Ottawa, Canada’s Capital, sits on the border between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in central Canada. It was made capital of the British colonial Province of Canada in 1857. In the 20th century, a much-larger Capital region was created to serve as a frame for Canada’s Capital. Since 1969, Ottawa and Gatineau (two cities that face each other across the broad Ottawa River) and the surrounding urban and rural communities have been formally recognized as Canada’s Capital Region. The centre of the Region is the area known as Parliament Hill, where neo-gothic stone buildings and the spire of the Peace Tower rise from the cliffs overlooking the Ottawa River. The Centre Block of Parliament is the heart of Canadian political life, housing the Senate, House of Commons and the impressive Library of Parliament. The central tower, the Peace Tower, houses a 53-bell carillon, a huge clock and the memorial chamber commemorating Canada's war dead. In truth, Ottawa is neither grandiose nor tedious, but a lively cosmopolitan city of 330,000 with a clutch of outstanding national museums , a pleasant riverside setting and superb cultural facilities like the National Arts Centre, plus acres of parks and gardens and miles of bicycle and jogging paths. It also possesses lots of good hotels and B&Bs and a busy café-bar and restaurant scene - enough to keep the most diligent sightseer going for a day or three, maybe more. Here too, for once in English-speaking Ontario, Canada's bilingual laws make sense: Québec's Hull is just across the river and on the streets of Ottawa you'll hear as much French as English. The capital of the second biggest country on the planet, Ottawa struggles with its reputation as a bureaucratic labyrinth of little charm and character. The problem is that many Canadians who aren't federal employees - and even some who are - blame the city for all the country's woes. All too aware of this, the Canadian government have spent lashings of dollars to turn Ottawa into "a city of urban grace in which all Canadians can take pride" - so goes the promotional literature, but predictably this very investment is often resented. Furthermore, the hostility is deeply rooted, dating back as far as 1857 when Queen Victoria, inspired by some genteel watercolours, declared Ottawa the capital, leaving Montréal and Toronto smarting at their rebuff.
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