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Facts about Ottawa for Kids


Ottawa stands on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario. Ottawa borders Gatineau, Quebec; the two form the core of the Ottawa–Gatineau census metropolitan area (CMA) and the National Capital Region (NCR). Its original boundaries were expanded through numerous minor annexations and were ultimately replaced by a new city incorporation and major amalgamation in 2001 which significantly increased its land area.

  • The city name “Ottawa” was chosen in reference to the Ottawa River nearby, which is a word derived from the Algonquin word Odawa, meaning “to trade”.
  • Wright pioneered the Ottawa Valley timber trade (soon to be the area’s most significant economic activity) by transporting timber by river from the Ottawa Valley to Quebec City.
  • Bytown, Ottawa’s original name, was founded as a community in 1826 when hundreds of land speculators were attracted to the south side of the river when news spread that British authorities were immediately constructing the northerly end of the Rideau Canal military project at that location.
  • The military purpose of the canal was to provide a secure route between Montreal and Kingston on Lake Ontario, bypassing the stretch of the St. Lawrence River bordering the state of New York that had left the British forces easily exposed to American enemy fire during the War of 1812.
  • Similar to its Upper Canada and Lower Canada namesakes, historically ‘Upper Town’ was predominantly English speaking and Protestant whereas ‘Lower Town’ was predominantly French, Irish and Catholic.
  • Additionally, despite Ottawa’s regional isolation it had seasonal water transportation access to Montreal over the Ottawa River and to Kingston via the Rideau Waterway.
  • French architect-planner Jacques Greber was hired by then Prime Minister Mackenzie King to design an urban plan for managing development in the National Capital Region to make it more aesthetically pleasing and thus more befitting a location that was the political centre of Canada.
  • In 2001, Ottawa City Hall moved back downtown to a relatively new building (1990) on 110 Laurier Avenue West that had been the home of the now defunct Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.
  • In December 2012, City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the Confederation Line, a 12.5 km light rail transit line, to be fully operational by 2018.
  • Ottawa is situated on the south bank of the Ottawa River and contains the mouths of the Rideau River and Rideau Canal.
  • 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 Region, which is considered a single metropolitan area.