December 31 – Ottawa Becomes the Capital!

Posted December 31, 2013

 On this date in 1857, Queen Victoria selected a small logging town as capital of Canada.

I can just picture her announcing that Ottawa would be the new capital, and larger cities such as Quebec City, Toronto, and Montreal looking at one another and saying, “What? Who? Why?”

You know, if cities could talk!

Actually, Canada then (and to some extent now) was a little bit like two different countries. In Canada East (once called “Lower Canada”), the French-speaking people were primarily Catholic and conservative. In Canada West, (once called “Upper Canada”), the English-speaking people were primarily Protestant and reformist.

If Queen Victoria had chosen Quebec City or Montreal as capital of the entire nation, the people of Ontario (Canada West) would have been quite unhappy. If she had chosen Toronto, of course, the people of Quebec (Canada East) would've been unhappy. Ottawa was on the border between the two regions and was therefore a compromise.

Also, Montreal and Toronto were quite close to the U.S. border. The War of 1812 had shown that they were vulnerable to American attack—and Ottawa was some 70 kilometers (more than 40 miles) away, and (at that time) surrounded by dense-and-protective forest. Still, Ottawa could easily be reached via the Ottawa River and a canal.

Ottawa sculptor John Ceprano stacks up rocks
each summer to create an interesting sculpture.
(By the way... Even as recently as 1840, people spoke of the Canadas, plural. It was in 1841 that Lower and Upper Canada were united in the Province of Canada.)

Fun things about Ottawa
  • An old jail (the county gaol) has been made into hotel.
  • There is a Cold War Museum with the real bunker-for-Canada's-government, preserved from the 1960s. There is a blast tunnel, the prime minister's secret hideout, and a war room.
  • Ottawa has a thriving “Chinatown,” with Vietnamese, Korean, and Thai restaurants as well as (of course) Chinese restaurants. And another neighborhood is called Little Italy!
  • Supreme Court justices, members of Parliament, and lawyers take part in an annual “Lawyer Play” to raise funds for the Great Canadian Theatre Company.

Also on this date:

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest pages on:
And here are my Pinterest boards for:

No comments:

Post a Comment