Discover Ottawa – A Capital City Like No Other

28 Dec 2020, 3:28 pm


min read

Ottawa, ON, Canada

Canada is an enormous country, stretching from coast to coast. Its ten beautiful provinces and two territories are filled with dozens of cities that have something unique to offer;

Whether it’s sweeping landscapes, rugged mountains, the calming sea, or the fast-paced city life. With so many options, it can be tough to decide where to call home.

Father and daughter walking in a park at Ottawa, ON, Canada
Park in Ottawa. courtesy of Chelsey Faucher

For people, especially families, who want to live in a city without the big city crowds, Ottawa is an excellent choice. One of the most unique aspects of Ottawa is its perfect blend of small-town feel with all the benefits, services, and convenience of a big city.

With a slightly slower paced life than the bigger and busier cities like Toronto or Montreal, it’s an especially wonderful place to raise a family in.

Brief History of Ottawa

Two centuries ago, in 1826, when the Rideau Canal was being built, the area now known as Ottawa, was nothing more than a campsite for the canal’s construction. Three decades later, the campsite was transformed into a bustling and prosperous town.

In 1855 the town was incorporated and officially called Ottawa. The name was derived from the Algonquin word adawe  which meant to trade. The First Nations people who controlled the trading along the Ottawa river were called adawe.

In 1857, Queen Victoria formally chose Ottawa to be the capital of Canada. What’s interesting about this is that Ottawa was not the first choice as Canada’s capital.

Building in Ottawa, ON, Canada
Ottawa architecture. courtesy of Chelesy Faucher

The city of Kingston which was the largest town in Upper Canada was the capital of Canada for two years (1841-1843). The capital was then shifted to Montreal from 1844 to 1849 before moving to Toronto from 1849 to 1852.

There was another shifting of the capital between Quebec City and Toronto before Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the permanent capital of Canada. It was the ideal city for a capital because of its close proximity to the larger and more populated cities of Toronto and Montreal and because it was further away from the American borders, which, kept it protected from any attacks.

This decision was cemented by the building of Parliament Hill, a majestic building and an international landmark overlooking the Ottawa River.

Nestled between the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau Rivers, Ottawa is truly one of the most beautiful capital cities around the world and a fantastic place to live.

Population in Ottawa

Ottawa is a fairly small city, with an estimated population of 1,303,086 and a population density of 317 people per square mile. Even though the majority of the population is predominantly white (74%), Ottawa is a very multicultural and ethnically diverse city with many different religions and cultures.

Education and Employment in Ottawa

Did you know Ottawa has the most educated population in Canada? Home to two fine institutions, the University of Ottawa and Carleton University hosts hundreds of international students every year as well as students from across Canada.

The University of Ottawa is known for its superb law and medicine programs while Carleton is renowned for its journalism and communications programs. It also has a program where eligible students can work in Parliament Hill or with a Member of Parliament.

If the university is not your thing, there are some fantastic colleges too, such as Algonquin College where a two-year specialization or program will make give you the skills you need to join the workforce.

Ottawa’s fairly robust economy is due to the federal government and technology.

As the capital of Canada, Ottawa is the hub of the Federal Government and at any given time of the day, downtown Ottawa is teeming with public servants. A chance encounter with past prime ministers is a real possibility!

courtesy of

For people with political aspirations or a desire to grow a career in the Public Service, Ottawa is a dream come true city, with approximately 20% of the city’s population working for the Federal Government.

With Gatineau, Quebec, located just across a bridge, many people even have the luxury of living in one province while working in another.

In recent years, Ottawa has also been expanding in the technology sector, with many companies choosing to shift their offices away from places like Toronto and Montreal. In 2019, Ottawa was home to more than 1,750 tech companies and growing!

Cost of Living

The average household income in Ottawa is approximately $86,000 while the cost of living for a family of four averages to about $4,200 a month (excluding rent or mortgage), which is much lower than cities like Toronto or Vancouver.

Homes are also much more affordable in Ottawa unlike Toronto or Vancouver where home price are skyrocketing.

Weather in Ottawa

The climate is fairly humid and like much of Canada has four distinct seasons. The summer months are warm and comfortable, while winters are icy, snowy, and chilly. Some parts of Ontario do see warmer weather during the winter, as do some provinces such as British Columbia, however, Ottawa more closely follows the weather in Montreal.

Attractions in Ottawa

Ottawa may be a small and quiet city, but it’s definitely not boring or bland! The city boasts some really unique attractions, landmarks and celebrations making it a huge draw for tourists everywhere year-round.

Rideau Canal:

Did you know, Ottawa has the longest skating rink in the world? The Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is 7.8 kilometers long and every year thousands of people lace up in their skates to explore the skate way. Beavertail and hot chocolate stands are scattered throughout making it the perfect winter activity. 

