I was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada and as much as I yearn and lust for travel and exploration, there really is no place like home.
Having lived here all my life, Ottawa can sometimes seem quiet and boring compared to all the lively cities in the world, but I do count myself lucky for having grown up in such a great city.
To outsiders, Ottawa is just a blip on the map. When I'm travelling and people ask me where I'm from, they more often than not, have never heard of Ottawa. And when they're told that it's the capital of Canada, they're also more often than not, shocked. "No, it's not Toronto. And no, it's not Vancouver. Trust me", are the words that often come next.
Well, fellow Ottawans, and World Citizens, Ottawa is a place to be cherished like every other. To my fellow Ottawans, let me inspire you to get out there, to see and to do more in our gorgeous city. And to my fellow World Citizens, let me inspire you to come visit my hometown:
Here are some interesting facts about Ottawa, Ontario, Canada:
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, and has been every since 1857 when England's Queen Victoria declared it be so.
Before Ottawa became Ottawa, it was called Bytown, named after the engineer in charge of the Rideau Canal construction, Colonel John By. BUT, in 1855, the city became an incorporation, and as a result, was named Ottawa.
"Ottawa" comes from the Algonquin word "Adawe", meaning "to trade".
Ottawa is the fourth largest city in Canada (see? not just a blip on the map).
It is also the seventh coldest capital in the world. I know you all think that we Canadians wear tuques all year long, live in igloos, and ride our dog sleds to work every day, but we're actually NOT the coldest place on earth. Here are some colder capitals in ranking of coldest first:
1. Ulaan-Baatar, Mongolia
2. Astana. Kazakhastan
3. Moscow, Russia
4. Helsinki, Finland
5. Reykjavik, Iceland
6. Tallin, Estonia
7. Ottawa, Canada
Speaking of cold- Ottawa proudly owns a UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Rideau Canal.
During the winter seasons, this canal becomes the longest naturally frozen skating rink in the world at 7.8 km (4.7 miles) long. The best time to visit the canal is during the Winterlude Festival, where ice sculptures, snow playgrounds, ice hockey tournaments, and lots of tasty foods line the way of the Rideau Canal.
This is also a great place to pick up some traditional Ottawa foods, like Beavertails (don't worry, they're not actually beavers' tails, they're just this irresistibly delicious sugared pastry that I live for), poutine (french fries, gravy, and cheese curds - basically a heart attack in a bowl, but too tasty to refuse and totally worth it), or maybe some maple taffy on a stick. And if you don't happen to be in town during the winter, don't worry, the Byward Market has you covered.
The Winterlude Festival is only 1 of the 35 festivals that Ottawa hosts each year. Out of these, the Tulip Festival is the most famous. The Tulip Festival is a celebration of spring, but it's also a tradition following the gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs that Queen Juliana of the Netherlands gave to Ottawa in 1945, as a gesture of gratitude for her stay in Ottawa during her exile in World War II. (You can also find Beavertails here. Literally, wherever there's a Beavertails, that's where you'll find me).
In addition to this handful of festivals, Ottawa also has 14 national museums, but the Museum of Civilization is the most visited museum in all of Canada.
If you're more of an outdoors-y, let's-be-active kind of person, then make sure to bring out the running shoes, bikes, or roller blades on Sunday morning. During the summer, the Capital area parkway is completely closed off to cars from 9am - 1pm. You can walk, run, skip, skate, bike, whatever you like (except drive obvi) down the beautiful parkway.
And if you do decide to visit, you can stay in a hostel that used to be a jail in the 19th century!
Or, you can stay at the gorgeous Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel, which is said to be haunted by Charles Melville Hays, the president of the company who built the hotel in the early 1900s. He died on the Titanic 12 days before the grand opening of the hotel. Although you might be accompanied by an old soul during your stay, unfortunately you won't be paying the old prices at $2 per room.
And when you come by to visit this beautiful city, you'll be among the 7.3 million visitors that Ottawa sees each year!