Ottawa,Capital Of Canada, Why Geography Matters


As of 2017, the nation of Canada will be 150 years old. With that said, let’s do a little quickfacts.

Capital: Ottawa.

Anyone could memorize the capitals of nations and provinces. However, there is more to a capital city than that.

Ottawa isn’t the largest city in Canada. It’s not even the largest city in Canada’s most populated province, Ontario. Both titles are reserved for Ontario’s capital and largest city, Toronto. What would give Ottawa the title, Capital of Canada?

Well, geography matters. In Ottawa’s case, very much so. Look at where Ottawa is located. It is in Ontario, but it straddles the border with Quebec. It sits between an English speaking province and a French speaking province. Ottawa metro itself is a bilingual area. French and English are spoken here. It is roughly equidistant between Windsor,ONT, on the border with Detroit,USA, and Quebec City, Quebec. This is the most densely populated area in Canada, with metropolitan areas such as Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, Hamilton,etc.

Now lets take a trip further back. Ottawa was founded as Bytown in 1826. At the time, Canada was Upper Canada and Lower Canada. Ottawa was in Upper Canada. The capital was York, now called Toronto. Quebec City was the capital of Lower Canada. In 1841, the Province of Canada was founded. Kingston (not to be confused with Jamaica’s capital city) was the first capital. Then it was Montreal. Next was Toronto. After that, the capital switched between Quebec and Toronto until 1866. In 1857, Queen Victoria (this was before Canada became a sovereign nation) ordered the capital be built and moved to Ottawa. Why Ottawa?

Ottawa, at that time, located around woodlands and relatively remote. And yet, this was chosen for capital city. It was further away from border with the USA. It is located on the Ottawa River, giving access to Montreal. The Rideau Canal would given Ottawa access to Kingston. Ottawa is also centrally located relative to Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, and Kingston.


Geography matters in why Ottawa is the capital of Canada. It mattered in 1866, and it matters now. Movement played a factor. Place as well. Capitals aren’t just randomly placed.


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