Bytown Museum picture
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1 Canal Lane

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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

When it comes to brushing up on Ottawa's history, there's no better place than the Bytown Museum. Housed in what was once the commissariat for food and materials during the construction of the Rideau Canal, Ottawa's oldest stone building now pays tribute to the city's canal builder, Lieutenant-Colonel John By. Exhibits feature artifacts from early Ottawa formerly known as Bytown including period rooms and household items from the late 19th century.

Recent visitors said though Bytown is small, it's well worth a look. Other veteran tourists strongly recommended renting an audio guide (offered by the museum at no additional cost) to better understand the exhibits.

Overlooking the Rideau Canal locks, the Bytown Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer and Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the winter. The museum is open until 8 p.m. every Thursday, offering free entry beginning at 5 p.m. Admission costs CA$6.50  (about $5) for adults and CA$3 (around $2.25) for children. For more information, check out the museum' official website.

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#1 Rideau Canal

Snaking its way through the center of Ottawa, the Rideau Canal is one of the city's most historic attractions. This 125-mile waterway was originally constructed between 1826 and 1832 to create a secure supply and communications route between Montreal, Québec, and Kingston, Ontario roughly 120 miles southwest of the capital. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the city's most beloved features.

During the summer, you'll find the Rideau Canal filled with boats (both private and commercial) and the paved pathways surrounding it crowded with walkers, runners and bicyclists. If you'd like to tour the canal by boat, consider signing up for a trip with Rideau Canal Cruises. Cruises, which take visitors from Chateau Laurier to Dow's Lake (round trip), typically last 90 minutes and take visitors past nearly 30 sights along the canal. You can also borrow a bike from RentABike for CA$10 (around $8) an hour. As the temperatures begin to drop, the canal transforms into the world's largest skating rink, spanning 4.8 miles and featuring a surface area equivalent to 90 Olympic-sized hockey rinks. It's also lined with stands selling hot chocolate and soup, as well as heated huts in case you need a break from the cold.

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