Surprise Destination: Ottawa

Rideau Canal in Ottawa

If you tell people your next vacation stop is Ottawa, they make look at you with some surprise. It is only because they don’t know what is there. The city is actually a big draw for tourists. Whether you enjoy outdoor activities, scenic vistas, walks on the beach, historical tours, or Indian culture, it is all there in one place. There is more than meets the eye to this capital city of Canada, and the third largest in the country. It offers everything from the regional and the quaint to the sophistication of an urban environment. There may be some aspects of the city you don’t know.

Mixed Culture

Some of the less well-known aspects of Ottawa include its unique history starting with the tribe that arrived on the shores of Lake Huron as far back as 1400 after which the city is named (originally called Bytown). Other tribes like the Iroquois causes relocation of some members (some of whom returned) and an infusion of a different culture into the region—the Europeans of the fur trade. The French heritage enriched the native origins. Now it is a multi-cultural city with a diverse population. At a point midway between Toronto and Quebec City, it is the ideal location for the country’s capital.

Political and Technological Center of Canada

Once a town of sawmills and a thriving lumber industry, Ottawa is now the political and technological center of Canada. The downtown area houses the Parliament and the Supreme Court of Canada. Many buildings are done in the Gothic revival style such as the noted Peace Tower. It is a metropolitan area that incorporates Gatineau, home to national and international business. While politically diverse, the city has been known to favor the Liberal Party while certain regions generally vote Conservative or New Democratic.

Boasting the third highest income of Canadian cities, Ottawa attracts entrepreneurs to what is called “the Silicon Valley of the north.” Telecommunications, software development, and environmental technology dominate with companies like Hewlett Packard, Bell Canada, 3M, and Adobe Systems. Furthermore, the government is a major employer of the citizenry. All in all, it makes for great opportunities and an appealing and affluent life style.

Tourist Mecca

Tourism is big business in Ottawa. It is no surprise considering the wealth of attractions and historic sites such as Parliament Hills, Victoria Island, and Rideau Canal, the oldest continuously operating canal in North America. There is a wealth of festivals such as Winterlude and Canada Day held on Parliament Hill in addition to sites such as Confederation Square, the Château Laurier, and the Central Experimental Farm.

Sports lovers have plenty to do what with all the parks, beaches, hiking and cycling trails. Art lovers can gravitate indoors to the art galleries and museums such as the superb National Gallery of Canada. Foodies have more than they can digest with anything from world-class restaurants to local ethnic eateries.

In sum, Ottawa is a great destination for families, business people, and world travelers. Children love Calypso Waterpark loaded with slides and pools, while adults flock to the Casino du Lac-Leamy and its fine dining venue Le Baccara. Once visited, it will surprise no more and became a staple on your list of to which places to return.