stations with Park & Ride facilities further supported by on-road reserved bus lanes and priority traffic signal controls; (3) a light rail transit (LRT) system known as the O-Train operating on one north-south route; and (4) a door-to-door bus service for the disabled known as ParaTranspo.Both OC Transpo and the Quebec-based Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) operate bus services between Ottawa and Gatineau. A transfer or bus pass of one is accepted on the other without having to pay a top-up fare on regular routes.

Navigable waterways

Ottawa sits at the confluence of three major rivers: the Ottawa River, the Gatineau Rivermarker and the Rideau River. The Ottawa and Gatineau rivers were historically important in the logging and lumber industries, and the Rideau as part of the Rideau Canal system connecting the Great Lakesmarker and Saint Lawrence Rivermarker with the Ottawa River.

The Rideau Canalmarker, which starts in Kingston, Ontariomarker, winds its way through the city. The final flight of locks on the canal are between Parliament Hillmarker and the Château Lauriermarker. Also, during the winter season the canal is usually open and is a form of transportation downtown for about 7.8 kilometres (4.8 mi) for ice skaters (from a point near Carleton Universitymarker to the Rideau Centremarker) and forms the world's largest skating rink.

Bicycle and pedestrian pathways

There is a large network of paved multi-use pathways that wind their way through much of the city, including along the Ottawa River, Rideau River, and Rideau Canal. These pathways are used for transportation, tourism, and recreation. Because most streets either have wide curb lanes or bicycle lanes, cycling is a popular mode of transportation in the region throughout the year.

Transportation Master Plan

The city's summarizes expansion and improvement plans for:
  • and

Landmarks and notable institutions

Ottawa is home to a wealth of national museums, official residences, government buildings, memorials and heritage structures. Federal buildings in the National Capital Region are managed by the Public Works Canada, while most of the federal lands in the Region are managed by the National Capital Commission or NCC; its control of much undeveloped land gives the NCC a great deal of influence over the city's development.

In 2006, the National Capital Commission completed work on the long-discussed Confederation Boulevard, a ceremonial route linking key attractions in National Capital Region, on both sides of the Ottawa River, in Ottawa as well as Gatineaumarker, Quebecmarker.

The Ottawa skyline has remained conservative in skyscraper height throughout the years due to a skyscraper height restriction. First installed to keep Parliament Hillmarker visible from most parts of the City, that initial restriction was changed to a more realistic law many years later. The restriction allows no building to overwhelm the skyline, keeping almost all the downtown building around the same 25-30 story range. Other cities with building height restrictions like Ottawa's include Washington, D.C.marker, Belfastmarker, Northern Irelandmarker, Saint Petersburgmarker, Russiamarker, amongst others.

Panoramic view of Ottawa

Below is a map of the National Capital Region showing the prominent buildings and structures. Click on the stars to read articles on the individual buildings.

Primary industries

Ottawa's primary employers are the Canadian federal government and the hi-tech industry. Ottawa has become known as "Silicon Valley North."


Ottawa is home to both the National Hockey League's Ottawa Senators who play out of Scotiabank Placemarker located in the westend suburban community of Kanatamarker, and the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67's who play out of Lansdowne Park'smarker Civic Centremarker. The city also has a professional women's hockey team, the Ottawa Senators . Ottawa recently hosted the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships and hosts the annual Bell Capital Cup tournament.

Ottawa was home to a minor league professional baseball team, the Ottawa Voyageurs of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball which plays at the Ottawa Baseball Stadiummarker. The Voyageurs were formerly known as the Ottawa Rapidz. The Voyageurs/Rapidz folded after only one year. Ottawa was also home to a AAA minor league baseball team, the Ottawa Lynx of the International League. The team was sold in 2006 and the Lynx left Ottawa following the 2007 season, moving to Allentown, Pennsylvaniamarker.

Ottawa's two major universities, Carleton Universitymarker and the University of Ottawamarker both have athletic associations; the team names are the Carleton Ravens and the Ottawa Gee-Gees respectively. The Ravens are nationally-ranked in basketball. The Gee-Gees are nationally-ranked in football.

Ottawa had a significant presence in the Canadian Football League with the Ottawa Rough Riders football team and an attempted revival with the Ottawa Renegades (established 2002 - suspended operations in 2006, due to financial difficulties and poor fan attendance). Football was played at Frank Clair Stadiummarker. On March 25, 2008, CFL commissionner Mark Cohon awarded a conditional franchise to a group led by 67s owner Jeff Hunt. Ottawa is also home to a semi-professional football team in the Empire Football League, the Ottawa Demon Deacons and 3 Major Junior Football teams in the QJFL and CJFL, the Ottawa Junior Riders, Ottawa Sooners and the Cumberland Panthers.

Ottawa's top association football team is the Ottawa Fury who play in the women's W-League and the men's USL Premier Development League. Harness and Horse racing can be found at Rideau Carleton Racewaymarker off Albion Road and auto racing can be found at the Capital City Speedwaymarker off Highway 7. The Rideau Canoe Club, located at Hog's Back Park on the Rideau River, produces and supports many national- and international-level paddlers.

The city also supports many casual sporting activities, such as skating on the Rideau Canalmarker or curling in winter, cycling and jogging along the Ottawa River, Rideau Canal, and Rideau River in summer, playing Ultimate all year round (especially through the O.C.U.A.), skiing and hiking in the Greenbelt and the nearby Gatineau Park, and sailing on Lac Deschenes, part of the Ottawa River or golfing on many of the golf courses in the Ottawa area. During the coldest parts of winter there is ice fishing on the Ottawa river. Ottawa has many cricket clubs for people of all ages. Eastern Ontario's top rugby players are members of the Ottawa Harlequins which competes each summer in the Rugby Canada Super League.



