Capital Of Canada

What is the capital of Canada? Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa or Vancouver?

Canadian Flag The capital city of Canada isn't one that is as well known as other major countries. Ask the average person 'What is the Capital city of Canada' and you'll probably get a furrowed brow, followed by a guess of Vancouver or Montreal. Some countries have capitals that are well known as their capitals all around the World, such as London or Paris. Canada, though, does cause problems for many people probably because their capital city isn't their biggest city - in fact it's their fourth largest.


Yes, Ottawa is actually the Canadian capital city, and is located in the South East of Canada in the province of Ontario. It's about 200km West of Montreal and 500km North of New York. It is the fourth largest city in Canada (after Toronto, Montreal and Calgary) and is positioned on the South bank of Ottawa River.

The population is just under 900,000, which is fairly small compared to the Canadian population of 35 million, but Canada is much bigger than most countries (second only to Russia) so it's not too surprising. However, it is still nearly 1/3 the size of Toronto and so is still comparatively small for a capital city.

The first language of people in Ottawa is English, however it is a bilingual city with French spoken as the first language by a large proportion of the population. Both are spoken well, generally, by staff in restaurants and stores.

Ottawa started out as a logging town, called Bytown, with many lumber mills being built along the river. That has been replaced now by tourism, travel and public service as major employers. Also, Ottawa has a booming high-tech sector.

The original capital of Canada was actually Kingston, but in 1857 Queen Victoria selected Ottawa as the new capital city, which was surprising when there were other much larger Canadian cities to choose from. The main airport serving the capital is Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. The city is also well served by buses and trains, such as the 'O-Train' light rail system. The city is situated on a (mainly dormant) fault line, so can occasionally have minor earthquakes. There was a magnitude 5.2 quake in 2000, and a 5.0 quake in 2010. Ottawa has produced many people that have gone on to find fame, too, such as Bryan Adams, Dan Ankroyd, Lorne Greene, Alanis Morissette and Matthew Perry (Bing, from 'Friends')! Tom Cruise also spent some time in Ottawa while young.

Ottawa Tourist Attractions

Ottawa ParliamentThere are many sights to see when visiting the capital city.

Parliament Hill is the first stop for most visitors - the seat of Canada's democracy.

The many museums include the Canadian War museum, Museum of Civilization, Science and Technology Museum, Canada Aviation Museum, Canadian Museum of Nature, Bytown Museum and the Canada Agriculture Museum. Additionally, there is the National Gallery, Royal Canadian Mint, Supreme Court of Canada and Rideau Hall.

You could join on of the many walking tours of the city to get a good introduction to Canada's capital city.

Ottawa is a very safe city with many tourists visiting it throughout the year, though as with any capital city you should use your common sense to avoid potential trouble, however rare it is.

Previous Canadian Capital Cities

Ottawa was chosen as Canada's capital in 1857, although the government didn't move there until 1866, but prior to that several cities were the capital over a short space of time.

As said before, Kingston (in Ontario) was the original capital city, of what was then called the United Province of Canada. This was between 1841 and 1844, and the country consisted of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The capital city then moved to Montreal in Quebec, but after a mob burned down the parliament buildings in Montreal it was moved to Toronto (Ontario) in 1849. Two years later (1851) it was moved to Quebec City (in the province of Quebec), but moved back to Toronto in 1856. Parliament was moved temporarily back to Quebec City in 1860 until they finally moved to the parliament buildings in Ottawa in 1866, after construction finished.

It is quite common for a county to have had several capital cities over the course of its history, but Canada's certainly did move a lot in just a few years. Fortunately, it has remain in Ottawa ever since and is firmly established.

"What is the capital city of Canada?"

The next time you're asked that question, you'll now not only know the answer but be able to tell them all about Ottawa!