Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. It stands on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of southern Ontario. Ottawa borders Gatineau, Quebec, and forms the core of the Ottawa–Gatineau census metropolitan area (CMA) and the National Capital Region (NCR). As of 2016, Ottawa had a city population of 934,243 and a metropolitan population of 1,323,783 making it the fourth-largest city and the fifth-largest CMA in Canada. In June 2019, the City of Ottawa estimated it had surpassed a population of a million.
Founded in 1826 as Bytown, and incorporated as Ottawa in 1855, the city has evolved into the political centre of Canada. Its original boundaries were expanded through numerous annexations and were ultimately replaced by a new city incorporation and amalgamation in 2001 which significantly increased its land area. The city name "Ottawa" was chosen in reference to the Ottawa River, the name of which is derived from the Algonquin Odawa, meaning "to trade".
Data and Facts
- Ottawa has the most educated population among Canadian cities
- The name Ottawa comes from the Algonquin word adawe – which means to trade
- The average annual snowfall in Ottawa is 236 centimetres (92.8 inches)
- Ottawa receives an average of 2061 hours of bright sunshine a year
- About 25% of Ottawa residents were born outside of Canada
- Nearly half the population is under the age of 35 – making it one of the youngest cities in the country
- Ottawa is the fourth cleanest city out of 300 major cities ranked around the world according to Forbes
The City of Ottawa is a single-tier municipality, meaning it is in itself a census division and has no county or regional municipality government above it. As a single-tier municipality, Ottawa has responsibility for all municipal services, including fire, emergency medical services, police, parks, roads, sidewalks, public transit, drinking water, storm water, sanitary sewage and solid waste. Perhaps the safest areas for the Liberals are the ones dominated by Francophones, especially in Vanier and central Gloucester.Central Ottawa is usually more left-leaning, and the New Democratic Party have won ridings there. Some of Ottawa's suburbs are swing areas, notably central Nepean and, despite its francophone population, Orléans.The southern and western parts of the old city of Ottawa are generally moderate and swing to the Conservative Party. The farther one goes outside the city centre like to Kanata and Barrhaven and rural areas, the voters tend to be increasingly conservative, both fiscally and socially. Rural parts of the former township of Cumberland, with a large number of Francophones, traditionally support the Liberal Party, though their support has recently weakenedAt present, Ottawa is host to 130 embassies.A further 49 countries accredit their embassies and missions in the United States to Canada.
The federal government is Ottawa’s major employer. A large number of jobs are also provided by the technology sector; a number of telecommunications, software, defense and security, biotechnology, and wireless companies are located in the capital region. Many commercial and financial associations as well as embassies and trade groups have their headquarters or offices in the city.
As of 2015, the region of Ottawa-Gatineau has the sixth highest total household income of all Canadian metropolitan areas .The median household income after taxes is $73,745 which is higher than the national median of $61,348.The unemployment rate in Ottawa in 2016 was 7.2%, lower than the national rate of 7.7%. In 2019 Mercer ranks Ottawa with the third highest quality of living of any Canadian city, and 19th highest in the world. It is also rated the second cleanest city in Canada, and third cleanest city in the world.Ottawa's primary employers are the Public Service of Canada and the high-tech industry, although tourism and healthcare also represent increasingly sizeable economic activities. The Federal government is the city's largest employer, employing over 110,000 individuals from the National Capital region.The national headquarters for many federal departments are in Ottawa, particularly throughout Centretown and in the Terrasses de la Chaudière and Place du Portage complexes in Hull. During the summer, the city hosts the Ceremonial Guard, which performs functions such as the Changing the Guard.As the national capital of Canada, tourism is an important part of Ottawa's economy, particularly after the 150th anniversary of Canada which was centred in Ottawa. The lead-up to the festivities saw much investment in civic infrastructure, upgrades to tourist infrastructure and increases in national cultural attractions. The National Capital Region annually attracts an estimated 7.3 million tourists, who spend about 1.18 billion dollars.In addition to the