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Downtown Ottawa is filled with beautiful historic buildings and landmarks. As a resident, we sometimes overlook them or take them for granted, but they are always worth admiring and visiting, whether we are entertaining guests, or if we just want to learn more about our amazing city.
Of course, everyone needs to visit the Houses of Parliament at least once. As the national seat of our government, the Gothic revival buildings have dominated the landscape of Centretown since 1876. The Centre Block was destroyed in a fire in 1916 and it was rebuilt with the iconic Peace Tower eleven years later. Aside from visiting the buildings (don’t miss the library and the carillon) walk in the surrounding grounds, where you’ll see 15 statues, the Centennial Flame and the Victoria Tower Bell.
Across the Rideau Canal, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, in winter, the world’s longest skating rink, is the historic Chateau Laurier, where many past Prime Ministers and heads of state have rested. It boasts several excellent restaurants, including one that serves high tea, opulent meeting and dining rooms and beautiful Victorian sunken pool. Step outside and see the stunning War Memorial. Then travel south and you’ll see the Lord Elgin Hotel and Ottawa City Hall, a complex of historic and modern buildings. Beside City Hall on Elgin Street is the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights, often simply called the Human Rights Monument. Also nearby is the newly renovated Shaw Centre, a modern glass structure said to resemble a tulip on its side. Other interesting buildings nearby include Laurier House to the east of the University of Ottawa, and the Supreme Court of Canada, just west of Parliament Hill on Wellington Street.
Rideau Hall, on Sussex Drive, is the residence of the Governor General of Canada. Nearby is 24 Sussex Drive, home of the presiding Prime Minister, and Stornoway, residence of the Leader of the Opposition. West of Centertown is the Dow’s Lake Pavilion, end of the Rideau Canal Skateway and a great place to visit during the Tulip Festival. Lastly, be sure to make a day trip out to the Mackenzie King Estate in Quebec. The grounds are beautiful to walk through and dotted with ruins and gardens… oh, and don’t miss the waterfall!