The Elgin Street facade of the Heritage Building section of Ottawa City Hall.
Ottawa is governed by a 24-member city council consisting of 23 councillors each representing one ward and the mayor, currently Larry O'Brien, elected in a citywide vote. As a single tier municipality, Ottawa has responsibility for all municipal services, including fire, ambulance, police, parks, roads, sidewalks, public transit, drinking water, stormwater, sanitary sewage and solid waste.

In addition to being the capital of Canada, Ottawa is politically diverse with regard to local politics. Most of the city traditionally supports the Liberal Party, although only some parts of the city are consistent Liberal strongholds. Perhaps the safest areas for the Liberals are the ones dominated by francophones, especially in Vaniermarker and central Gloucestermarker. Central Ottawa is usually more left-leaning, and the New Democratic Party can win ridings there as government unions and activist groups are fairly strong. Some of Ottawa's suburbs are swing areas, notably central Nepean and, despite its Francophone population, Orléansmarker. The southern and western parts of the old city of Ottawa are generally moderate or slightly left of centre but periodically swing to the Conservative Party. The farther one goes from the city centre into suburban fringes like Kanatamarker and Barrhavenmarker and rural areas, the voters tend to be increasingly conservative, both fiscally and socially. This is especially true in the former Townships of West Carleton, Goulbourn, Rideau and Osgoode, which are more in line with the staunchly conservative areas in the surrounding counties. However not all rural areas support the Conservative Party. Rural parts of the former township of Cumberlandmarker, with a large number of Francophones, traditionally support the Liberal Party, though their support has recently weakened.

Ottawa became the legislative capital of the Northwest Territories when it reverted to 1870 constitutional status, after Albertamarker, and Saskatchewanmarker were carved out in 1905. From 1905 to 1951 almost all of the council members were civil servants living in Ottawa. From 1951 to 1967 the territory alternated legislative sessions with various Northwest Territories communities. Ottawa only held legislative sessions of the council. Fort Smith, Northwest Territoriesmarker became the administrative centre and officially housed the civil service from 1911 to 1967.


Ethnic Origin Population Percent
Canadianmarker 227,490 28.4%
English 194,845 24.3%
Irish 180,525 22.5%
French 172,165 21.5%
Scottish 158,340 19.8%
German 67,660 8.4%
Italian 39,230 4.9%
Chinese 34,435 4.3%
Polish 25,685 3.2%
Dutch 22,700 2.8%
North American Indian 21,600 2.7%
East Indian 20,525 2.6%
Lebanese 17,500 2.1%
African 16,000 2.0%

Map of Ottawa showing the francophone concentrations
In 2006 the population of the city of Ottawa was 812,129 , while the population of the Census Metropolitan Area was 1,130,761 . The population of the pre-amalgamated city was 337,031 at the 2001 census, and had fallen to 328,105 at the 2006 Census. The census of May 2006 estimates 1,148,800 people living in the greater Ottawa (Ottawa-Gatineaumarker) area. In 2001 females made up 51.23 percent of the population. Youths under 14 years of age number 19.30 percent of the total population, while those of retirement age (65 years and older) make up 10.81 percent resulting in an average age of 36.6 years of age.

Foreign born residents in Ottawa made up 22.3 percent of the population in which many come from Chinamarker, Lebanonmarker, northeast Africa, Iranmarker, and The Balkans [3603]. Members of visible minority groups (non-white/European) constituted 20.2 percent, while those of Aboriginal origin numbered 1.5 percent of the total population. The largest visible minority groups consisted are: Black Canadians: 4.9%, Chinese Canadian: 3.8%, South Asian: 3.3%, and Arab: 3.0%, as well as smaller mixed race, and other East Asian groups. Because Ottawa is the core of an urban area extending into French-speaking Quebecmarker, the city is very bilingual. Those who indentified their mother tongue as English constitute 62.6 percent, French 14.9 percent, and both 0.85 percent. An additional 21.6 percent list languages other than English and French as their mother tongue. These include Italian, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, German, Persian and many others. In terms of respondents' knowledge of one or both official languages, the numbers are English only at 59.9 percent, English and French at 37.2 percent, French only at 1.6 percent, and neither official language at 1.3 percent.

As expressed in 2001 census, the most popular religion is Christianity as 79.34 percent of the population described themselves belonging to various Christian denominations, the most popular being Roman Catholicism: 54.16%, Protestantism: 21.85%, Christian Orthodox: 1.68%, while the remaining 1.64% consists of independent Christian churches like Jehovah's Witness, LDS etc. Non-Christian religions are also very well established in Ottawa, the largest being Islam: 3.97%, Judaism: 1.09%, and Buddhism: 0.95%. Those professing no religion number about 13.29 percent.


Ottawa has the highest per capita concentration of engineers, scientists, and residents with PhDs in Canada. It has been known as the "most educated city in Canada" with over half the population having graduated from College and/or university.

Items of interest

Ottawa diplomatic missions and relations

Sister cities of Ottawa

See also



  2. John H. Taylor, Ottawa, An Illustrated History, James Lorimer & Company, Publishers, Canadian Museum of Civilization, National Museums of Canada, Toronto, 1986, p.11.
  4. David Lee, Lumber Kings & Shantymen, James Lorimer & Company, Publishers, Toronto, 2006, p.16.
  5. David Lee, Lumber Kings & Shantymen, James Lorimer & Company, Publishers, Toronto, 2006, p.21.
  6. David Lee, Lumber Kings & Shantymen, James Lorimer & Company, Publishers, Toronto, 2006, p.34.
  7. Soviet Spy Scandal, from CBC's "Canada: A People's History". Accessed December 22, 2008.


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