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Ottawa - Toronto - Montreal - Vancouver - Qubec City


Canada's capital sprawls along the southern bank of the Ottawa River, on the eastern tip of Ontario. As you'd expect, it's a government town, dominated physically and spiritually by the neo-Gothic Parliament Buildings. You'll hear a fair amount of French spoken here, as federal government workers are required to be bilingual. There's not a heap of exciting things to do in Ottawa - other than marvel at being in a national capital - but the air's clean, the streets are wide, there are lots of public parks and the people seem happy and healthy as they jog or cycle their way to work. The city has the usual plethora of impressive buildings common to capital cities: the War Museum (with a life-sized replica of a WWI trench), the Royal Mint, various grand old homes inhabited by ministers of state and a swag of museums to do justice to the country's icons: nature, aviation, science and technology, skiing and agriculture. Ottawa is also home to Canada's premier art collection, the National Gallery, displaying an enormous array of North American and European works. In summer the city is dotted with the familiar red coats of the Royal Canadian Mounties.Ottawa's downtown district is divided into eastern and western portions by the Rideau Canal. The eastern section has a very useful pocket of central guesthouses, most of them with heritage details of some sort. Motels are clustered along Rideau St in the east, and along Carling Ave on the western side of town. Byward Market, east of the canal, has a stack of cheap eateries, and western downtown is the place to go for more upmarket eating.

Parliament Hill Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill is at the political heart of Canada. Situated on a bluff overlooking the Ottawa River, it is actually a collection of three turn-of-the-century Gothic structures known as the East Block, Centre Block and West Block. The West Block and East Block contain the offices of Members of Parliament. The House of Commons and the Senate are located in the Centre Block with its soaring Peace Tower. Admission is free.
Canadian Museum of Civilization Canadian Museum of Civilization

Located on the shore of the Ottawa River, across from Parliament Hill, the Museum of Civilization opened to rave reviews in 1989 and is home to over 3.5 million artifacts and exhibits of national historical and cultural importance. The museum is also home to the interactive Canadian Children's Museum. Several IMAX features are available.
National Gallery of Canada National Gallery of Canada

Arguably the most beautiful structure in the nation's capital, and certainly a spectacular addition to Ottawa's skyline, the Gallery was designed by Moshe Safdie and completed in 1988. After entering the building, visitors proceed up a long, glass concourse with a vaulted ceiling that leads to the Great Hall. From the hall, visitors can access the gallery's many rooms, each based on an artistic style or period. Pieces include works by masters such as Pissaro, Gustav Klimt and Rembrandt. Admission to the permanent collection is free
Rideau Canal

Built between 1827 and 1832 without the aid of power machinery, the Canal is one of Ottawa's oldest landmarks; it runs from the Ottawa River near Parliament Hill to Hog's Back Falls on the south end of the city. During the summer a wide range of vessels, including tour boats, glide along the waterway, while people in-line skate, jog or stroll on the canal's picturesque banks. During the winter, the canal is transformed into the "World's Longest Skating Rink," and is a hub of activity during Ottawa's Winterlude festival.
Royal Canadian Mint Royal Canadian Mint

The mint has been producing Canadian coinage since 1908. Although coins in circulation are now struck at the mint in Winnipeg, Manitoba, special commemorative coins, tokens and medallions are still struck here. Take the popular and extremely interesting guided tour, offered alternately in French and English—call ahead for times, as they change seasonally.

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