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Visiting Victoria Island, Ottawa, Ontario: First Nations heritage, and excellent views of Parliament Hill

Updated on February 20, 2016
Flag of Canada
Flag of Canada | Source
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Ottawa, seen from Victoria Island
Ottawa, seen from Victoria Island | Source
Victoria island (bottom) in the Ottawa River, connected by bridge to City of Ottawa near Parliament hill (top)
Victoria island (bottom) in the Ottawa River, connected by bridge to City of Ottawa near Parliament hill (top) | Source

While there, why not participate in pre-booked group visits to the Aboriginal Experiences centre?

Victoria Island (Indigenous name: Asinabka ; French: Île Victoria ) in the Ottawa River (Indigenous: Kichisìpi ; French: Rivière des Outaouais ) offers some superb views of Parliament Hill (French: Colline du Parlement ). Ottawa. One of the best vantage points from which to see the Parliament of Canada buildings to good effect (and from an angle which many visitors do not usually see) is from the eastern side of the Island, which is also where the entrance to the Aboriginal Experiences centre is located; this centre occupies a significant site on the Island.

The street address of the Aboriginal Experiences centre is 100 Middle Street, Ottawa; this part of Victoria Island may be accessed via the Portage Bridge (French: Pont du Portage ). The centre is a venue for many activities, and has a workshop where First Nations' crafts are demonstrated. Among the events in which Aboriginal Experiences has participated has been the Canadian Tulip Festival and the National Aboriginal History Month at the Museum of Civilization (French: Musée de la Civilisation )(1).

From the vantage point of the eastern end of Victoria Island, the situation of the Parliament Building, high on bluffs overlooking the Ottawa River, can be appreciated in a memorable way. (Those who approach Parliament Hill from the Wellington Street side do not always grasp just how much of a hill it really is, since from the other side, the incline is more gradual.)

When in 1857, the former Bytown was selected as the capital of the former Province of Canada, it cannot (in my humble opinion) have been envisaged just how spectacular the Parliament Buildings would eventually look, perched as they are on a limestone outcrop overlooking the Ottawa River.

Interestingly, some of the Parliament Buildings are older than Confederation itself. The East Block (French: Édifice de l'est ) was built between 1859 and 1866 and the West Block (French: Édifice de l'ouest ), before its later extension, was built between 1859 and 1865. The more well known Centre Block (French: Édifice du centre ) was mainly built following the disastrous fire of 1916, which destroyed much of the original building — except the Library of Parliament, dating from 1876 —, which had opened in 1866. The famous Peace Tower (French: Bibliothèque du Parlement ) was completed in 1927.


(1) The Aboriginal Experiences centre mainly functions on a seasonal basis and is not always open to individual visitors, but contact with the facility may be made via its website:!__contact-us

Also worth seeing

In Ottawa itself, among the numerous visitor attractions are: the National War Memorial of Canada; Château Laurier; the Rideau Canal; Laurier House; Rideau Hall; the Bank of Canada Currency Museum; the Supreme Court of Canada Building, and many others.

Gatineau , Quebec (distance from 100 Middle Street, Ottawa to Downtown Gatineau: approx. 0.5 kilometres); the Canadian Museum of Civilization (Musée canadien des civilisations ), in Gatineau is Canada's most visited museum. Gatineau's Citizen's House (French: Masion du citoyen ) has a noted art gallery and the Hall of the Nations (French: Hall des nations ) containing valuable cultural artifacts from around the world. Gatineau Park (French: Parc de la Gatineau ) has exceptional recreational and scenic possibilities.


How to get there: Air Canada flies from various North American destinations to Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport / Aéroport international Macdonald-Cartier d'Ottawa; car rental is available; however, visitors may wish instead to use OC Transpo public transit for travel within the Ottawa / Gatineau area. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 5 years ago

      Gypsy Willow: There is so much to see in Ottawa, where various cultures come together. Thank-you for your comment.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Definitely adding this tour to my bucket list. Thanks fr posting.