Ottawa is Canada's capital. With nearly a million citizens, it is Canada's sixth-largest city, and Ontario's second-largest city. Across the Ottawa river is Gatineau, Quebec.
While most Ottawans are English-speaking, 15% have French as their mother tongue, making Ottawa Canada's largest Francophone city outside of Quebec. Visitors come to Ottawa to see Parliament Hill, as well as the national museums.
Ottawa started as a humble lumber town called Bytown; it was named after Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers who oversaw the construction of the Rideau Canal, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, much of which was done by hand, between 1826 and 1832. Lumber mills were built along the Ottawa River in the mid-nineteenth century and those brought employment and wealth to the growing population. The centre of action then, as now, was the Byward Market. While it is still the centre of the city's nightlife, it has changed appreciably from the rough and tumble early days of brothels and taverns. Read more