The Bytown Museum recounts Ottawa’s rich history, from the early years of Rideau Canal construction, through the rough and tumble times of early Bytown, to Ottawa’s designation as Canada’s capital and beyond. The museum is fittingly located inside the city’s oldest stone building which was originally used as a treasury and storehouse during the Rideau Canal’s construction from 1826 to 1832.
The museum is also located beside the picturesque Ottawa Locks of the Rideau Canal. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a hive of activity throughout the year. In the summer, its calm waters and historic locks attract boaters and paddlers, and Rideau Canal Cruises runs electric boat tours. In the winter, the canal is transformed into the Rideau Canal Skateway – the world’s largest skating rink where thousands of people skate to work, school or for pleasure. The pathways and green parks that line both sides of the canal are a mecca for cyclists and runners looking for a workout with a view. The Rideau Canal is a little piece of heaven within the downtown core!
Entertainment and culture
World-class entertainment and homegrown talent is on stage – in English and French – at the many theatres in Downtown Rideau including the National Arts Centre (NAC), Arts Court Theatre and La Nouvelle Scène. Visit the Bytowne Cinema to see independent and foreign films in one of Ottawa’s oldest movie theatres.
The completely renovated Ottawa Art Gallery, which is attached to the Arts Court, displays some of the best local and Canadian art including works by the Group of Seven. Admission is free!
This area also hosts special events celebrating film, music and seasons throughout the year including the TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival (Jazzfest) in June, Christmas Lights Across Canada in December, as well as Winterlude in February. Confederation Park, located next to the NAC, is an official site for many events.
Shopping, dining and relaxing
Retail therapy is easy at the CF Rideau Centre – the largest shopping destination in the city. Between Nordstrom, Simons and all of your favourite affordable and luxury brand names, you’ll find everything you’re looking for. Or head across the street to NRML, one of North America’s premier streetwear boutiques. And to refuel after all that shopping, try a spa treatment at Holtz Spa or locally-inspired cuisine and craft beer at restaurants like The Albion Rooms.