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Ottawa City Guide

Updated: November 10th, 2022

This olden-style city was established in the mid-1600s, starting with the Algonquin First Nation (Native Americans) who settled in the Ottawa River valley. This tribe was known as the Ottawa, which explains where the city derives its name.

About Ottawa

Interestingly, the city's name (Ottawa) stems from an Algonquin word that means "to trade" - and the tribe was well-renowned in the local fur trade. Explorers and fur traders often used the river, and this became evident during the Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815) when Britain's need for shipbuilding timber increased.

Eventually, because of the war in 1812 between Britain and the United States, the Rideau River was to be turned into an alternate transportation route and the traffic was diverted up the Ottawa River Chaudière Falls, and back down to Kingston (Ontario, Canada on the north shore). Furthermore, the idea of utilizing the river as an alternate transportation route is vital to the city's growth today.

In this Ottawa city guide, we will unravel the ins and outs of Ottawa. Whether you're traveling or planning to live and work in this stunning city, turn on the switches and read further!

Where is Ottawa on the Map?

Where is Ottawa on the map?

As the capital city of Canada, Ottawa is located in southeastern Ontario on the south bank of the iconic Ottawa River. The city offers its unique blend of culture and style, which makes it a must-see Canadian tourist destination. As the fourth largest city in Canada, it is also the political and technological hub of the country while boasting a low crime rate and low unemployment rate with rapid technological advancements.

This spectacular city borders Quebec and Gatineau while forming the country's Capital Region. Ottawa is mainly an urban area with unique villages and countryside, offering an amalgamation of housing, industry and recreation.

Climate and Weather in Ottawa

If you travel in and around Ottawa, you can expect warm and partly cloudy long summer days, and in winter, you will experience extreme cold, snowy and mostly cloudy days. According to Weather Spark, the temperature may range from -14°C to 27°C and is rarely below -13°F (-25°C) or above (31°C).

During the winter, some areas in Ottawa, such as the Rideau Canal, transform into a winter wonderland, becoming the world's largest skating rink. Meanwhile, other areas become snow playgrounds, showcasing sculptures and other winter activities citizens can enjoy.

While Ottawa is fantastic to visit during the winter, the city is equally great to explore when temperatures start to rise between March and May, with special events taking the forefront of the city.

Work and Jobs in Ottawa

It's one thing targeting jobs in Canada that are in demand, but it's a whole new ball game ensuring that you target jobs specific to the city or province you choose to settle in. According to Canada Job Bank, below are the current in-demand jobs in Ottawa:

Administrative assistant

  • Salary: $27.00 hourly for 35 to 40 hours per week
  • Job Bank #2239629

Tour operator

  • Salary: $20.00 to $30.00 hourly for 37.5 hours per week
  • Job Bank #2236983

Baker

  • Salary: $20.00 to $24.00 hourly for 36 to 44 hours per week
  • Job Bank #2238001

Room attendant

  • Salary: $20.00 to $22.00 hourly for 8 to 30 hours per week
  • Job Bank #2235638

Community and social services worker

  • Salary: $50,000 to $55,000 annually for 35 hours per week
  • Job Bank #2233958

Land survey technician

  • Salary: $41.98 hourly for 40 hours per week
  • Job Bank #2235193

Explore the current active jobs in Ottawa as a starting point.

If you would like guidance about how to immigrate after securing your job offer, simply contact our immigration experts to advise you throughout the process. Note that our immigration experts do not assist in finding jobs but can advise you throughout the immigration process.

Cost of Living in Ottawa

If you plan to live in Ottawa, you must plan your budget and get an idea of your expenses. As per the data on Numbeo, we break down the factors that will summarize the cost of living in Ottawa. Below is an overview of the cost of living in Ottawa, Canada:

Category Average monthly costs
A family of four estimated monthly costs. $4,508.06 excluding rent.
A single person's estimated monthly costs Approximately $1,240.64, excluding rent.
Mortgage Interest Rate Yearly, for 20 years fixed-rate: 4.93%
Apartment (one bedroom) in City Centre $1,700.00 and apartment (one bedroom) outside of Centre: $1,347.06
Childcare - Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, monthly for one child $1,311.11
International Primary School, yearly for one child $19,250.00
Basic utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment $162.68

Source: Numbeo

Bear in mind that the values below are subject to change since the economy constantly evolves, influencing living expenses.

