When did Ottawa become the capital of Canada?
The symbolic or iconic role of the city of Ottawa is apparent in virtually every countrywide news telecast. Once you visit Canada, Ottawa is among the most famed cities for the gray austere stones of Gothic-style structures along Parliament Hill and the characteristic propelling central tower-which is a memorial, dedicated to the WWI Canadian heroes whose sacrifices greatly assisted the consolidation of the national identity of Canada. But how many know how Ottawa became a capital city?
Establishing a capital
Bytown as was then known officially attained town status in January 1850. Later it was renamed Ottawa (derived from a common phrase “Odawa” meaning “Traders”) in 1855 when it officially became a city. As its population expanded, so did subsequent employment opportunities not to mention an assortment of religious and public institutions. Accordingly, Ottawa finally attained the much needed social stability after years of religious, political and ethnic unrests.
Ottawa becomes national capital
For many decades, the Canadian government was in a steady flux state, assuming temporary abodes in cities like Kingston, Montreal, and Toronto (York). However, in the year 1857, Ottawa was christened as the capital of Canada by the head of the British Monarch, Queen Victoria creating a permanent governance residence on the modern Parliament Hill.
Story of Ottawa
Its thriving lumber industry, picturesque hilltop setting along Ottawa River and its geographical positioning placed Ottawa in contention as a permanent residence for the national government that still required a permanent spot.
Sir Edmund, the then Governor General wrote to the Queen outlining all the virtues of this town and she in return (Queen Victoria) replied proclaiming Ottawa as the capital and surprisingly on the final day of the year 1857. The queen was requested to select a capital for Canada, which by then comprised of two colonies, mainly, Ontario and Quebec and there is an interesting account that she just stuck a simple hatpin into one map, between Montreal and Toronto. Another account explains her settling on Ottawa on basis of her liking landscape paintings she had earlier seen of the region.
At that time, this region was a small and simple logging town along the backwoods which made her selection seem somewhat arbitrary to a big number of Canadians then since Montreal, Toronto and Quebec which were deemed better placed and more economically advanced were also in contention. However, the strongest reason was simply that Ottawa was neither Quebec not Toronto nor Montreal.
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Why it was selected
One of the chief reasons for the selection of Ottawa as Canada’s capital was because of its strategic location. Not only was it subsequently fairly interior and well far from obvious American threat, It was also simultaneously being linked with major waterways all thanks to the characteristic Rideau Canal.
The location of this city also collectively pulled together diverse Lower and Upper Canadian cultures and was already home to well-defined ethnicities and religions.