If there is any time I can suggest you visit Ottawa, Canada‘s Capital, I would recommend that it be on or around July 1st. Because then, you’ll get to experience Canada Day in Ottawa.
This time of year is great, since there is no snow, lots of things going on in the city and countless attractions and sites to see.
A little background on Canada’s capital
By the 1600s, French explorers started to arrive from Europe. The most famous of these European explorers are Etienne Brulé and Samuel de Champlain. They came to the Ottawa region seeking a route to reach Asia. Though no route to Asia was found, many European explorers, fur traders and settlers eventually followed over the course of Ottawa’s history, creating the place we know now.
Permanent European settlement came to Ottawa in 1826. Lieutenant-Colonel John By, RE, arrived in the Ottawa area to supervise the construction of the Rideau Canal, which was to connect a series of natural waterways between Kingston and the Ottawa River. This new waterway would form a useful, military supply route between Ottawa and Kingston in case of an attack from the United States.
July 1, 1867, Canada became a federation. Ottawa was confirmed as the country’s capital and the government convened on Parliament Hill. Parliament Hill is still the seat of government and is also a major landmark in the Ottawa cityscape.
Now that I’ve bored you with history, let me tell you what the Nations Capital is like on Canada Day.
Here is what you need to know about experiencing Canada Day in Ottawa
1. If you are staying downtown, excellent choice. You can walk everywhere or find yourself a rickshaw, taxi or bus if you don’t feel up to walking. If you aren’t staying downtown, that’s ok too, Ottawa has a great bus system and is fairly easy to follow. A few accommodation options in downtown Ottawa include: ARC The Hotel Downtown Boutique Ottawa (mid-range), Econo Lodge Downtown Ottawa (budget) and Homewood Suites by Hilton Ottawa Downtown (luxury).
2. Stick with these streets: Sparks Street, Elgin Street, Wellington Street, Rideau Street and the Byward Market. This is where you will find the parties, the street vendors, the entertainment, the drinks and the food. If you stay on these streets you will have the best chance of finding a bar or restaurant that suits your style and tastes as well as you will be able to see/hear the fireworks from these areas!
3. If you have young children, this area is not recommended for parents who are high strung or get easily stressed out. For that matter, if you don’t like big crowds, you will not be comfortable! But there are many low key festivities happening all over the city, so there is something for everyone as long as you are willing to leave the downtown core.
4. Enjoy the crowds! If you have travelled to many places and are expecting the hustle and bustle of say, Bangkok or even New York.. you will not find that here. Ottawa is what I like to call, the “big-little city” we have just over 800 000 people here, so on Canada day, there are a lot of people in Ottawa. Enjoy it, because the next day, it will be back to being it’s quiet self. Not to say Ottawa doesn’t have a nightlife, it does and it’s pretty good depending on your taste, but again, we don’t have 10 000 000 people in the city so it will never have that go go go sprit.
5. Come back for a visit! Make sure you come back to Ottawa! Even in the winter if you can brave the cold! Ottawa is a great place to sightsee, eat, and just enjoy the greenspace! The Rideau Canal is one of the major sights, and if you like skating, this is definately one you don’t want to miss in the winter!