Neighborhoods in Ottawa

West Carleton-March

This rural area is located in the far western regions of Ottawa and comprises scattered small villages and communities. It is precisely in this region that you can settle into a peaceful life and own a house on a large plot of land far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. With the lowest crime rate in Ottawa, West Carleton March is the ideal place to settle with your family as it also has an exceptional secondary school to enroll your children into.

Little Italy

Situated in Centretown West and the ethnic centre of Ottawa's Italian community, this vibrant neighborhood is rich in culture. Home to a large community of Italians, this neighborhood coined its name due to the large influx of immigrants who settled here following World War II.

This vibrant business and residential area has local dining, shopping and entertainment venues influenced by cultures from all over the world, including Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Philippino, Spanish, Lebanese, French and Middle Eastern.

Kanata North

If the previous neighborhood was rural, this one is the opposite. Kanata is a fast-growing suburban area that houses a few 4 million square feet of commercial space on 556 acres. In Kanata, you'll find many large corporations and a large shopping centre with many other entertainment venues. Though downtown traffic may be a little thick and commuting takes an hour, Kanata is a commercial hub and central to access the CBD.

Byward Market

The Byward Market is the ultimate tourist destination to visit in Ottawa. Found in a district in Lower Town Ottawa, the population in this area was recorded to be 3,063 in the last census. Byward Market is filled with many eclectic shops, restaurants and boutiques to shop for on-trend purchases on your travels. The market also has a fresh goods, flowers and outdoor artisan section where you can revel in authentic Canadian produce.

Transportation in Ottawa

Whether you're travelling or settling in Ottawa, you must know how to get around the city to enjoy it to its full potential. We breakdown some of the transportation methods you can utilize in Ottawa below:

O-Train rail

There are two lines for this rail service:

  • 1. Confederation Line: This is an electric light rail line with frequent downtown service and connects to the Trillium line at Bayview station.
  • 2. Trillium Line: The line is a diesel-run line, which runs north-south between Greenboro and Bayview and is less frequent than the Confederation line.

Below are the hours at which the O-Train runs:

  • 5 a.m. to 1 a.m Monday – Thursday;
  • 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday;
  • 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday; and
  • 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays and Holidays.

The Ottawa Bus Service

The service includes various types of buses, which connect you to O-Train stations. These buses run 24 hours a day throughout the week, and each bus route, such as Rapid Routes, Frequent Routes, Local Routes and Connexion Routes, serves a different purpose.

Para Transpo

This service is a shared-ride service for people with disabilities, which picks you up in front of your home, and individuals can use their monthly transit pass to pay for this service.

Things to do in Ottawa

Summer in Ottawa

From the largest ice rink in the world, where the Rideau Canal transforms into a winter wonderland, to the Haunted Walk of Ottawa, where spooky thrills await the unwary, Ottawa boasts a wealth of fun things to do. In addition, Ottawa is home to Parliament Hill- the beautiful Gothic-style structures overlook the Ottawa River. So if visiting Canada is on your bucket list, explore the scenic city.

Here are the top 10 must-see places and things to do in Ottawa.

1. Skate on the Largest Skating Rink

Be immersed in the winter activities and enjoy the Rideau Canal, which transforms into the largest outdoor skating rink during the frosty winter. Skating through the heart of Ottawa is a fun activity enjoyed by families and couples, plus it's a unique way to explore the city. Don't miss out on this seasonal activity that promises loads of fun.

