Ottawa is Canada's capital and is one of the coldest capital cities in the world!
It was a surprise when the little lumber town of Ottawa became capital of the British Colonial Province of Canada in 1857. Many thought one of the older and larger communities of Quebec, Montreal, Kingston or Toronto would be the one, but Ottawa had the advantage. It was on the border of Canada East and Canada West, with no strong allegiance to either, and was a safe distance from the sometimes unfriendly American border. It had outstanding natural beauty and sat on the banks of the Ottawa River.
Ottawa is neo-Gothic in style and spirit, which makes it very attractive but one of the coldest capital cities anywhere, with an average temperature in January of minus 10.7ºC.
The city sits high above the meeting place of the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau rivers, with a northern backdrop of the gently rolling Gatineau Hills. It is surrounded by 17,000 hectares of farmland and exudes romance all year round.
The Rideau Canal, which slices through the city, was built from 1826 to 1832 to avoid using the St Lawrence River, which was vulnerable to possible American attack. The canal was used to take troops and supplies to Canada's interior. Today it is not only the city's pride and joy, but an enormous asset for locals and visitors to enjoy. The 202-kilometre engineering feat follows the natural course of the Rideau River to its summit on Upper Rideau Lake, which in turn is connected to Newboro Lake and then descends the Cataraqui River to Kingston.
In springtime, the banks of the canal are a mass of daffodils and tulips, colourfully announcing the end of winter. Summer sees people wandering along, cycling its paths or canoeing and boating, until deciding to stop at a canal-side beer garden, restaurant or maybe the National Arts Centre.
Autumn turns the countryside into a mass of fire and purple as trees prepare to shed their leaves. As temperatures drop, winter sees the canal take on another life. It becomes a skating rink, used by commuters as well as those just having fun, joggers and families on blades or sleighs.
Frenchman Jacques Greber had green in mind when he planned Canada's capital city. He included 170kms of recreational paths and parks in his design. Gatineau Park, just three kilometres from the city centre, epitomises this thinking. It was inaugurated in 1938 in a Federal Government effort to stop forest destruction. That early decision has resulted in a safe haven for 100 species of birds, black bear, timber wolf, otter, marten, raccoon, white-tailed deer, beaver, lynx and wolverine. It has lakes, hiking trails and swimming beaches. Summer hiking trails become cross-country ski trails in winter and there are plenty of canoe camping sites.
One of Ottawa's grandest buildings is the Fairmont Château Laurier on Rideau Street. The 429-room granite and sandstone hotel is a replica of a Loire château and has attracted royalty and celebrities since is opening in 1912. The rooms are spacious, with high ceilings and original mouldings, decorated with Louis XV reproductions. Many enjoy views of the Ottawa River, Gatineau Hills and Parliament House.
Ottawa is home to the famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Cars have replaced horses for regular duties, but the tradition of fine horsemanship lives on. A troop of 32 riders and horses travels the world strutting their stuff. The stables are open to visitors year round.
Byward Markets began in the 1840s. This is Canada's oldest continuously-operating farmers' market. Its 350 stalls and stores open year round, with restaurants, boutiques, nightspots, fresh produce and the local taste sensation beaver tail. These tasty morsels are actually delicious deep-fried in wholewheat pastry, served with cinnamon, sugar and lemon or garlic butter and cheese.
If you are looking for nightlife, Elgin Street also has bars, clubs and restaurants.
Air Canada flies daily from Sydney to Vancouver (via Honolulu) with connections to all major Canadian cities. Connections are also available from most major Australian domestic cities.
Canada's capital in the province of Ontario.
Venture Holidays has packages including return flights to Toronto with Air Canada, three nights at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier and seven days' car hire, starting at $2533 per person, twin share from the east coast. Taxes are included and conditions apply.
Air Canada is currently having a seat sale ex- Sydney to most major Canadian cities. Fares are effective for sale immediately to October 5, 2002, for travel now until December 5, 2002 or from January 21 to March 31, 2003. Taxes and surcharges are around $200-$280. Conditions apply.
Return economy airfares are $1749 to Vancouver or Calgary and $1909 to Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto.
Call Air Canada or your local IATA or AFTA travel agent.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Fairmont Chateau Laurier
1 Rideau Street, Ottawa K1N 8S7
Ph: 0011 1 613 241 1414
Fax: 0011 1 613 562 firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada Travel Information
Ph:02 9954 3377
Fax: 02 9929 4543 www.canada.trav.net