Ottawa lies on the confluence of the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau rivers. The Canadian government has invested heavily in making Ottawa a fitting national capital and despite popular criticism that it is dull, the city is favoured for its small-town atmosphere, order and grace.
The site of present-day Ottawa was first recorded by French explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1613. During the 1812 war between Britain and the United States, the Rideau river provided the British with a safe shipping route from the Ottawa River to Kingston, thus encouraging settlement. In 1826 the arrival of Lieutenant Colonel John By with the Royal Engineers to canalise the river led to further growth, of what then became known as Bytown.
Quarrels between Canada’s other major cities in the mid-nineteenth century (Toronto, Quebec city, Montreal and Kingston) induced leaders to ask Queen Victoria to designate a capital for Canada. Inspired by some watercolours of the Gatineau Hills, Queen...