Setting > Ottawa

Ottawa 1916

I just loved the style and the tone used in the advertisement pamphlet For Tourists and Sportsmen published by the Russell Hotel to promote their hotel and Ottawa. Here is an except:

PERCHED high on a rocky promontory jutting out into the mighty Ottawa River a few hundred yards below the great Chaudiere Falls, and half a mile or so above the junction of the Gatineau with the Ottawa, stand the Parliament Buildings of the Dominion of Canada, on one of the grandest sites for public buildings to be found in the whole world. From the top of the main tower of the Parliament Buildings the view is un-equalled. For a mingling of the wildness of nature and the stateliness of advanced civilization, the scenes lying before the visitor, whether he look north, south, east, or west, cannot be excelled. Looking to the north, the City of Hull, with its 15,000 inhabitants, is in the foreground, and the Chelsea Hills and the Laurentian Mountains in the background, while east and west stretches the magnificent Ottawa River, broken by the tumultuous Chaudiere Falls, and widening out in the distance into the broad expanse of Lake Deschenes. A slight turn towards the east brings two more rivers into view—the Rideau, with its silvery falls, some 50 feet in height, forming a misty veil as it falls into the Ottawa on the Ontario side of the river, and the Gatineau quietly mingling its waters with the larger stream a short distance below on the Quebec side of the Ottawa.

page 3

A Modern City

Ottawa is essentially a modern city. Its foundations were laid little more than 75 years ago, when the building of the Rideau Canal was commenced under Lieut.-Col. By, of the Royal Engineers, in the year 1826, when the little settlement which grew up around the canal works as they progressed got to be called Bytown, a name which it retained until it was transformed into a city, under the name of Ottawa, by an Act of the Parliament of the old province of Canada, which took effect on the 1st of January, 1855. At that time the population was about 10,000, and the city consisted almost entirely of a collection of wooden houses on the low lying land between the line of the Rideau Canal and the junction of the Rideau River with the Ottawa, and which is now comprised in By, Ottawa, and St. George’s wards of the modern city. West of the Canal there were a few stone houses and a few streets laid out, but without any buildings on them except a few wooden houses scarcely much more than shanties. At this time there was great rivalry between the cities of Quebec and Montreal in what was then known as Lower Canada, now the Province of Quebec, and Toronto and Kingston, in what is now known as the Province of Ontario, as to which city should be the seat of government of the Province of Canada, which had been created by the Union Act of 1841. A sort of perambulating capital had been established by which the seat of government was changed every four years from Toronto, in Upper Canada, to Quebec, in Lower Canada.

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Selected by the Queen

This system was found so awkward and inconvenient that in 1857 it was decided to leave the question of the selection of the site for a permanent capital to Her Majesty the Queen and she, on the advice of Her Ministers, and with the consent and ratification of the Parliament of Canada selected Ottawa. A wiser decision could not have been made. Nature appears to have designed the place for a great city, and man has not been slow in developing the magnificent resources which have been scattered broadcast and lavishly around the Capital of the Dominion. With enormous water power rolling past her very doors and a much greater power everywhere around her, east, west, north and south; with minerals of all kinds including iron, mica, phosphate, gold and samples at least of most of the minerals found in Canada lying hidden in the mountains which surround her; with a vast and fertile agricultural country spreading out on every hand and reaching over to the St. Lawrence, about 100 miles distant; with half a dozen main lines of railway, and as many branch lines centering in the heart of the City; with a vigorous and progressive people, well laid out and well lighted streets, handsome buildings, one hotel which is not excelled in the Dominion, and several others which are good in their way, a magnificent water service and the best street railway system on the Continent, Ottawa is not only a handsome, comfortable and convenient place to live in, but it undoubtedly has before it the greatest future of any City in the Dominion. In less than half a century of corporate existence it has risen from a backwoods village to the proud position of the fourth City in the Dominion in population, wealth, trade and importance, and there is but little doubt that ere another half century rolls away it will not only have become the third City in the Dominion but may possibly have passed Toronto and taken a position amongst the cities of Canada second only to Montreal.

page 6 to page 8

Sources and further readings


For tourists and sportsmen, The Russell, Ottawa, Hotel Victoria, Aylmer, Que., F.X. St. Jacques, proprietor. Source courtesy Internet Archive.

Ottawa Ontario’s Official Guide to Ottawa Travel and Hotels - Ottawa Tourism


George F. Abbott; A. H. O’Brien, Abbott’s guide to Ottawa, Hull and vicinity, Ottawa, 1911.