In the summer, the lush greenery stretching alongside the Rideau Canal make it a perfect spot for family picnics, yoga and meditation, study dates or just to enjoy a quiet evening watching the sunset.

Rideau Canal National Historic Site, Ottawa, Canada
courtesy of Matthew Fournier

Museums & Galleries:

For history buffs, the city is home to a wonderful selection of museums and galleries such as:

These are just a few of the museums that are found throughout Ottawa. Most museums have free admission days and hours, which is so great for people on a budget or for new immigrants who would love to immerse in the culture of Canada. 

Canadian Tulip Festival:

Tourists from all around the world and in other parts of Canada flock to Ottawa in early spring to feast their eyes on the breathtaking array of bright, colorful tulips planted near the festival’s main site, Commissioners Park and throughout the city. 

The tradition of the Tulip Festival

The tradition of the Tulip Festival dates back to the Second World War when the Dutch Royal family sought refuge in Ottawa, the Queen gave birth to her daughter, Princess Margriet in Ottawa in 1943. The Netherlends were eventually liberated thanks in great part to Canadian troops. As a thank you to Canada, the Dutch government sent tulip bulbs to Ottawa in 1945 and has continued the tradition ever since.

Food carts and tables set up by local crafters turns the tulip festival into a fun day of shopping, eating and strolling through displays of flowers.

Calypso Water Park:

Twenty to thirty minutes outside of Ottawa lies Canada’s biggest theme waterpark in Canada. Calypso! For water and amusement park lovers, Calypso is a veritable haven with dozens of water slides, water games and two theme rivers. May people opt to buy a season pass to enjoy the park all summer long.

Outside Ottawa:

If you drive just a little past Ottawa, you can enjoy lush countryside with farmer’s markets, quaint villages, and farms. For people looking for some more excitement or vibrant nightlife, Montreal is just a two hours drive.

Immigrating to Ottawa:

So now that you’ve decided Ottawa is probably the place you want to immigrate to, what are your options for getting here?

Ontario Provincial Nominee Program:  

The Ontario Provincial Nominee Program (OINP) is Ontario’s economic immigration program and it enables the province to nominate and invite eligible individuals to get their permanent residency in the province. How does it work?

The province partners with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and allows student, workers etc. from around the world to submit an application to be nominated by the OINP.

The program goes through these applications to see which candidates meet their current educational, technical and work requirements. Nominations are then sent out to these selected candidates with the Government of Canada making the final decision on who gets their permanent residency.

The OINP is a very efficient and fast-tracked way of immigrating to Canada for educated and skilled workers, if their wish is to settle in Ontario

Express Entry:

The Express Entry system was implemented in January 2015 to manage certain types of applications and is used by the OINP to find candidates.

Ontario has two streams under the Express Entry Program:
  • Ontario Express Entry: Human Capital Priorities
  • Ontario Express Entry: French-Speaking Skilled Worker

Through these two streams, Ontario can nominate eligible candidates with the right education, language and work experience, who are in IRCC’s Express Entry Pool. 

In July 2019, Ontario announced it would start doing tech-specific draws under the Human Capital Priorities stream. So if you have a tech background and the idea of living in Ottawa appeals to you, this could be a great route to follow!

Family Class Sponsorship:

Sponsoring remains one of the most popular and most used programs when it comes to immigrating to Canada. Whether you want to sponsor your spouse, dependent children or parents, and grandparents, Canada has a program for you.

Student Visa:

Many people, especially younger people, choose to come to Canada for their education. In this case, a student visa is the best way to begin the process of immigrating to Canada.

Canada has some fantastic programs for international students who have completed their education in the country and would like to get their permanent residency.

What Next?

If the idea of moving to Ottawa sounds like a dream come true, you’re not the only one! Every year, thousands of people choose the beautiful capital city of Canada as a place to settle down and grow their roots.

With its mix of city life and small-town vibe, its rich heritage, multiculturalism, and low cost of living, it’s a great city to raise a family in and maintain a very nice life.

If Ottawa is where you want to be and you want to know how you can make that happen, consider consulting a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC).

At Canada2036, we know how overwhelming the many immigration options can be, how trying it can be to navigate all the rules and regulations.

Moving to a different country is a big decision and requires an enormous amount of time and money. You may have a lot of questions and you may not know where to start, if that’s the case, feel free to reach out to an RCIC at any time for some advice and support.

We can help make your dreams come true:

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The child of immigrant parents, I came to Canada when I was just five years old. I used to volunteer at an immigration resource centre and now work for the Canadian Federal Government. Writing is my passion and I hope my words can provide some help to a new immigrant or someone considering a move to Canada.

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Editor’s Note

You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent immigration advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone. This content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser, unless otherwise noted below.

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