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History of Ottawa

Ottawa is located in the southeastern part of the Province of Ontario. It sits on the south bank of the Ottawa River, and is right across the city of Gatineau, Quebec.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Queen Victoria of England declared the city of Ottawa as the capital of the United Province of Canada.

But centuries before that, it is believed that the Algonquins, who are known to be the first inhabitants of North America, were also the first to settle in what is now the capital of Canada.


The Algonquins are believed to have settled along the Ottawa River Valley. Their tribe were traders called Ottawa (Outaouais), and the name of the Canadian capital is assumed to have been derived from the Algonquin word that is defined as “to trade”. It is believed, however, that the Algonquins only stayed for a very short period of time in the territory.

To get to Ottawa, the Algonquins had to portage through the waters of the Rideau River and the Ottawa River.


Years later, French explorer Étienne Brûlé needed to do the same to get to the territory’s inland. In 1610, he became the first European to see Chaudière Falls.

But it was not until the 1800s when Ottawa had its first permanent settlers.

Shortly after Gatineau was founded near the falls, the city now known as Ottawa was founded as Bytown in 1826, during the construction of the Rideau Canal. Lieut. Col. John By of the English Royal Engineers was in charge of the construction– which was a plan conceived by the British after realizing that the St. Lawrence River was vulnerable to attacks during the war of 1812. The Rideau Canal was constructed as an alternative route for both shipping and transportation for the British Royal Army.

Bytown, which was named after the British colonel, later on became successful in its timber and lumber trade, its economy steadily grew until it was turned into a city in 1854. It was also then that the city was renamed Ottawa.

Following rising political upheaval in what was then the Province of Canada, the Queen of England declared the city of Ottawa as the province’s capital.

After Canada’s sovereign government within the British Commonwealth was declared a decade later, Ottawa remained its capital.

Today, over a hundred years after The city was first established, Ottawa has become one of the world’s most well-known and progressive cities, and has retained its right as the Canadian capital.

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