Set on the south bank of the Ottawa River and overlooked by the distant Gatineau Hills, the bustling city of Ottawa is Canada's charming capital. The region was first explored by Europeans in about 1610. It was generally ignored and dismissed as a desolate snowfield, even though the Algonquin people had long inhabited the area. In the 1850s Queen Victoria was asked to choose a capital for the Province of Canada, and she chose Ottawa.
Many were baffled by the Queen's decision to begin with, as Ottawa was far from many of the other colonial strongholds. But the choice soon began to make sense; the city was easily defensible and still had fantastic transportation opportunities thanks to its riverside location. The popular city was then given additional design work by Parisian Jacques Greber, who gave Ottawa a colonial European feel - with wide boulevards and open recreational spaces. Ottawa is now a fantastic city to explore, with an assortment of state-of-the-art museums and scenic parks.