economic activities that come with being the national capital, Ottawa is an important technology centre; in 2015, its 1800 companies employed approximately 63,400 people.The concentration of companies in this industry earned the city the nickname of «Silicon Valley North».Most of these companies specialize in telecommunications, software development and environmental technology. The «tech sector» was doing particularly well in 2015/2016.Another major employer is the health sector, which employs over 18,000 people.Four active general hospitals are in the Ottawa area: Queensway Carleton Hospital, The Ottawa Hospital, Montfort Hospital, and Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Several specialized hospital facilities are also present, such as the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.Nordion, i-Stat and the National Research Council of Canada and OHRI are part of the growing life science sector.usiness, finance, administration, and sales and service rank high among types of occupations.Approximately ten percent of Ottawa's GDP is derived from finance, insurance and real estate whereas employment in goods-producing industries is only half the national average.The City of Ottawa is the second largest employer with over 15,000 employees.In 2006, Ottawa experienced an increase of 40,000 jobs over 2001 with a five-year average growth that was relatively slower than in the late 1990s. While the number of employees in the federal government stagnated, the high-technology industry grew by 2.4%.
Ottawa's robust economy centres on two major sectors - high technology and the federal government. Both sectors offer high-paying jobs for knowledge workers in a relatively stable environment and account for 37% of Ottawa's total gross domestic product . In 2004, the median family income in Ottawa-Gatineau was $73,500 - the highest among Canada's six largest cities.
employment has remained stable. However, government hiring has slowed since the election of a new federal government in 2006.
The City of Ottawa also benefits from a vital rural sector. In Ottawa, the rural economy contributes over $1 billion to the GDP. Agriculture alone accounts for $400 million, $136.7 million of which is farm-gate sales. Rural economic activity includes such things as agriculture, retail sales, construction, forestry and mining , tourism, manufacturing, personal and business services, and transportation, to name a few. Rural employment expanded by a healthy 18% from 1996 to 2001.
The Ottawa agricultural sector represents close to 300,000 acres of land farmed by more than 1,300 agricultural operations, employing approximately 10,000 people. Responsible, sustainable farming practices contribute to maintaining the value of Ottawa's countryside. As previously stated, the technology and federal government sectors account for 37% of total Ottawa GDP . This level of concentration means Ottawa relies heavily on these two sectors as the main drivers of its economy. Ottawa does not experience the same level of economic fluctuations seen in other municipalities because the federal government sector has been remarkably stable over the years and government employment does not tend to vary with economic cycles.Annual inflation rates, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, averaged 2% from 2000 to 2004, exceeding 3% once in 2002. The CPI reflects the basket of goods consumed by a typical household. Low rates of inflation reflect the monetary policy the Bank of Canada favours to keep inflation within a range of 1% to 3%. Conference Board forecasts for Ottawa predict long-term inflation will average just over 2%. The following graph shows the inflation rate by month calculated as the average of the preceding 12-month period.Ottawa experienced vigorous employment growth in the latter part of the 1990s and has posted employment growth comparable to the Ontario average since 2001. Employment levels in Ottawa, when measured as an index, have consistently outperformed the provincial average since 1999.Since the turn of the century, Ottawa's unemployment rate has been relatively similar to Ontario's. In fact, Ottawa's unemployment rate rarely surpassed the provincial average. Moreover, in the early 1990s, Ottawa had a significantly lower unemployment rate than the rest of Ontario. Non-residential construction in Ottawa was responsible for the surge in activity in 2005. In fact, institutional and government construction projects more than tripled, fuelled by projects such as the Canadian War Museum, the new wing of the Royal Ottawa Hospital, major expansions at hospitals and universities, and ongoing renovation at several government buildings. Industrial construction increased by 110% over 2004, while commercial construction dipped by 8.3% and residential activity declined by 23.3%.
