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Ottawa, Ontario City Info
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Population: Within the city: 323,300. In the metropolitan area: 1.081 million

Elevation: 285 feet

Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (same time as New York City). Daylight saving April-October.

Emergencies: Call 911 for fire, police, or ambulance.









































Weather updates: (613) 998-3439.

Winters in Ottawa are severe. Summers are quite warm with considerable amounts of sunshine. The ground is usually snow-covered from mid-December to mid-March. 8-10 feet of snow are not unusual in an average winter. Periodic thaws keep it from accumulating to that depth, however. The weather can be unpredictable year round, so it is wise to pack a variety of clothing suitable for warm or cool weather in the summer and for extremely cold days and nights in the winter.

Public Holidays:

Jan. 1 New Year’s Day

March or April varies Good Friday

March or April varies Easter Monday

May Third Monday Victoria Day

July 1 Canada Day

August First Monday Civic Holiday

September 1st Monday Labor Day

October 2nd Monday Thanksgiving Day

November 11 Remembrance Day

December 25 Christmas Day

December 26 Boxing Day

Government: Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II is the Queen of Canada and Canada’s head of State. This means that the Queen is the formal head of Canada. The Governor General is the Queen’s representative in Canada. The Queen is also represented in each province by a Lieutenant Governor and by a Commissioner in the territories.

Useful Conversions of weights and measures

1 hectare 2.471 acres

1 inch 2.54 cm

1 ft. 30.48 cm

1 oz. 28.57 grams

1 lb. 0.454 kg

1 cm 0.39 inches

1 meter 3.28 feet / 1.09 yards

1 km 0.62 miles

1 liter 0.26 US gallons

1 inch 2.54 cm

1 foot 0.39 meters

1 yard 0.91 meters

1 mile 1.60 km

1kg 2.2lb

1 gallon 3.78 liters

Currency: The Canadian currency is in dollars. There are one dollar coins called “loonies” because of the loon depicted on the gold colored coin ; two dollar coins with a gold colored center and silver border called “toonies” because they are equal to 2 loonies ; dime; nickel and penny. The paper currency comes in denominations of $5; $10; $20; $50; $100. The present exchange rate is between $1.42 and $1.50 Canadian for every US dollar. Rates vary widely depending on where money is exchanged. Banks give the best rate. The easiest method of securing cash at the best exchange rate is to make withdrawals using a US credit card from the ATM machines found at the major banks and stores. As in the US, some banks charge a fee and a transaction tax, so check with the banks to find the best value. Save remaining Canadian dollars for your next trip as the exchange rate to convert back into US money from Canadian is usually not favorable.

Language: one of Canada's most bilingual communities, with nearly half a million people speaking both English and French

Area Code: The telephone area code for Ottawa is 613; for Hull, 819. When calling from Ottawa to Hull, you don't need to use the area code.

Doctors/Dentists: Check with the hotel front desk or with your consulate for the nearest doctor or dentist.

Embassies/High Commissions: The U.S. Embassy has moved to a large new building on Sussex Drive, north of Rideau Street 613/238-5335). It's expected to be open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm. The U.K. Embassy is at 80 Elgin 613/237-6537). The Australian High Commission is at 50 O'Connor 613/236-4376). And the New Zealand High Commission is at 99 Bank, Suite 727. Unlikely as it may seem, Ireland doesn't have an embassy in Canada. Consulates are primarily in Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver.

Hospital: Ottawa Hospital General Campus, 501 Smythe Rd. 613/737-6111).

Internet Access: You can check on your mail and send messages at The Internet Cafe, 200 Bank St., at Somerset 613/230-9000) Monday to Friday 9:30am to 11pm, Saturday 11am to 11pm, and Sunday 11am to 8pm.

Liquor: The government controls liquor distribution, selling liquor and wine at certain LCBO stores and beer at others. Liquor stores generally open Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm (to 9pm Thurs and Fri). Beer outlets open Monday to Saturday noon to 8pm (also to 9pm Thurs and Fri). The legal drinking age is 19 in Ottawa but 18 in Hull.

