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Although Toronto is the great Canadian city that trips off the tongue of most people outside Canada, poor Ottawa is actually the nation’s capital (you knew that, right?!). Here are a few things about this lovely little city you might not have known:
1. Situated in the eastern part of the province of Ontario, with only 1.2 million people living in its metropolitan area, Ottawa is smaller than Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. 25% of residents speak French, unlike the rest of the country where English is pretty much all you’ll get (unless you’re in Quebec province, obviously. That’s a whole other story).
2. There are plenty of cultural and historic sites in the city, but ironically, the only one museum in Ottawa where you don’t have to pay an entrance fee is The Currency Museum (ok, and the Canadian museum of History, but only on Thursday nights from 4-8pm).
3. The Tulip Festival, which is one of the most popular events of the year in the city, held its 62nd edition this year. Every year, in May, over 3 million tulips bloom in pretty much every green space available. What you may not have known is that afterwards all the bulbs are dug up and kept in cold storage until the next festival (yup, all 3 million bulbs!).
4. Château Laurier, the most beautiful hotel in the city, is said to be haunted by the man who ordered the hotel to be built, Charles Melville Hays. He never saw the building’s completion, as he died on board the Titanic on his way to Canada.
5. The Rideau Canal, which links Ottawa to Kingston, freezes in the winter and turns into a great skating “highway” used by people to travel from the suburbs to downtown. It is officially the longest skating rink in the world, at 202 kilometers.
Bonus! In Byward Market, at the Moulin de Provence bakery, you can buy Obama cookies, named like this after the US president bought some for his family. The cookies are in the shape of a maple leaf and it says “Canada” on them.
[P.S. Another thing you may not have known about Ottawa is that we have some luxurious apartments right downtown; check them out here]