However, as the following graph demonstrates, ownership prices have gone up in recent years, both for resale housing and new homes. In 2005, 5,466 houses were built in the City of Ottawa. Of these, 13.4% were affordable to households earning up to $56,800 a year, the 40th income percentile. Generally, affordability improved slightly in 2005 mainly because many new town homes were built.
In the residential resale market, 34.7% of homes sold were priced below $208,000 and were affordable to households at the 40th income percentile.
Relatively low mortgage interest rates have meant that many householders could afford to own their own homes. The slight surge in the condominium market in recent years has also created more affordable ownership options.
Influenced by government structures, much of the city's architecture tends to be formalistic and functional; however, the city is also marked by Romantic and Picturesque styles of architecture such as the Parliament Buildings' gothic revival architecture.
Ottawa's domestic architecture is dominated by single family homes, but also includes smaller numbers of semi-detached houses, rowhouses, and apartment buildings. Many domestic buildings are clad in brick, with small numbers covered in wood, stone, or siding of different materials; variations are common, depending on neighbourhoods and the age of dwellings within them.
The skyline has been controlled by building height restrictions originally implemented to keep Parliament Hill and the Peace Tower at 92.2 m visible from most parts of the city.
Today, several buildings are slightly taller than the Peace Tower, with the tallest on Albert Street being the 29-storey Place de Ville at 112 m .Federal buildings in the National Capital Region are managed by Public Works Canada, while most of the federal land in the region is managed by the National Capital Commission; its control of much undeveloped land gives the NCC a great deal of influence over the city's development.Ottawa is served by a number of airlines that fly into the Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport , as well as two main regional airports Gatineau-Ottawa Executive Airport, and the Ottawa/Carp Airport.
The Rapid bus service network operates all day, 7 days a week, reaching Kanata to the West, Barrhaven to the South-West, Orléans to the East, and South Keys to the South. There are also several night bus routes that cover Line 1's downtown stations while it is shut off for the night, and backup service to downtown while the train is delayed.
Both OC Transpo and the Quebec-based Société de transport de l'Outaouais operate bus services between Ottawa and Gatineau.
OC Transpo also operates a door-to-door bus service for the differently-abled known as ParaTranspo.
Construction was recently completed on the Confederation Line, a 12.5-kilometre light-rail transit line , which includes a 2.5-kilometre tunnel through the downtown area featuring three underground stations. The project broke ground in 2013, and opened in September 2019.A further 30 km and 19 stations will be built by 2023, referred to as the Stage 2 plan. In 2006, the National Capital Commission completed aesthetic enhancements to Confederation Boulevard, a ceremonial route of existing roads linking key attractions on both sides of the Ottawa River.
Ottawa is well served by transportation systems, including railroads that provide frequent passenger service, a good network of expressways, and major roads in and around the metropolitan area. There are also an international airport and two regional airports. Regional mass transit is centred on a system of dedicated bus rapid-transit lines and a light-rail line . The Capital Pathway, a network of more than 130 miles of recreational paths throughout the metropolitan area, serves bicyclists and pedestrians.The Rideau Canal remains a functional canal, though it is used mainly by pleasure craft. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007 in recognition of its unique design and historical significance.
In 2001, the technology sector saw a downturn both in terms of employment and contribution to Ottawa's economy. Over the last year, however, advanced technology has shown signs of renewed growth. Overall, employment in Ottawa increased substantially in the first six months of 2006, and the local unemployment rate is at a low 4.8%, buoyed in part by a surge in non-residential construction.
For three decades, Ottawa has been a global leader in telecommunications technology. Today, Canada’s capital is one of the hottest and most diverse tech hubs in North America. Here’s some of the great events and companies that are a big part of Ottawa’s tech community.
