If you ask me and other Ottawans about what we love about the city, you can expect many of us to mention its landmarks.
The capital is simply filled to the brim with amazing attractions that you can visit, and it’s one of the reasons I love this place so much.
Among Ottawa’s attractions, one that I consider being especially important is Major’s Hill Park. It’s a place filled with so much history and awesome sights that I consider it a must-visit place for anyone, local or tourist.
In this place lies a monument that honors one of Ottawa’s most important figureheads. I think I’ve gotten you interested in visiting the park, so let me give you a few things you can do once you get there.
A Brief History of Major’s Hill Park
Major’s Hill Park is still a popular green space in the heart of Ottawa. It’s not only popular with us but also with tourists thanks to its natural beauty, panoramic views, and historical significance.
It provides a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the city and serves as a focal point for various community events and celebrations.
Major’s Hill Park started out its life as the homeland of the indigenous Algonquin people. They used the area for a variety of activities, such as hunting and trading.
When the early nineteenth century started, the British military established a strategic outpost on Barrack Hill. The military presence of the British would remain until the 1850s when the soldiers would be recalled back to their country.
Following the end of military use in Barrack Hill, the area was converted into a public park. It would be officially named Major’s Hill Park after Major Daniel Bolton in 1874.
Major’s Hill Park was designed in the English picturesque style, with rolling lawns, mature trees, and picturesque pathways. Major’s Hill Park Pavilion, the park’s central pavilion, was built in 1903 and has since become an iconic landmark.
Throughout the years, Major’s Hill Park has hosted a number of important events and gatherings that we’ve participated in. Royal visits, political rallies, cultural celebrations, and public festivals have all taken place there.
In the present day, the park remains a popular gathering and event space for the general public. I love to go to the park to relax with both my family and friends after a long week of work.
Besides being a tourist attraction, there has been an effort from the local government to preserve its historical significance and improve its amenities. As a result, we’ve seen Major’s Hill Park undergo a number of restoration and improvement projects.
They ensure the preservation of the park’s natural beauty while also ensuring visitors’ accessibility and functionality. Because of that, the park continues to become more and more beautiful with each passing year.
Things to Do in Major’s Hill Park
Major’s Hill Park is not only a prominent historical location in Ottawa, it’s also a great place that features plenty of activities that you can do with friends and family. Here are some exciting ways to spend your day in the park and have a fun day.
Take in scenic views.
One of the things I love about Major’s Hill Park is the beautiful scenery available. There’s quite nothing like having a picnic while admiring Ottawa’s signature landmarks.
You can get an incredible view of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, near the park. There’s just something so soothing about simply watching the waterway winding through the city, often with boats and pleasure craft passing by.
In the winter, you can witness the canal being transformed into the world’s largest skating rink. You can pass the time by watching plenty of locals and tourists having the time of their lives, just moving seamlessly through the frozen water.
Besides the canal, another panoramic view we can get from the park is Ottawa’s downtown skyline. You can see the city’s high-rise buildings, including office towers, hotels, and residential complexes, creating a modern and vibrant backdrop.
On a clear day, you can enjoy views of the majestic Gatineau Hills across the Ottawa River. The rolling hills covered in forests provide a beautiful contrast to the urban landscape, which I never get tired of seeing.
I find it especially amazing during the fall when the foliage turns vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow.
Finally, you have the Alexandra Bridge. From the park, you can see this structure, which connects Ottawa to Gatineau, Quebec.
It spans the Ottawa River and adds to the scenic beauty of the area.
Walk through the lush gardens and landscapes.
Major’s Hill Park’s gardens provide a harmonious blend of natural beauty, historical significance, and panoramic views. This makes it a delightful destination for visitors of all ages.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful stroll, a place to connect with nature, or simply a beautiful setting for a leisurely walk, you are definitely going to enjoy the grounds.
There is a lot of lush greenery when you first enter the gardens. The well-kept lawns, vibrant flower beds, and tall trees create a welcoming and refreshing atmosphere that I just love to look at.
