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Ottawa History

A Crash Course in Ottawa’s History  

The name “Ottawa” was adapted from an Indian word, Outaouak, the name of the Algonquin tribe that settled and traded furs in the area. 

1613 – Samuel de Champlain was the first European to explore the area. More than two centuries later, his astrolabe (a navigational device) was uncovered in a farmer’s field northwest of Ottawa. 

1800 – Philemon Wright, a United Empire Loyalist, began hacking the area’s first settlement out of the vast woods – a settlement that is now Hull, Quebec. 

1832 – The Rideau Canal was completed, stretching 202 kilometers (125.5 miles) and including 47 locks. It was designed to keep military marine traffic safe from any future American invasion of the St. Lawrence River.

1850 – Chaudière Falls were harnessed as a source of mechanical power. Lumber barons here created the largest concentration of milling operations anywhere in the world. 

1857 – Queen Victoria sparked controversy by choosing Ottawa as the capital of what was then the British provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. 

1867 – Ottawa became the capital of the Dominion of  Canada. It remains the seat of government and the centre of Canada’s parliamentary system. 

1916 – A spectacular fire destroyed the Parliament Buildings. Only the Parliamentary Library was saved. 

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