Ottawa's primary employers are the Public Service of Canada and the high-tech industry, although tourism and healthcare also represent increasingly sizeable economic activities. The Federal government is the city's largest employer, employing over 110,000 individuals from the National Capital region.The national headquarters for many federal departments are in Ottawa, particularly throughout Centretown and in the Terrasses de la Chaudière and Place du Portage complexes in Hull. The National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa is the main command centre for the Canadian Armed Forces and hosts the Department of National Defence. The Ottawa area includes CFS Leitrim and the former CFB Rockcliffe. The National Capital Region annually attracts an estimated 7.3 million tourists, who spend about 1.18 billion dollars.
Neighbouring these government buildings in downtown Ottawa is the headquarters of Shopify. The Ottawa tech darling famously expanded from a team of 2 employees in 2004 to more than 4,000 globally. Today more than 850 employees work at the company’s downtown Ottawa headquarters and the company continues to grow. Two years ago, Shopify announced that it planned to hire an additional 2,500 employees in Ottawa alone.
Opportunity for new developers can be found just outside of downtown Ottawa as well. Kanata has long had a reputation for being a tech hub and today the landscape remains promising for new developers.
While it’s great that tech companies are hiring, building a good network as a junior developer in the tech community is also important. Fortunately, Ottawa has plenty of opportunities for virtually any tech niche. Take a quick glance at Meetup.com and you’ll find a well-attended group for nearly any coding language. Beyond meet-up events, there are several spaces where techies can meet and exchange ideas or attend workshops. Co-working spaces such as Bayview Yards, Coworkly, and Impact Hub place a special focus on their tech clients and host events catered toward this audience.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
Ottawa is known as one of the most educated cities in Canada, with over half the population having graduated from college and/or university.Ottawa has the highest per capita concentration of engineers, scientists, and residents with PhDs in Canada.[
The city has two main public universities
- Carleton University was founded in 1942 to meet the needs of returning World War II veterans and later became Ontario's first private, non-denominational college. Over time, Carleton would make the transition to the public university that it is today. In recent years, Carleton has become ranked highly among comprehensive universities in Canada. The university's campus sits between Old Ottawa South and Dow's Lake.
-The University of Ottawa was the first post-secondary institution established in the city in 1848. The university would eventually expand to become the largest English-French bilingual university in the world. It is also a member of the U15, a group of highly respected research-intensive universities in Canada. The university's campus is in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood, just adjacent to the city's downtown core.
Ottawa also has two main public colleges – Algonquin College and La Cité collégiale. It also has two Catholic universities – Dominican University College and Saint Paul University. Other colleges and universities in nearby areas include the University of Quebec en Outaouais, Cégep de l'Outaouais, and Heritage College.
Four main public school boards exist in Ottawa: English, English-Catholic, French, and French-Catholic. The English-language Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is the largest board with 147 schools, followed by the English-Catholic Ottawa Catholic School Board with 85 schools.
The two French-language boards are the French-Catholic Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est with 49 schools, and the French Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario with 37 schools.
Ottawa also has numerous private schools which are not part of a board.
The Ottawa Public Library was created in 1906 as part of the famed Carnegie library system.
The library system had 2.3 million items as of 2008.
In 2016, the populations of the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa–Gatineau census metropolitan area were 934,243 and 1,323,783 respectively. The city had a population density of 334.8/km2 in 2016, while the CMA had a population density of 195.6/km2 . It is the second-largest city in Ontario, fourth-largest city in the country, and the fourth-largest CMA in the country.
Ottawa's median age of 40.1 is both below the provincial and national averages as of 2016. Youths under 15 years constituted 16.7% of the total population in 2016, while those of retirement age made up 15.4%.
Over 20 percent of the city's population is foreign-born, with the most common non-Canadian countries of origin being the United Kingdom , China , and Lebanon . About 6.1% of residents are not Canadian citizens.
Around 65% of Ottawa residents describe themselves as Christian as of 2011, with Catholics accounting for 38.5% of the population and members of Protestant churches 25%. Non-Christian religions are also very well established in Ottawa, the largest being Islam , Hinduism , Buddhism , and Judaism.