2. Shop to your Heart's Content

Indulge all your senses at one destination when you visit the ByWard Market. The market is every foodie's dream come true. You can eat at the best restaurants, which offer a variety of cuisines to choose from. You may even be lucky enough to be entertained by an up-and-coming band while you dine. You can also purchase the freshest foods and baked goods Ottawa offers. The market will always be alive with activity whether you go during the day or night.

3. Get Spooked

The Haunted Walk of Ottawa is not your typical walking tour. Instead, the 90-minute tour of your choice leads you to Ottawa's most haunted buildings, like the old Carleton County Jail or the spooky Bytown Museum.

The tour guide will share some chilling ghost stories with your group, and you will also receive a special limited edition Haunted Walk flashlight for the event.

4. Explore Canadian Fauna and Flora under one Roof

As the second largest country in the world, Canada doesn't have a shortage of animals and plants. To ensure you don't miss out on the natural world of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Nature houses an expansive nature art collection, zoology collection, fossil collection and a geological collection.

The interactive design of the Museum will make you feel like you've entered the animal kingdom. Walk amongst live butterflies, travel back to the dinosaur age and see a real whale skeleton. Whatever you can imagine, the Canadian Museum of Nature has it!

5. Discover the Political Heart Of Canada

Castle in Ottawa

Curious to know what sets Canada apart from the rest? Can such a dynamic and multicultural state truly exist? Make your way to Parliament Hill and take a free tour of Parliament Hill's Gothic Revival architecture. You will discover the history and art of this great nation. Learn how Canada's parliament functions daily and steps through the senate, house of commons and library.

If you want to visit Canada, do so over the festive period. You wouldn't want to miss the Parliament building covered in hundreds and thousands of lights for Christmas and the many festivities.

6. Celebrate Winter- Canadian Style

The first three weekends of February in Ottawa are marked for winter fun. The Winterlude festival is the biggest winter festival in Ottawa, and people from all walks of life partake in the celebrations each year.

Winterwonderland in Ottawa

What to expect? Dragon boat races, ice skating on Rideau Canal, winter playground, fantastic ice carvings from artists worldwide, Winterlude mascots and delicious frozen Maple syrup candy, to mention a few.

7. A Must-Have Ottawa Snack

If deep-fried, doughy goodness is what you're after, you must try a Beaver Tail. The deep-fried pastry resembles a beaver tail and is covered in sweet toppings. You can choose from toppings like cinnamon sugar with a zest of lemon, Nutella, bananas, crumbled Oreos and plenty more sweet things. If you only eat one thing in Ottawa, let it be a Beaver Tail that's the perfect snack during cold weather.

8. Have A Picnic at Major Hill Park

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, go to the serene oasis of Major Hill Park in Ottawa. The park is the perfect spot to enjoy a light picnic lunch while overlooking the stunning views of Ottawa Locks on the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River and the Parliament Buildings. Then, take a stroll through the park's winding pathways and learn about its history through a series of interpretation panels.

9. Put a Little Theatre in your Life

Whether you're a fan of contemporary or classic plays, there's something for everyone at the Ottawa Little Theatre (OLT). The theatre is a vital part of Ottawa's arts community- all staff members are volunteers passionate about performing and entertaining people from across Canada and visitors from across the globe.

10. Step Back Into Canadian History

Prepare to be enlightened by Canada's story told through the diverse experiences and perspectives of real people who lived it. The Canadian History Museum illuminates the earliest known human habitation to the present day.

The Museum features stories from coast to coast and dark chapters from Canada's past. If you want to live in Canada and become a Canadian citizen, ensure you make a trip to the History Museum to learn all you need to know about the world's most loved country in a fun and exciting way.

Education in Ottawa

Ottawa recognizes the importance of a good education and delivers this from the primary level to university and post-graduation. In this, Canada has many institutions that offer highly integrated and informative programs to advance any individual seeking to improve their knowledge.

Elementary

Ottawa's kindergarten and primary school sectors offer an exceptional education for those looking to migrate with their families. In addition, a public school system is a good option for immigrants as it offers a diverse learning environment for your child.

