Ottawa, the capital of Canada and the 4th largest city in the country, is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern region of Southern Ontario, and contains the mouths of the Rideau River and Rideau Canal. This city is not densely populated, with only a population of about 890,000 as of 2011.
As of June 29, 2007, the Rideau Canal, which stretches 202 km (126 mi) to Kingston, Fort Henry and four Martello towers in the Kingston area was recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, we merely passed by Rideau Canal while on the coach and only managed to take 1 miserable shot of this world heritage site… 😦
The canal was constructed as a preventive military measure by the British as during the War of 1812, the United States had intended to invade the British colony of Upper Canada via the St. Lawrence River. It remains in use today primarily for pleasure boating, with most of its original structures intact, operated by Parks Canada. The locks on the system open for navigation in mid-May and close in mid-October. It is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America.
Next on the tour itinerary was the Parliament Hill and Peace Tower. The Gothic revival suite of buildings on the Parliament Hill serves as the home of the Parliament of Canada and contains a number of architectural elements of national symbolic importance including the Peace Tower. Since 2002, an extensive $1 billion renovation and rehabilitation work has been going on for the precinct and the expected completion date will be after 2020!
We proceeded to Confederation Square after this, an urban square in Ottawa, considered as the second most important ceremonial centre in Canada’s capital city, after Parliament Hill. The Square was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1984.
Finally we were brought to Sparks Street, the earliest outdoor pedestrian street in Canada when it was converted in 1966. Before its conversion to an outdoor pedestrian street, it was home to a number of parliamentary offices and homes for parliamentarians. Now the pedestrian mall and sidewalk cafes fill the Elgin Street to Bronson Avenue.
It was a Saturday when we visited Ottawa, but Sparks Street was not crowded at all. Maybe because the population is too little for a big city like Ottawa? Hehe nothing much to see or shop at the shops here too, quite a boring and quiet place I must say! 😛
Having visited both the US and Canada capitals, I must say Washington D.C. gave us a solemn feeling, while Ottawa made us feel at peace. Such contrasting feelings although both are capital cities of developed countries!