Top 15 Historic Sites That You Must Visit in Ottawa

Top 15 Historic Sites That You Must Visit in Ottawa

Ottawa is a beautiful city that has a rich history and cultural heritage. 

Looking back, my parents used to bring me to various historic sites to have fun while understanding the stories behind them. I pretty much enjoyed those times, and this is why I still visit these places whenever I find the chance. 

So if you’re also into discovering the nation’s history the fun way, this list of the best historic sites would be a good start for you.

1. Aberdeen Pavilion

Aberdeen Pavilion

Address: 1000 Exhibition Way, Ottawa, ON K1S 5J3, Canada 
Contact Details: +1 613-580-2429 
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday, 5 AM – 11 PM
Admission: Free

Once known as the “Cattle Castle” for its agricultural shows, Aberdeen Pavilion is a historic structure that we love visiting. It was also used for indoor ice hockey back in the early 1900s but was later renovated for a different purpose.

Today, the place is packed with countless merchants that sell all sorts of goods – from fruits and vegetables to baked goods and meat products. It has also become one of the most popular places in Ottawa for special events like the annual CityFolk Festival. 

In December, this place is transformed into a perfect venue for Christmas shopping sprees. We just love to see how its series of large steel arches are turned into a majestic view with glittering ornaments at this time of year.

Aberdeen Pavilion is open all year round. It is equipped with a vast parking space and a playground where you can leave your kids to have fun while you shop. 

2. Beechwood Cemetery

Beechwood Cemetery

Address: 280 Beechwood Ave, Ottawa, ON K1M 8E2, Canada
Contact Details: +1 613-741-9530
Cemetery Time: Monday to Sunday, 8 AM – 5 PM
Admission: Free

If you can find beauty in silence, this place is for you.

Beechwood Cemetery dates back to 1873 and now serves as the resting place of some of the most iconic figures in Canada. But this cemetery has more than well-maintained tombstones to offer. 

On your visit, you will be greeted by acres of land with lots of trees and lush greenery. The area where war soldiers are buried is a sight on its own. 

If you’re lucky enough, you will be guided by some volunteers who can provide you with historical facts about the cemetery and its significance to the people of Ottawa. 

The cemetery is often packed with people on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so you might want to take note of that if this historical site is a part of your itinerary. 

3. Billings Estate Museum

Billings Estate Museum

Address: 2100 Cabot St, Ottawa, ON K1H 6K1, Canada 
Contact Details: +1 613-580-2088
Operating Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM
Admission: Adults – $7.25, Seniors and Students – $6, Youth (6 – 17 years old) – $4.25, Children 5 and under – Free

As the oldest wooden home that dates back to the 1820s, the Billings Estate National Historic Site is worth spending time on. 

Because aside from reliving the history of the Billing family, you’ll also get to enjoy a massive art collection and thousands of artifacts. With that, make sure to bring your cameras with you to capture these awesome historical pieces.

On your visit, you may opt to pack your lunch and have a sunny picnic on-site or enjoy some nice tea and freshly baked goods at the Tea on the Lawn. Should you choose to go for the latter, you may place your reservation by calling +1 613-580-2088. 

This historical site, however, is closed from September to April. It is also worth noting that the place is usually crowded on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 12 PM – 1 PM. 

4. Cumberland Heritage Village Museum

Cumberland Heritage Village Museum

Address: 2940 Old Montreal Rd, Cumberland, ON K4C 1E6, Canada, Ottawa
Contact Details: +1 613-833-3059
Operating Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM
Admission: Adults – $8.50, Seniors and Students – $6, Youth (6 – 17 years old) – $6.12, Children 5 and under – Free

Just a 30-minute drive away from downtown Ottawa is the 100-acre Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. A visit to this historical site will take you to how life was back in the 1920s and 1930s when technology was at its basic form. 

As a living museum, you’ll get the chance to see dozens of heritage buildings which include a working sawmill, a train station, a church, and a school. There’s also a livestock barn that runs a farm animal tour from Wednesday to Sunday at 4 PM.

Since this place is a popular tourist site, we recommend placing your reservations ahead of time. If you want to avoid large crowds, we suggest coming here on a Monday or a Tuesday when there are fewer guests expected.

But whatever your plans are, don’t forget to bring your cameras with you so you can capture all the amazing views this place has to offer. 

5. Central Chambers National Historic Site of Canada

Central Chambers National Historic Site of Canada

Address: 40 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 1C7, Canada
Admission: Free

An epitome of the Queen Anne Revival style, the Central Chambers National Historic Site of Canada is a 6-story building that was constructed during the early 1890s. Its red bricks, decorative tiles, and windows with metal frames are a sight to behold.