Newspapers/Magazines: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune, are sold at Planet News, 143 Sparks St.

Post Office: The main post office is at 59 Sparks St., on Elgin Street 613/844-1545, open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.

Taxes: In Ontario there's an 8% provincial sales tax (PST), a lodging tax of 5%, and a 16% tax on liquor, as well as the national 7% goods-and-services tax (GST). In Québec there's a 7 1/2 % tax on food, liquor, merchandise, and accommodations.

Ottawa is easily accessible by air, rail or road.

Airport: Ottawa's Macdonald-Cartier International Airport is serviced by 16 airlines on a daily basis. Direct flights arrive from all major Canadian and many American cities. Connections can also be made via Montreal and Toronto. Air Canada offers a direct flight from Ottawa to La Guardia Airport in New York City.

The city boasts easy access to rail and bus terminals, located only minutes from downtown, that connect Ottawa to other cities in Canada and the U.S.

Getting Around

Transportation within the city of Ottawa is excellent on foot, by bus, and by bike. The downtown core is very compact and many of the sites and attractions are accessible on foot. Guided sightseeing tours, many of which operate on a schedule with flexible "on-off" privileges, allow visitors to stop and see the attractions of their choice. Sightseeing can be done via a walking tour, on an air-conditioned coach, a motorized trolley or on an authentic British double-decker bus. To experience the city up-close, visitors can rent a bicycle and pedal along Ottawa's designated bike lanes and scenic paths; or, pamper themselves and hire a rickshaw. Boat cruises along the Rideau Canal, Rideau River or Ottawa River are also a good way to see the sights.

The only public transportation is the 130-route bus network operated by the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Transit Commission (OC Transpo). For information about routes, where to buy tickets, etc, call 613/741-4390

DayPass allows unlimited travel on all routes. Exact change, tickets, or the pass is required. You can buy tickets at 300 retail outlets, such as newsstands and PharmaPlus. All routes converge downtown at the Rideau Center; they begin to close down at midnight, and there is no service 1 to 6am.

In Hull, buses are operated by the Société de Transport l'Outaouais 819/ 770-3242). Transfers between the two systems are obtainable when you pay your fare on the bus.

You can hail a taxi on the street, but you'll find one more readily in front of major hotels and important buildings. Most drivers accept credit cards, usually MasterCard or Visa.

You probably won't want to drive in Ottawa, but you may want to rent a car to explore the environs or continue elsewhere in Canada.

When driving, remember that Ontario has a compulsory seat-belt requirement.

Cars can turn right after stopping at a red light in Ottawa, but not across the river in Hull, Québec. The Queensway (Route 417) cuts right across the city, adding to the confusion. The downtown entrance to the highway is at O'Connor Street. Exit the highway at Kent Street for downtown.

By car:

Driving from New York, take Interstate 81 to Canada's Route 401 east to Route 16 north. From the west, come via Toronto, taking Route 401 east to Route 16 north. From Montréal, take Route 17 to Route 417.

By Train

VIA Rail trains arrive at the station at 200 Tremblay Rd., at boulevard St-Laurent, in the southeastern area of the city. From here buses connect to downtown. For rail information, contact VIA Rail Canada at tel. 613/244-1660 or call your local Amtrak office.

By Plane:

Ottawa International Airport is about 20 minutes south of the city. A shuttle bus (613/736-9993) operates between the airport and downtown. A taxi from the airport to the city costs more.

By Bus

Buses arrive at the Central Bus Station, 265 Catherine St., between Kent and Lyon. Voyageur Colonial (613/238-5900) provides service from other Canadian cities and the United States.

Bike rental Rent-a-Bike, Mackenzie Ave, behind Château Laurier (April to Thanksgiving daily 9am-6pm; 241-4140).

Bus information Local: STO (Hull 770-3242); OC Transpo (Ottawa 741-4390). Long-distance: Voyageur Colonial and Greyhound (238-5900).

Dental emergencies Ottawa (523-4185); Hull (568-3368).

Hospitals Ottawa General, 501 Smythe Rd (737-7777; bus #85).

Train information (244-8289).

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