As Canada’s Capital, Ottawa is home to many objects and artifacts that come from all across the country; from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia and beyond. In many ways, Ottawa is where all points of the country meet.
So if you’re a Canadian looking for a connection to your home province in Ottawa, chances are that you’ll find it. And particularly, if you’re from somewhere in Ontario, you’re in luck!
Ontario is our featured province for the month of March! One of Canada’s largest provinces, Ontario is known for its luscious greenery and changing landscape, which borders the famous Hudson’s Bay to the north and the United States to the south. According to the provincial government, the word ‘Ontario’ comes from an Iroquois word meaning beautiful water, beautiful lake or big body of water. Discover a few treasures that are housed in Ottawa and that come from Ontario itself!
Canadian Museum of History:
- Here, you will find a collection of art by Norval Morrisseau. Born in Greenstone, Ont., Morrisseau is one of Canada’s most celebrated Aboriginal artists!
At the museum, you’ll find more than 130 pieces of art that reflect Morrisseau’s perceptions of Ojibwa traditions and modern realities. A Separate Reality, one of Morrisseau’s important large-scale paintings, can also be found in the museum’s First Peoples Hall. The Canadian Museum of History – Canada’s most visited museum – holds the world’s largest public collection of Morrisseau’s work. And just beside the First Peoples Hall, you’ll find the impressive Grand Hall, which is home to the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles!
- In the Canadian Children’s Museum (located within the Museum of History), you’ll find the Forster dollhouse.
Called a “vintage masterpiece” by the museum, this detailed dollhouse was built in 1921 by the Forster family who immigrated to Canada from Ireland and settled in Hamilton, Ont. According to the museum, visitors of all ages are delighted by the dollhouse’s incredibly detailed furniture and other household items.
Canadian Museum of Nature:
Here, in addition to thousands of specimens, you’ll also find a few live animals including insects, reptiles and amphibians!
- In the Water Gallery’s freshwater section, you’ll find some rare spotted turtles, which are named after their distinctive yellow spots. According to the museum, in the wild, this species of turtle can be found in the marshes, bogs and wetlands of southern Ontario. But the museum adds that due to habitat loss and the collection of turtles for the pet trade, this rare turtle has been placed on the endangered list by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
- Also in the serene Water Gallery, just across from the spotted turtles, you’ll find the museum’s 4,500-litre freshwater fish tank. This tank is home to a number of live fish species that are commonly found in eastern Ontario.
Canada Agriculture and Food Museum:
- Visit the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum – the only working farm in a capital city in the world – and see the Rideau-Arcott sheep, which were developed right here in Ottawa, Ont.!
According to the museum, these special sheep have white bodies with a little bit of brown on their faces and legs. These sheep, the museum adds, were meant to be prolific and ewes often produce triplets.
- At this museum, you can also learn about how honey is made. In the Taking Care of Beesness exhibit, you’ll learn about how bees produce this delicious nectar and also, how it’s harvested by a beekeeper with special tools. This exhibit is also home to a beehive as well as honey from every province in Canada.
Canadian War Museum:
- Lieutenant-Colonel W.A. ‘Billy’ Bishop artifacts: You’ll find several artifacts at the War Museum related to one of the British Empire’s premier fighter aces. From Owen Sound, Ont., Bishop is credited with 72 enemy kills during his wartime career. At the museum, you’ll find a Newport 17 Aircraft propeller and a Lewis machine-gun, both of which would have been used by Bishop during the war. You can see these artifacts in Gallery 2 at the museum.
- Supreme Chief of North America Headdress: According to the War Museum, this headdress belonged to Corporal Francis Pegahmagabow. From Parry Island, Ont., Pegahmagabow was Ojibwa and is to this day, the most decorated First Peoples soldier in Canadian Military history. Pegahmagabow joined the military in August 1914 and served until the end of the First World War. You can see these artifacts in Gallery 2 at the museum.
And though there are no related artifacts on display at the Canadian War Museum presently, it’s still worth mentioning that John McCrae, the author of the famous wartime poem In Flanders Fields, was from Guelph, Ont.
Further, McCrae wrote the timeless verses to comfort himself after the burial of his close friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, a member of the Hull-based (now Gatineau, Québec) Zion Presbyterian Church, who died at the Second Battle of Ypres on May 2, 1915.
National Gallery of Canada:
- To mark Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, the National Gallery will open its re-envisioned Canadian Galleries. In these new areas, Inuit art, Aboriginal art as well as contemporary art will be presented in a chronological manner leading up to 2017.
Did you know that two Group of Seven members were from Ontario? Franklin Carmichael was from Orillia and Lawren Harris was from Brantford. And not officially part of the Group of Seven as he passed away in a canoeing accident before the group was recognized, notable artist Tom Thomson was from Claremont, Ont.
If you have time, opt to visit Parliament Hill and take a guided tour of Centre Block, which is home to the iconic Peace Tower. On the guided tour, you’ll learn about how every province is represented in Parliament, including Ontario. There are some lovely stone carvings and interesting facts to discover! Free, public guided tours are available daily, but these are subject to parliamentary activity.
Just outside of Centre Block, near Wellington Street, you’ll find Ottawa’s famous Centennial Flame. This bubbling fountain with its ever-burning fire commemorates Canada’s hundredth anniversary as a Confederation. On it, most of Canada’s provinces are represented, including Ontario. Missing from the Flame is Nunavut, as it only joined Canada on April 1, 1999. This monument is also an iconic location to take a photo.
These are only some of the many treasures that can be found in Canada’s Capital. There are many more things to see and do, as well as more museums to discover such as the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canada Science and Technology Museum (which will reopen in mid-November 2017).
There will also be more artifacts and new exhibits to discover as Ottawa gears up to celebrate Canada’s big 150th anniversary in 2017! If there’s anywhere you’ll want to be in Canada in 2017, it’s Ottawa – specially on July 1. For more information on what’s going on now and on plans being made for Canada’s big birthday, browse Ottawa Tourism’s 2017 website section.