But apart from its splendid architectural design, people flock here as it is also close to other tourist spots like the Chateau Laurier and the National Arts Centre. The nearby park, which holds the ‘Changing of the Guard’ ceremony (Where to watch changing of the guards in ottawa?), is also worth visiting.

Today, this historical site is home to various offices and commercial premises. 

If you intend to visit this place, we recommend coming here between 8 AM to 8 PM for some nice photos with the building as the backdrop. A lot of tourists come here on weekends, so you might want to take note of that as well. 

6. Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum

Diefenbunker Canada's Cold War Museum

Address: 3929 Carp Rd, Ottawa, ON K0A 1L0, Canada
Contact Details: +1 613-839-0007
Operating Hours: Monday to Friday, 10 AM – 4 PM; Saturday to Sunday – 10 AM – 3 PM
Admission: Adults – $17.50, Seniors (60+ years old) – $16.50, Youth (6 – 17 years old) – $11, Children 5 and under – Free

If the idea of descending 75 feet under to relive history excites you, then the Diefenbunker is a must-try experience for you. 

Built in the early 1960s, this historic site was used as a military bunker during the Cold War. This massive, 4-story underground structure was originally constructed to shelter top officials during the war but is now operating as a not-for-profit, charitable museum. 

Aside from having five museum rooms that are filled with artifacts, it also offers award-winning tours and activities for its guests. These include exhibitions and educational programs to learn more about the bunker’s history and its significance. 

But this historic site is more than just a museum. 

It also holds special events such as the annual “Easter at the Bunker” in April. Kids who want to make their birthdays more memorable can celebrate their special days here, too!

Since the slots easily get filled up, we strongly recommend buying your tickets in advance. Wearing a mask is also highly suggested while visiting the site. 

7. Famous Five Monument

Famous Five Monument

Address: 1 Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6, Canada
Admission: Free

The story of this historical site began with one of the most popular cases of women’s rights in Canada. Created in 2000, this brilliant piece of public art depicts a scene from Canadian history.

Advocating for gender equality in politics, five women created a petition to the Supreme Court of Canada for females to be given fair chances to be elected in the Senate. While this incident didn’t yield a favorable response, it started a change. 

A visit to these famous statues of Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie Mooney McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney, Emily Murphy, and Irene Marryat Parlby will let you relive history. 

If you’re heading to this historical site, you might also be interested to drop by the nearby Rideau Falls and Ottawa Champions. To avoid too much crowd, we suggest visiting early in the morning or late afternoon between Sunday to Wednesday. 

But whatever you do, don’t forget to bring your camera with you and capture some nice photos of these remarkable women of history. 

8. Laurier House National Historic Site Of Canada

Laurier House National Historic Site Of Canada

Address: 335 Laurier Ave E, Ottawa, ON K1N 6R4, Canada 
Contact Details: +1 613-992-8142
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM
Admission: Adults – $4.25, Senior – $3.75, Youth (17 years old and under) – Free

The Laurier House National Historic Site, which once served as the home of two former Prime Ministers of Canada, is now a museum worth visiting. Spending time here will let you learn everything you need to know about its history and political significance. 

Built in the 1870s, this site is also home to some well-preserved artifacts – from furniture and sculptures to décor and cutlery. The antique piano and the elevators are a must-see you can’t afford to miss. 

If you fancy history, you’ll enjoy the structure’s treasures and splendid architecture. 

A former home of two of Canada’s Prime Ministers- Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Laurier House National Historic Site gives you a peek into the country’s past.

If this historical site happens to be a part of your itinerary, we suggest coming here in the afternoon as this place is often packed with guests between 10 AM – 11 AM. It would also be better to visit on a weekday as more visitors are expected on weekends.

9. National War Memorial

National War Memorial

Address: Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5A4, Canada
Admission: Free

Established in 1939, the National War Memorial was built to pay tribute to all the fallen Canadian soldiers who had served the country in times of war. It is also the site where the annual Remembrance Day Ceremony is held every November 11. 

When you get here, you’ll find a monument that consists of 23 bronze statues, which represent the Canadian forces’ 11 branches during the First World War. 

There’s also the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which belongs to a Canadian soldier who died in a war that took place in France. 

The statues, matched with interpretative art, are both a great and heartbreaking sight to witness. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to see the ‘Changing of the Guard’ ceremony.

If you’re thinking of visiting, we suggest coming here in the morning or late afternoon as this place gets crowded between 1 PM to 2 PM. The best part is that this dog-friendly site has a lot of benches to sit on, and beautiful landscapes to enjoy and appreciate.

