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Like many colonial capitals, Ottawa’s birth was highly inorganic. The site was chosen by Queen Victoria as a compromise between Montréal and Toronto, and poof – the city was born. Canadians were initially baffled by her decision; Ottawa was far away from the main colonial strongholds. Many thought the region to be a desolate snowfield, when in fact the Ottawa area was long inhabited by Algonquin, who named the rolling river ‘Kichissippi, ’ or ‘Great River.’

For almost a century, Ottawa functioned as a quiet capital. Then, after WWII, Paris city planner Jacques Greber was charged with the task of giving Ottawa a veritable urban facelift. The master planner gave the city a distinctive European feel, transforming the area into the stunning cityscape of ample common and recreational spaces we see today.