5 Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Ottawa

by Alexander Griffin
5 Cool Things You Didn't Know About Ottawa

Just how much do you know about the capital of Canada? Located in Ontario, Ottawa has some of the most interesting history of all cities in Canada. Full of culture, art, good cuisine, and gorgeous nature, Ottawa is the perfect destination for any traveler, and a place many are proud to call home. Whether you’re a local or not, here are some facts you may not know about Ottawa.

A City of Two Names

Once upon a time, Ottawa was known as “Bytown,” named after John By, who helped construct the Rideau Canal that connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River. While Bytown continues to be a nickname for the area, it officially became “Ottawa” in 1855 when it officially became a city.

At this time in history, Ottawa was vying for the title of “capital of Canada,” up against other cities such as Toronto and Montréal. Many felt the name change would help their chances, as it is named after the Algonquin word adawe. Adawe means “to trade,” representing how important Ottawa and its waterways were to the country. In 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the capital of Canada, and the rest is history.

One of the Coldest Capitals

Ottawa gets to enjoy all four seasons, with temperatures ranging from 33C to -25C. While the winters can be quite brutal, Ottawa at least gets to enjoy the distinction of being the 7th coldest capital city in all the world. While the frigid winters might be difficult to endure, it only makes the summer months that much more enjoyable. If you’re a fan of winter weather (and winter sports!), Ottawa is the perfect spot for you.

Largest Ice Skating Rink

Ottawa is home to the largest natural ice skating rink—The Rideau Canal Skateway. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this natural attraction is “7.8 km (4.8 miles) long and has a total maintained surface area of 165, 621 m² (1.782 million ft²), which is equivalent to 90 Olympic size skating rinks.”

While there are other larger bodies of water that freeze over into skatable “rinks,” what makes the Skateway different is that it is consistently maintained to ensure safety for all who use it. The ice is swept each day, and the area features recreational facilities for the comfort of visitors. 

Bicycle Friendly

In 2013, Ottawa became the first city in Ontario to become a gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the Share the Road Cycling Coalition. Share the Road is an organization in Ontario that vows to make areas more bike-friendly through their advocacy work. If you’re an avid bike rider and looking for Ottawa homes for sale or apartments for rent, you’ll be happy to find that getting around town by bike is easy, and you get to enjoy the natural beauty of the city while you’re out. With plenty of trees, nature areas, and riverbanks to explore, you’ll never run out of gorgeous places to head out for a ride.

Parlez-vous Français?

Just about half the residents in the Ottawa area speak both French and English. In fact, it’s part of what’s called the “Bilingual Belt,” which also includes Montréal and the surrounding areas. Whether English or French is your native language, you’ll find yourself at home in Ottawa.

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