Of course, no garden is complete without some bright flowers. The gardens are adorned with a wide variety of blooms, adding bursts of color to the landscape.
Depending on the season, you may come across tulips, daffodils, roses, or other beautiful floral displays. They enhance the peasant and leisurely atmosphere of the pathways, and I really think it’s hard not to fall in love with them.
Something that my mom and I love doing is taking pictures of the different flowers and shrubs lining the pathways. They tend to change based on the season, and we like to compare them from time to time.
One of the biggest draws that the gardens offer is their tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The combination of beautiful plants, well-kept lawns, and the park’s proximity to the Ottawa River creates a tranquil atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for relaxation and reflection
Major’s Hill Park is strategically located on a hill, providing breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area.
The Ottawa River, the Parliament Buildings, and the downtown skyline can all be seen from various vantage points within the gardens. They create a picturesque setting that enhances your walking experience.
Besides that, the gardens attract a variety of wildlife, including birds, squirrels, and occasionally ducks from the nearby river. As a casual birdwatcher myself, I enjoy observing various species of birds as they flit through the trees and gardens.
Then you have the seasonal changes, which bring their own unique charm to Major’s Hill Park’s gardens.
The gardens provide a unique experience all year. There’s something magical about the vibrant spring blooms, lush summer foliage, golden hues of autumn leaves, and tranquility of a winter landscape.
Pay your respects at the Lieutenant Colonel John By Monument.
Within the park, you can find the statue of Lieutenant Colonel John By, who supervised the construction of the Rideau Canal.
This monument helps us pay tribute to his significant contribution to the development of Ottawa, which makes him a hero in our eyes. Let me give you a quick summary of this important figure’s importance to the capital city.
Lieutenant Colonel John By was a British military engineer who played a very important role in building the Rideau Canal.
The Colonel By Statue in Major’s Hill Park honors his contributions to building one of the city’s most famous attractions. It is a bronze sculpture of Colonel By dressed as a soldier and standing on a stone pedestal.
Lieutenant Colonel John By was in charge of the project to build the Rideau Canal, which was meant to connect the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario. This would serve as a waterway that ships could use to get around easily.
The canal was built between 1826 and 1832 and is considered a huge engineering feat of the 19th century. Its impressive history is what earned it the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Colonel By Statue is a reminder of all the important things Lieutenant Colonel John By did for the growth of Ottawa and the building of the Rideau Canal.
It’s a reminder for us all of how good an engineer he was and how important the canal system was to Ottawa’s past and present.
Have a relaxing picnic with your friends and family.
The park has designated picnic areas where you can savor a leisurely meal while taking in the park’s natural beauty. It’s a great spot for lunch or a gathering, something that I do quite frequently with friends and family.
Major’s Hill Park offers numerous benches and picnic tables where you can comfortably enjoy your picnic. These seating areas are strategically placed throughout the park, allowing you to find a suitable spot that suits your preferences.
Having a relaxing picnic while admiring a picturesque backdrop is truly an incredible experience.
I often admire the well-maintained gardens, lush green spaces, and views of the Ottawa River and downtown skyline. It gets even better when you do it with friends and family over a delicious meal and casual chatting.
Simply put, the serene atmosphere and beautiful surroundings create a delightful environment for a picnic.
If you’d like to relax under the shade of a tree, you will have plenty of opportunities to do so with the park’s many mature trees. They’re another comfortable place to relax and dine if you prefer your picnics underneath some lush greenery.
Another great thing about Major’s Hill Park is its location. It is conveniently situated near the heart of Ottawa, which means you have easy access to nearby amenities.
I and many other locals and tourists use this to our advantage. We can simply walk to the various shops, cafes, and food vendors in the vicinity if we need supplies, or need to add more food to our menu.
Visit the Parliament Hill buildings and the National Gallery of Canada.
