Ottawa is rightly known as the capital of Canada. However, few people know all that the city has to offer besides the Parliament building and the Supreme Court. Despite its relatively low population density, there is plenty that is interesting about Ottawa.
Read below for 7 interesting facts about Ottawa that you can relay during your next conversation about the city to sound like an Ottawa expert!
1. The name Ottawa comes from an Algonquin word
The name ‘Ottawa’ is derived from the Algonquin word adawe which means ‘to trade.’ Originally in 1850, the city was named Bytown after Colonel John By, who supervised the construction of the famous Rideau Canal. In 1855, however, the name was changed to Ottawa.
The Ottawa river was essential to the indigenous Algonquin people as they used it for trade, fishing, hunting, and other commercial uses. The city remains a major business center to this day.
2. Ottawa is home to over 50 incredible festivals
Ottawa hosts over 50 major festivals. The types of festivals held in Ottawa include pop culture festivals such as the Ottawa Comicon for comic book fans, food festivals such as the Ottawa Poutine Festival, film and stage festivals including the Ottawa Canadian Film Festival which celebrates Canadian cinematography, and cultural festivals such as the Carnival of Cultures.
The variety of festivals held in the city highlight the art, culture, and diversity of the city. Perhaps the most popular festival in Ottawa is the Canadian Tulip Festival held each year in May. This exuberant, colorful festival showcases millions of fresh tulips all over the city.
3. Its composition is among the youngest in Canada
Approximately half of the population of Ottawa is aged under 35 years old. In fact, about a quarter of the total population is either in its teens or younger.
Having a young population bestows several advantages. For example, a higher percentage of youth guarantees a large workforce for the future as well as a growing market for manufactured products. In addition, young people are generally more progressive than their older generations, which makes Ottawa a relatively progressive and open-minded city.
4. Ottawa is highly educated and technologically advanced
Ottawa is rated as the most educated city in Canada, and for good reason. It has the most scientists, engineers, and Ph.D.’s per capita in the country. It also features five universities, including the well-known University of Ottawa and Carleton University, and two colleges.
Besides educational institutions, Ottawa ranks among the top in technological talent in the country. According to CBRE’s 2019 Canadian Tech Talent Report, Ottawa has the second most tech talent after Toronto, with 10% of the workforce belonging to the technology sector. From Ottawa web design companies to health-tech startups, the city is home to over 1800 technology companies.
5. It is the 7th coldest capital in the world
Canada shares with Russia the title of the ‘coldest nation in the world.’ Ottawa, Canada’s capital, keeping in line with the aforementioned title, is one of the coldest capitals in the world.
Ottawa ranks as the 7th coldest national capital in the world, with Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia ranking first. On average, the Canadian capital receives 92.8 inches of snowfall annually. The lowest temperature ever recorded in the city was a below-freezing -36.1 degrees Celsius on February 15, 1943.
6. Ottawa boasts 14 national museums
With 14 wonderful museums, Ottawa is a dream city for museum fans. Ottawa’s museums display history (Canadian Museum of History), art (The National Gallery of Canada), science (Canadian Science and Tech Museum), and more!
The most visited museum in Canada and its national museum of human history, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, is also located in Ottawa.
7. Several top celebrities hail from Ottawa
Lastly, Ottawa has produced its fair share of renowned celebrities. The most well-known celebrity from the city is perhaps Matthew Perry who plays the sensitive but sarcastic character of Chandler Bing in the hit ’90s sitcom Friends. In addition, Peter Jennings – the sole anchor of ABC World News Tonight from 1983 to 2005 – was also born in Ottawa.
Another top actor with a connection to Ottawa is Golden Globe winner Tom Cruise, who attended school in Ottawa for a few years.
Among Toronto’s high-rise buildings and Vancouver’s green beauty, Ottawa is often underestimated. However, the Canadian capital has a lot to offer in terms of business, history, art, and culture. With an active tech scene and the most educated people in Canada, Ottawa has the potential to become the next Silicon Valley.