Another advantage of public schooling is that it comes at no cost and only requires a residence permit. In addition, Ottawa's primary language of instruction is English and French, which is also popular in this region, allowing you to brush up on your and the family's command of both languages before you enroll your children in Canadian schools. The curriculum for primary schools is usually prescribed nationally, so the standard of education is maintained throughout the city.

Ottawa has recently implemented an all-day program for kindergarten to keep your children stimulated and well-looked after while they attend work. After kindergarten, all children aged six and over attend primary school to high school and then graduate at 18 from high school.

Ottawa also offers a host of private learning institutions, which include faith-based facilities or international schools where your children receive specialized education. Unfortunately, there are only three international schools in Ottawa: Academie de la Capitale International School, Elmwood Academy and Ashbury College, all of which follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum.

University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa, commonly known as UOttawa, is the world's largest bilingual (English-French) university. With achievements in many faculties, such as social sciences, health, science and the humanities, UOttawa is a dynamic space for you to learn and grow. In addition, this university has the largest Law school in Canada and offers $60 million per year in student scholarships and bursaries.

The university strives to instill valuable ethical and civic responsibilities in its graduates. Furthermore, UOttawa has more than 450 programs in 10 faculties, over 40,000 students, 5,000 employees, and 180,000 alumni.

Unique Immigration Visas to Ottawa

Let's look at the most commonly preferred immigration pathways that aim to accommodate individuals' various needs and circumstances.

Express Entry System

This is a points-driven system designed to manage immigration applications. The system is known for yielding quick immigration results and comprises three versatile immigration programs under the Express Entry umbrella. These are as follows:

  • 1. Canadian Experience Class
  • 2. Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • 3. Federal Skilled Trades Program

For more information on the Express Entry system, find our resource on how you can get the most out of your Express Entry profile.

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

This province-driven program for skilled workers enables you to apply as a skilled worker or international student who wants to live and work in Canada. The province allows you to target a province that falls short of your skills and apply for a job in that province. Skilled workers may have to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from their Canadian employees.

Feel free to learn more about the Provincial Nominee Program here. Alternatively, see how you can go from temporary resident (TR) to permanent resident (PR).

Move to Ottawa, Canada - The Application Process

All immigration programs will require you to follow these steps if you are applying for permanent residence in Canada:

  • Step 1: Check if you meet the program criteria (and the job requirements) - you can do this with our eligibility assessment.
  • Step 2: Check your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) Score - under the Express Entry system or other points-driven programs
  • Step 3: Gather your documents beforehand and have them ready
  • Step 4: Create your online Express Entry profile
  • Step 5: Apply to the most suitable program, pay the application fees and submit your application

Feel free to contact our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) to assist and advise you throughout your immigration applications and journey.

Pros and Cons in Ottawa

Pros

  • High average salaries
  • Abundance of job opportunities
  • Plenty of neighborhoods to choose from
  • Great outdoor activities to enjoy

Cons

  • Competitive job market
  • Weather can be challenging
  • Some jobs require candidates to be bilingual

FAQs

What is the Easiest Program to Migrate to Canada?

The Express Entry system is well-renowned for yielding quick immigration results. Its three highly versatile immigration programs, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Program and Federal Skilled Trades Program, accommodate individuals' various needs and circumstances. The Provincial Nomination Program (PNP), however, is ideal for skilled workers looking to immigrate to a Canadian province with a skill shortage. We advise that immigrants conduct the necessary research on a Canadian province before settling.

Is Ottawa good for immigrants?

Different people have different needs, so Ottawa can be the ideal place depending on what you're looking for in a province or city. With a strong economy and decent salary income, you can set yourself up for a long-term sustainable lifestyle in Ottawa.

Do I need to speak French to live in Ottawa?

Speaking French is not a requirement. However, you must take the International English Language Training System (IELTS) in either English or French and ensure you meet the necessary language requirements. Find out more here.

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