Major’s Hill Park provides an excellent vantage point to view the iconic Parliament Buildings of Canada. You can see the majestic Peace Tower, the Centre Block, and the East and West Blocks, which are symbolic of Canada’s governance and history.
Once you’ve decided that you’re done with your time in the park, a quick 7-10 minute walk will take you to the heart of Canada’s government. From there, you can choose to take a tour if you’d like.
On Parliament Hill, there are plenty of things you can do. You can take pictures near the buildings, explore important chambers that the Canadian government uses, and look at ancient relics that helped shape the country’s history.
Of all the places in Parliament Hill, I’d say that the Peace Tower (What to do in peace tower in ottawa) is my favorite location. It features two iconic parts of Parliament Hill that I absolutely adore.
The first is the Carillon, a fascinating bell instrument that plays in the background. The second one is the observation deck, which gives you a view of Ottawa like you’ve never seen before.
But If you prefer a more artistic side to your trip, you can opt to go to the National Gallery of Canada instead. It’s a short 12-15 minute walk, where you can follow a scenic route along Sussex Drive.
True to its name, the National Gallery of Canada features a vast selection of artwork that contains both local and international cultures. You can find Canadian, American, European, Indigenous, and other historical pieces that shaped the medium.
My personal favorite, though, is the contemporary art section, as I am quite a fan of modern art pieces. In this section, there are plenty of multimedia and experimental art pieces that draw inspiration from both past and present trends.
The gallery’s admission starts at $20 for adults, $10 for people 24 and below, and $18 for senior citizens. There are also family packages available for $40.
Ride a bike or jog along the park’s many paths.
Near the park, there is an abundance of terrain that is suitable for exercise. As someone who loves to stay fit, Major’s Hill Park is a perfect place for me to go for these kinds of activities.
One thing I appreciate about the nearby area is the fact that these walkways offer a lovely route. I get to see plenty of incredible landmarks as I take a relaxing stroll or a jog to let out some sweat.
If you want to go jogging or running for exercise, the pathways in the park provide a route that is both enjoyable and easy to follow. You are free to set your own pace while jogging across the park and taking in the scenic vistas and peaceful atmosphere.
Of course, you are also welcome to bring your bicycle into the park and ride it along any of the authorized pathways. Due to cycling’s popularity as a pastime with Ottawans and tourists, you can expect to see plenty of people with their own bicycles.
These activities benefit Major’s Hill Park, as they help with the maintenance of its pathways.
Before I forget, make sure to be considerate of the other people around you, whether you decide to ride a bike or go for a jog in the park. Be mindful of the people you encounter and obey any restrictions or signs that have been laid out.
In addition, take into consideration the time of day as well as the activity level of the park to make sure that you and everyone else have a pleasant and risk-free time there.
Participate in winter activities.
During the winter, Major’s Hill Park offers a completely different experience for all of us.
It features an outdoor skating rink where you can show off your awesome ice skating skills. I often take this opportunity to strap up my skates and glide across the ice while admiring the park’s gorgeous surroundings with some friends and relatives.
The park also has plenty of winter events available for everyone. Ice carving, winter sports displays, live music performances, and cultural festivities are examples of such activities.
If you want something more calm and relaxing, Major’s Hill Park can be a lovely place to go for a winter stroll. A walk in the park can be a nice way to spend the winter season, with its scenic views, snow-covered trees, and tranquil environment.
Then, if there is enough snow, the area and its nearby surroundings offer snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
As a local of the city, I tend to bring my own gear with me. But you don’t have to worry if you don’t have equipment of your own, as there are plenty of nearby rentals in the area.
One of my personal favorite hobbies to do in the park is capturing photos of its icy landscapes, ancient buildings, and winter vistas. All of them provide picturesque imagery that you simply have to capture and preserve.
During your stay, I strongly recommend that you bring a camera, especially if you are a photography enthusiast. The splendor of the snow-covered park, the Ottawa River, and the nearby landmarks is simply breathtaking.