Discovering Ottawa’s Rich History: Museums, Heritage Sites, and Landmarks


Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, is not only known for its stunning natural beauty but also for its rich history and cultural heritage. From museums showcasing the nation’s history to iconic landmarks symbolizing its identity, Ottawa offers a plethora of opportunities for visitors and locals alike to delve into its past. Let’s explore some of the must-visit museums, heritage sites, and landmarks that reflect Ottawa’s fascinating history.

National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery of Canada stands as a testament to Canada’s artistic heritage, housing an extensive collection of Canadian and international art spanning centuries. Visitors can admire works by renowned Canadian artists like the Group of Seven as well as masterpieces by European painters. The striking architecture of the gallery itself is a sight to behold, with its iconic glass facade overlooking the scenic Ottawa River.

Canadian Museum of History

Located just across the river in Gatineau, Quebec, the Canadian Museum of History offers a captivating journey through Canada’s past. From indigenous artifacts to exhibits exploring Canada’s colonial history and cultural diversity, the museum provides insight into the nation’s evolving identity. Don’t miss the impressive Grand Hall, featuring the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles.

Parliament Hill

No visit to Ottawa is complete without a stop at Parliament Hill, the iconic seat of Canada’s federal government. Guided tours offer visitors the chance to explore the historic Centre Block, home to the House of Commons and the Senate, while learning about Canada’s parliamentary system and political history. Be sure to catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony during the summer months, a tradition dating back to the 19th century.

Bytown Museum

Located at the entrance of the Rideau Canal, the Bytown Museum provides a glimpse into Ottawa’s early days as a rough-and-tumble lumber town known as Bytown. Housed in the city’s oldest stone building, the museum’s exhibits delve into the lives of early settlers, the construction of the Rideau Canal, and the role of the canal in shaping Ottawa’s growth and development.

Rideau Canal

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal is not only a picturesque waterway but also a living monument to Canada’s engineering prowess and military history. Built in the early 19th century as a strategic military route, the canal now serves as a scenic waterway for pleasure boating and ice skating in the winter months. Stroll along its banks or take a leisurely boat cruise to appreciate its beauty and significance.