Historical Sites to See in Ottawa


While Ottawa may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about making a move or enjoying a getaway, Canada's capital city offers a surprising number of things to see and do as well as being a great place to live. In fact, while you're here, you might just find yourself checking out the Ottawa homes for sale.

If you're a history enthusiast, you'll definitely want to explore the top historical sites, including these. 

Parliament Hill

The anchor of downtown Ottawa, Parliament Hill, is the seat of Canada’s federal government, bordering the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal. Visitors can take a free guided tour to learn more about the city and the nation while also getting a bird's-eye view from the observation deck. The Changing of the Guard ceremony is a must experience if you're here during the summer months, hosted daily at 10 a.m. 

Rideau Canal

This renowned canal is not only a great place for boating during the summer and ice skating during the winter. The 125-mile-long waterway that connects the city to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River at Kingston is a unique historic landmark. It's considered the finest example of a slack water canal built in 19th-North America, constructed for the English government as part of defensive efforts in the event of a war with the U.S. Most of its original structures are still intact today.

The Billings House 

The Billings House is part of the Billings Estate National Historic Site. It's one of the oldest homes in the city, a Georgian homestead built by Gloucester Township's first settler, Braddish Billings. The Billings family settled here on the Rideau River in 1812. Today the home serves as a museum with self-guided indoor and outdoor guided tours that include one of the oldest community cemeteries in Ottawa, where well-known pioneers like the Firth, Brouse, and Evans families were laid to rest. 

Royal Canadian Mint

The Royal Canadian Mint is housed inside a Tudor-Gothic building. Its construction, combining a gold refinery and a mint, was a symbol of the patriation of control over the country's British currency. Guided, interactive tours offer a behind-the-scenes look at the state-of-the-art facilities and informative displays.

Notre Dame Basilica

Ottawa's oldest and largest church, the Notre Dame Basilica prominently sits on Sussex Drive with its twin towers marking the entrance to Lower Town, one of the earliest neighborhoods in the city. It's considered an exceptional example of Gothic-Revival architecture, built in the 19th-century. While the exterior may not look like much at first glance, with the exception of the reflective tin steeples, when entering you'll be able to marvel at the gorgeous stained-glass windows, grand vaulted roof, a pipe organ with over 1,000 pipes, and a high altar. 

Maplelawn and Gardens

This historic home and former estate provides a rare example of an early 19th-century Canadian country estate. It includes the best-preserved of the few examples that still survive of walled gardens from the period in the country, with about 125 plant species that are still thriving today. Both the home and gardens offer a living record of how European landscape and architectural concepts were transplanted to Canada.