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A visit to Ottawa, Ontario

Updated on December 20, 2010

A short (and slightly cynical) overview of Ontario's history...

The history of Canada runs from the French and Indian Wars , over the American Revolution , and up to the Canadian Confederation .

In 1763 the British founded the province of Quebec , from the newly conquered New France territory.

During and after the American Revolution, all the remaining British Loyalists moved from the US to Quebec. Alas, the eastern side of Quebec was French -speaking, as most of the remaining French had retreated there, while the western side was English -speaking.

In 1791, the British divided the original (French) colony of Quebec into Upper Canada (present day Ontario), and Lower Canada (present day Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia).

A "burning" question...

Now why was Upper Canada LOWER on the map than Lower Canada ?

Such nonsense can obviously only have been political. The British considered that the British part of Canada (and thus Upper) was more important than the French part (and thus Lower) Canada... Simple, n'est-ce-pas ?

In 1841, the British again knit Upper and Lower Canada together, and they called it the United Province of Canada. Ontario was named West Canada, and Quebec was named East Canada.

In 1867, Queen Victoria split up the United Province of Canada. West Canada was named Ontario, and East Canada was named Quebec. She brought all the Canadian provinces, the Northwest Territory, and all the lands of the Hudson Bay Company into the Dominion of British North America.

Later, Manitoba and British Columbia joined the confederation, et voilà, that is Canada !

As a matter of fact, the British Queen is still Canada's Sovereign, next to being sovereign of fourteen other countries !

Ottawa City

Ottawa is the capital of Canada. The snugly busy commercial center looks more European than the city of Toronto, with many charming small shops. Everything is clean and well maintained, even in downtown!

A pleasant walk to Parliament Hill leads through an attractive park. It shows an amazing series of seven locks, built to access the river.

A little ahead lays the ancient but still elegant Château Laurier.

Wellington Avenue presents the majestic buildings of the National Parliament. A little further is the Canadian Mint, and the next bridge again offers a magnificent overview of the city.

Well worth a visit !

Chteau Laurier
Chteau Laurier
National Parliament
National Parliament
Le Corbillard
Le Corbillard

Museum of Canadian Civilization (Quebec)

This interesting museum is actually located on the territory of the province of Quebec, as the river is the dividing line between Ontario and Quebec.

The Museum of Canadian Civilization is an architecturally well designed building, with a lot of light and artfully decorated.

The first level shows a collection of life-sized totem poles, next to six complete houses with artifacts of the original Aboriginal residents from Canada's Western side. These indeed have a history of 15,000 years, of which unfortunately not many remnants remain. Interesting, and nicely portrayed !

On the second level is the Canadian Postal Museum, a museum for children, an Imax theatre, and a few special exhibitions. In the Hall one can admire a rather particular piece of art from Gauthier, which is a beautifully sculptured hearse (le corbillard)...

On the third level, one thousand years of Canadian history is exhibited. This time line runs from the Vikings, around 1000 AC, to contemporary history. The exhibition is brilliantly exhibited, well documented, instructive and most interesting.

There is extensive visual and written information about the Vikings (Leif Ericsson, who landed in Nova Scotia, via Greenland and Iceland, and that without any navigational instruments!), and the history of the whalers (who earned fortunes with whale bones and oil, and managed to kill some 18,000 whales in one hundred years...).

One sees the development of La Nouvelle France, under the French king Louis XIV. He built an enormous empire from the ground up, that went from Nova Scotia and Sault Ste Marie in the north, all the way to La Nouvelle Orleans in the south. Finally, the exhibition presents scenes from the late 1800's.

A masterful exhibition, certainly not to be missed !

Video : Museum of Canadian Civilization


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