BNAPEX 2019 OTTAWA 30 August - 1 September 2019

Activities and attractions
Les activities et les attractions

Ottawa, the nation's capital
Gatineau, across the Ottawa River in Quebec

Ville de Gatineau logo
City of Ottawa logo

Philemon Wright led a group from Woburn, Massachusetts, to the north shore of the Ottawa River where the Gatineau River feeds into it. They arrived in March 1800, and formed a farming community called Wright's Town that eventually became Gatineau. Six years after arriving, Wright established a lumber industry. The community prospered as exports expanded to Montreal and Quebec City.

Following the War of 1812, it was decided to establish a military supply route from Montreal to Kingston. A route for a canal, the Rideau Canal, was surveyed, and in 1826 Lieutenant-Colonel John By was appointed to oversee its construction. Contractors included Philemon Wright who supplied much of the stone, mortar and labour. The Governor General, George Ramsay, the Earl of Dalhousie, authorized By to divide the area where the Rideau Canal meets the Ottawa River into lots for settlement. This area became Bytown, founded on 26 September 1826 and incorporated as a town on 1 January 1850. Bytown was renamed Ottawa in 1854, and was incorporated as a city on 1 January 1855.

In 1841, Upper and Lower Canada amalgamated to become the Province of Canada. Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the capital in 1857. Ottawa continued as the capital of the Dominion of Canada after Confederation on 1 July 1867.

Parliament Buildings

Parliament buildings from across the Ottawa River

Credit: Maria Azzurra Mugnai / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Parliament buildings from across the Ottawa River

The House of Commons Centre Block is undergoing extensive multi-year renovations, and is closed to the public; however, guided tours of the East Block, West Block, and newly renovated Senate of Canada Building are available.

For more information and free tickets


Front of the Canadian Museum of Nature building

© Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Museum of Nature

Ottawa and Gatineau offer museums that cater to a wide range of interests from history to the latest technology, from agriculture to the arts. Here's a sample.

  • Canadian Museum of History
    Features history, archaeology, ethnology and culture within Canada and abroad.
  • Canadian War Museum
    Covers Canada's military history from conflicts within the country to Canadian involvement in world conflicts and peace-keeping missions.
  • Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum
    Built in 1959 under Prime Minister John Diefenbaker to house key members of the government and military in the event of a nuclear attack on Canada. Converted to a museum dealing with the Cold War in 1997.
  • Canada Aviation and Space Museum
    Explores Canada's aviation history with displays of civilian and military aircraft from before the First World War to today. Includes components of the 1950s Avro Arrow and the Space Shuttle Endeavour's Canadarm.
  • Canada Science and Technology Museum
    Among the exhibits: Artifact Alley (vehicles to cameras to telescopes), Crazy Kitchen (perceptions and illusions), From Earth to Us (harnessing natural resources), Medical Sensations (medicine through the five senses), Hidden Worlds (from the smallest objects to the deepest parts of the universe)
  • Canadian Museum of Nature
    Displays of botany, zoology, palaeobiology, rock, mineral, and gem collections.
  • Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
    Highlights: Canola! Seeds of Innovation (development of canola oil from rapeseed), Discovery Park (renewable energy technology on farms), Food Preservation: The Science You Eat (delaying food decay and keeping food nutritious and safe from farm to fork), Space to Spoon (how space technology benefits sustainable agriculture)
  • National Gallery of Canada
    Collections of art from across Canada and around the world. Includes Canadian and Indigenous Galleries, the Canadian Photography Institute, international Contemporary Art collection, European Art collection, and Old Master and Canadian Prints and Drawings.

Philately & Numismatics

Library and Archives Canada building

Credit: Padraic Ryan

Library and Archives Canada

Royal Canadian Mint

Credit: Lezumbalaberenjena

Royal Canadian Mint

  • Library and Archives Canada
    Library and Archives Canada (LAC) preserves the records of the Post Office Department and Canada Post Corporation including postage stamp die and plate proofs. It has publications on philately, the post office and postal history including government publications, periodicals and monographs. It has philatelic and other archival records acquired from non-governmental sources.

    For more information on philatelic material at LAC:
    Philately at LAC / La philatélie à BAC (2.5 MB pdf) - Presentation made at BNAPEX 2018 Quebec by James Bone, Archivist, Archives Branch, Library and Archives Canada

    LAC makes this material available for consultation by researchers. To order material for on-site consultation, you must first register for a user card and then identify the material you wish to consult, preferably one to two weeks before your visit to LAC. The process for doing this is described on the following page on the LAC website:
    On-site research at LAC

    Here is a summary of the process (scroll down to the lower part of the page).

    If you need help to identify or order material, you can contact James Bone, Archivist, by email.

    Note that the philatelic material is but a small part of the LAC holdings. LAC also has military records dating back to New France, an extensive collection of Indigenous documentary heritage, genealogy records and resources, immigration records from 1865 to 1935, census records from 1640 to 1926, and much more. LAC embarked on a digitization project several years ago, and offers a wealth of online records and images on its website.
  • Royal Canadian Mint
    The Royal Canadian Mint has its headquarters in the historic building in Ottawa where it was founded in 1908. Hand-crafted collector and commemorative coins, gold bullion coins, medals and medallions are produced here. The master tooling to create the dies that strike coin designs for both circulation and commemorative issues is also done here. This is also the site of the Mint's gold refining and advanced engineering operations.

    The Mint offers an interactive guided tour that shows how coins are made.


Rideau Canal emptying into the Ottawa River

Credit: Bobak Ha'Eri

Rideau Canal emptying into the Ottawa River

Enjoy walks along the Rideau Canal, which runs through the centre of the city, and in the bustling Byward Market with its many restaurants. Ottawa and Gatineau have many scenic recreational biking paths.

There are golf courses and hiking trails. For the more adventuresome, there is also whitewater rafting.

Other Attractions

These websites provide suggestions for other activities and attractions in the Ottawa - Gatineau region:

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This page was last modified on 2019-02-05