Walking Tour of Ottawa, Ontario
Ottawa, Ontario is the capital of Canada. As such, it is the center of government, although this city formerly known as Bytown, surprised the world and all of Canada when it was chosen. It lies along the Ottawa River in eastern Ontario about 160 kilometers (100 mi) west of Montreal. The most impressive sights in the city are the Parliament Building and the Art Deco Supreme Court Building which lie along the river. There is even a ceremonial Changing of the Guard, daily, during the summer months at 10:00 A.M. The river itself gives the city a pleasant ambience. In the winter, there is skating on the Rideau Canal, while, in the summer, the canal is filled with boats and canoes. There are many world-class museums in the city and the Arts also flourish here.
My walk begins at the number-one attraction in the city, Parliament Hill, located along the Ottawa River, on Wellington Street. The Peace Tower, which rises over 300 feet above the central building in the complex, is the most prominent city landmark. Tours are free, but call for reservations. Be sure to find your way to the Observation Deck for great views of the city. Stroll around the grounds, as well, since there are numerous monuments and memorials which merit a look. There is even a Sound-and-Light Show here, on summer evenings.
When you leave Parliament Hill, walk west on Wellington St. But, first, stop briefly at the Capital Information Centre across the street, to pick up a map. When you reach Bank Street, you might consider a short detour, turning left on Bank Street and right on Sparks Street, to visit the Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada. Then, return to Wellington and continue west. You will pass the Supreme Court Building, mentioned above, on the right, and then the Library and Archives Canada Building, also on the right.
Opposite the Archives is the Garden of the Provinces, which displays flags and flowers of all the Canadian provinces. Now, walk south on Bay Street and turn left on Laurier Avenue. Just after the intersection with Elgin Street, look for the Ottawa City Hall, on your right, opposite the southern end of Confederation Park. Continue east to the Rideau Canal. Do not cross the Mackenzie-King Bridge, but, instead, walk down to the Rideau Canal Promenade, and then head northward, along the canal, through Confederation Park and beyond.
When you reach the next bridge, cross to the eastern side of the canal, on Wellington Street (it becomes Rideau Street on the other side). Turn left onto William Street to make a stop at the Byward Market, an interesting collection of food and other products. Leave the shopping area at its northern end, turning left on York Street, and then right on Sussex Drive, nicknamed the “Mile of History.”
The Peacekeeping Monument is ahead, on the right. A bit further along, you will find the beautiful Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, whose twin spires are another city landmark. After your visit, continue walking north to the next crosswalk and cross the street.
Now, reverse direction on Sussex Drive to see, first, the Canadian Royal Mint, which offers a guided tour illustrating the coin-making process. A short distance south of the mint is the National Gallery of Canada, a worthwhile art museum, housed in a spectacular, modern, edifice of glass and steel. Along the road is Major’s Hill Park, another of the city’s many islands of green.
Continue south into Mackenzie Avenue, to the Ottawa Locks, which join the Rideau Canal to the Ottawa River. Then, cross the canal on Rideau/Wellington Street to the National War Memorial, on Confederation Square. There is a Remembrance Day ceremony here, every November 11th. From here, cross Wellington Street to return to Parliament Hill, where the walking tour began.