Timeline of Ottawa history With the draining of the Champlain Sea around ten thousand years ago, the Ottawa Valley became habitable. The Ottawa river valley has archaeological sites with arrow heads, pottery, and stone tools.
Three major rivers meet within Ottawa, making it an important trade and travel area for thousands of years. The building of the canal attracted many land speculators to the area.
The first maps of the area used the word Ottawa, derived from the Algonquin word adawe "to trade", used in reference to the area's importance to First Nations traders , to name the river. Philemon Wright , a New Englander , created the first settlement in the area on 7 March on the north side of the river, across from the present day city of Ottawa in Hull.
Wright pioneered the Ottawa Valley timber trade soon to be the area's most significant economic activity by transporting timber by river from the Ottawa Valley to Quebec City.
The canal's military purpose was to provide a secure route between Montreal and Kingston on Lake Ontario , bypassing a particularly vulnerable stretch of the St. Lawrence River bordering the state of New York that had left re-supply ships bound for southwestern Ontario easily exposed to enemy fire during the War of He also laid out the streets of the town and created two distinct neighbourhoods named "Upper Town" west of the canal and " Lower Town " east of the canal.
Two years prior, Queen Victoria selected the city as the permanent capital of the Province of Canada. On New Year's Eve , Queen Victoria , as a symbolic and political gesture, was presented with the responsibility of selecting a location for the permanent capital of the Province of Canada. Macdonald had assigned this selection process to the Executive Branch of the Government, as previous attempts to arrive at a consensus had ended in deadlock. Additionally, despite Ottawa's regional isolation it had seasonal water transportation access to Montreal over the Ottawa River and to Kingston via the Rideau Waterway.
By it also had a modern all season Bytown and Prescott Railway that carried passengers, lumber and supplies the kilometres to Prescott on the Saint Lawrence River and beyond.
Ottawa was the only settlement of any substantial size that was already directly on the border of French populated former Lower Canada and English populated former Upper Canada thus additionally making the selection an important political compromise.
Starting in the s, entrepreneurs known as lumber barons began to build large sawmills, which became some of the largest mills in the world. The Library of Parliament and Parliament Hill landscaping would not be completed until Lebreton Flats after the Hull—Ottawa fire. The fire destroyed one-fifth of Ottawa, and two-thirds of neighbouring Hull , Quebec. The Hull—Ottawa fire of destroyed two-thirds of Hull, including 40 per cent of its residential buildings and most of its largest employers along the waterfront.
It was redeveloped as a ceremonial centre in as part of the City Beautiful Movement and became the site of the National War Memorial in and designated a National Historic Site in The Queensway looking west, overlooking the half completed Carling Avenue interchange in Construction of the Queensway was driven by the Greber Plan. Ottawa's former industrial appearance was vastly altered by the Greber Plan.
Prime Minister Mackenzie King hired French architect-planner Jacques Greber to design an urban plan for managing development in the National Capital Region, to make it more aesthetically pleasing and more befitting a location for Canada's political centre. This new location was close to Ottawa's first — and second — City Halls. This new city hall complex also contained an adjacent 19th century restored heritage building formerly known as the Ottawa Normal School.
Diefenbaker Building was Ottawa's fourth city hall. Opened in , it was the seat of local government until the City Council moved to its present location in From the s until the s, the National Capital Region experienced a building boom,  which was followed by large growth in the high-tech industry during the s and s. By the s, Bell Northern Research later Nortel employed thousands, and large federally assisted research facilities such as the National Research Council contributed to an eventual technology boom.
The early adopters led to offshoot companies such as Newbridge Networks , Mitel and Corel. Ottawa's city limits had been increasing over the years, but it acquired the most territory on 1 January , when it amalgamated all the municipalities of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa—Carleton into one single city. The city's growth led to strains on the public transit system and on road bridges. On 15 October , a diesel-powered light rail transit LRT line was introduced on an experimental basis.
Known today as the Trillium Line , it was dubbed the O-Train and connected downtown Ottawa to the southern suburbs via Carleton University. The decision to extend the O-Train, and to replace it with an electric light rail system was a major issue in the municipal elections where Chiarelli was defeated by businessman Larry O'Brien. After O'Brien's election transit plans were changed to establish a series of light rail stations from the east side of the city into downtown, and for using a tunnel through the downtown core.
Jim Watson , the last mayor of Ottawa prior to amalgamation, was re-elected in the election. Gatineau may be seen in the background, across the river. Across the canal to the west lies Centretown and Downtown Ottawa, which is the city's financial and commercial hub and home to the Parliament of Canada and numerous federal government department headquarters, notably the Privy Council Office.
Examples include the Kipawa earthquake ,  a magnitude It was able to bypass the unnavigable sections of the Cataraqui and Rideau rivers and various small lakes along the waterway due to flooding techniques and the construction of 47 water transport locks.
The Rideau River got its name from early French explorers who thought that the waterfalls located at the point where the Rideau River empties into the Ottawa River resembled a 'curtain'. Hence they began naming the falls and river 'rideau' which is the French equivalent of the English word for curtain.
One federal crown corporation, the National Capital Commission, or NCC, has significant land holdings in both cities, including sites of historical and touristic importance. The NCC, through its responsibility for planning and development of these lands, is an important contributor to both cities. Around the main urban area is an extensive greenbelt , administered by the NCC for conservation and leisure, and comprising mostly forest, farmland and marshland.
Snow and ice is common for the region during the winter. Summers are warm and humid in Ottawa. Snow and ice are dominant during the winter season.