Ottawa, Canada’s Ice Queen

Ottawa è la capitale del Canada per motivi principalmente amministrativi. Pur non essendo così popolare come Toronto o Montreal, ha un’offerta culturale molto varia.

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Ottawa Canada´s Ice Queen

Located in Ontario and bordering Quebec, Ottawa was founded in 1826 under the name Bytown. It was made Canada’s capital by the British Queen Victoria in 1857, a diplomatic and commercial choice as it is equidistant from the cities Toronto and Montreal. It was renamed after one of the three rivers on which the city stands; ‘Ottawa’ is derived from a First Nation word meaning ‘to trade’.


Today the city’s economy is built on two major sectors, high technology and the federal government. The latter’s centre is located on Parliament Hill, which features grand 19th century stone buildings that overlook the Ottawa River. From July to September, evening light and sound shows project colourful patterns onto their facades, and free guided tours are offered daily all year round. Stop off for a beautiful, if brief, bell tower concert; the Peace Tower Carillon, inaugurated in 1927, is an acoustic instrument comprised of fifty-three bells of different sizes that is played from a pedal keyboard.


Ottawa’s most famous attraction was originally built for military purposes. Founded in 1832, Rideau Canal is a 202 km long waterway that links the Ottawa River with Lake Ontario. It carried freight and passengers in steamboats for a century, but it is now only used for pleasure craft. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, in wintertime, the Canal is transformed into the world’s biggest naturally-frozen ice rink. Rent skates and see if you can make the five miles from downtown to Dows Lake, stopping at heated huts to buy hot drinks and snacks along the way. The Canal is the focal point for the Winterlude festival in February.


Winterlude is just one of a range of festivals to enjoy. The Crackup Comedy Festival in February / March and the Ottawa Jazz Festival in July are also very popular. The Canadian Tulip Festival in May is a major event that takes place in parks and gardens all over the city. Or sports fans can catch Ottawa’s professional ice hockey team the Ottawa Senators in action between October and April.


One of Canada’s oldest public markets, the ByWard market district is home to some 600 shops and restaurants. One of its classic products takes its name from a popular Canadian pastry company founded in 1978. BeaverTails pastry specialises in fried dough pastries that resemble beaver’s tails. Unlike real beaver tails, however, they are topped with whipped cream, banana slices, cookies, cinnamon sugar or chocolate hazelnut paste.


Of Ottawa’s many museums, the Canadian National Gallery is the most eye-catching. Housed in a 1980s glass and granite building some 1,200 works tell the story of Canada’s heritage. Another outstanding building in downtown Ottawa is the Château Laurier Hotel. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of Charles Melville Hays, the president of the company that built the hotel! Hays died on the Titanic in 1912, just twelve days before the hotel’s opening.

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