Ottawa (ŏtˈəwə) [key], city (1991 pop. 313,987), capital of Canada, SE Ont., at the confluence of the Ottawa and Rideau rivers. Hull, Que., just across the Ottawa at the mouth of the Gatineau River, forms part of the metropolitan area. The Rideau Canal separates the city into upper and lower towns; along its banks and those of the rivers are many landscaped drives as well as much of the city's land area, which totals 1,500 acres (607 hectares). Although Ottawa is not primarily an industrial center, it has industries that produce, among other goods, paper and paper products, printed materials, telecommunications equipment, and electronics. The area's industries utilize the hydroelectric power of the Ottawa (Chaudière Falls) and Gatineau valleys. Since 1940, the largest employer in Ottawa has been the federal government. The city is largely bilingual because federal government employees are required to know both English and French.
The National Capital Commission, a developer of public works, has done much to redevelop the core of the city, removing old rail lines and building new parks (Confederation Square) and national buildings (National Arts Centre, Major-General George R. Pearkes Building [the National Defence Headquarters], Bank of Canada Building). In part because of these development projects, tourism has become Ottawa's second largest industry, attracting about 4 million people annually.
Ottawa proper was founded in 1827 by Col. John By, an engineer in charge of construction of the Rideau Canal. At first called Bytown, it was named after the Ottawa, an Algonquian-speaking people, in 1854. In 1858, Ottawa was chosen by Queen Victoria to be the capital of the United Provinces of Canada, and in 1867 it became capital of the Dominion of Canada.
The government buildings, built between 1859 and 1865, were burned in 1916 but were immediately rebuilt on an enlarged scale. Other notable buildings are Rideau Hall, the residence of the governor-general, the Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals, the Bytown Museum, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the National Gallery, the National Arts Centre, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, the Library and Archives Canada, the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Royal Canadian Mint, and the Rideau Centre complex. Beechwood, the National Cemetery of Canada is the site of the national military cemetery. The Univ. of Ottawa, St. Paul Univ., and Carleton Univ. are in the city. The Canadian Football League's Renegades play in the city; the National Hockey League's Senators in suburban Kanata.
See R. B. Haig, Ottawa (1970); D. B. Knight, A Capital for Canada (1977); J. Taylor, Ottawa: An Illustrated History (1986).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.