10. Notre Dame Basilica

Notre Dame Basilica

Address: 385 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 1J9, Canada
Contact Details: +1 613-241-7496
Operating Hours: Monday to Tuesday, 9 AM – 5 PM; Wednesday to Sunday, 9 AM – 8 PM
Admission: Free

Hailed as the oldest and largest standing church in Canada, the Notre Dame Basilica is a site you can’t afford to miss. With its Neoclassical and Gothic Revival architecture, you’ll love feasting your eyes on its intricate design.

Upon entering, you’ll be in for a breathtaking sight of stained-glass windows, rich carvings, and vaulted ceilings that are worth capturing with your camera lenses. You also wouldn’t want to miss the huge spider sculpture, Maman, in front of the cathedral.

Just like all other churches, the Notre Dame Basilica holds daily masses. You can visit its official website for the schedules. 

Should you be interested to learn more about the church’s history and significance, there are also guided tours offered for $10 each person. We suggest calling in advance to secure slots. 

If you’re coming in with your car, there’s paid parking at the back of the church. If you still have enough time, you might also want to visit the nearby National Gallery of Canada or the Royal Canadian Mint.

11. Peace Tower

Peace Tower

Address: 111 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6, Canada
Admission: Free

If taking photos with a number of friezes and gargoyles in the background is your thing, then you ought to visit the renowned Peace Tower. Built in the 1920s, this clock tower is now considered one of the exquisite examples of Gothic design.

Found inside this majestic edifice is the Memorial Chamber, which is dedicated to all the Canadians who had lost their lives during the Great War. Also within its walls is The Books of Remembrance which contains all the names of the fallen Canadian soldiers.

But what really attracts both locals and tourists to visit is what’s waiting at the top of the tower. The view of the city at its summit is a spectacular sight to gaze upon.

Since the place is often filled with people during the weekends, we recommend coming here between Monday and Friday at around 8 AM just before countless tourists arrive from 10 AM to 11 AM.

12. Peacekeeping Monument

Peacekeeping Monument

Address: 424-428 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9M6, Canada
Admission: Free

Located just a few minutes away from ByWard Market is a one-of-a-kind memorial – the Peacekeeping Monument. But unlike other monuments, this special structure honors not only the dead but also the living. 

Looking at it more closely, you’ll see two men and a woman standing in the aftermath of a war. Also worth checking out is the quotation found at the bottom of the monument saying that Canadians will continuously help preserve the peace in the world. 

A visit to this place is a nice way for kids to see and respect the sacrifices of men and women who had and have been helping to keep peace across the globe. 

Most tourists often come to this historic site on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays between 9 AM to 10 AM. The Ottawa Little Theatre is also close by, so you might want to drop by after your visit here.

13. Pinhey’s Point Historic Site

Pinhey's Point Historic Site

Address: 270 Pinhey’s Point Rd, Dunrobin, ON K0A 1T0, Canada, Ottawa
Contact Details: +1 613-832-4347
Operating Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM
Admission: Free but accepts donation

Situated along the banks of the Ottawa River, Pinhey’s Point Historic Site features a nearly 200-year-old manor house in an 88-acre of parkland and fields. It used to be owned by Hamnett Kirkes Pinhey and his family until the 1970s.

Inside, you’ll find some historic paintings, photographs, embroidery, and furniture. For art lovers, we are certain that the family members’ silhouette portraits will make your visit worthwhile. 

But this site is more than discovering the 19th-century March Township. Also outside the magisterial home are landscapes that offer a perfect place to relax. 

While exploring the area comes with no fee, Pinhey’s Point Historic Site appreciates guests offering donations for its maintenance. 

On your visit, we recommend bringing some bottled drinks and snacks. It would also be wise to come on any day of the week, except Wednesdays and Saturdays when a lot of tourists are expected to visit.

14. Royal Canadian Mint

Royal Canadian Mint

Address: 320 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G8, Canada 
Contact Details: +1 613-993-0949
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM
Admission: Adults – $12, Seniors – $10, Children (5-17 years old) – $8, Infants (4 years old and under) – Free  

If you’re a coin enthusiast, you’ll definitely love this place. Producer of the nation’s coins that range from gold and silver to platinum and palladium, the Royal Canadian Mint showcases countless coins, including some coveted collector items from history. 

It also manufactures esteemed medals, which are used in major international competitions like the Winter Games. 

Purchasing its tour tickets will allow you to have a bird’s eye view of its production floor and a closer look at its coin manufacturing process. You’ll also learn more about its modern gold refining technology and the record-breaking “Million Dollar Coin.”

But this historic site offers more than just coins and education tours. Also found within its premises is an onsite boutique where locals and tourists can purchase coins, unique gifts, souvenirs, and collectibles. 

It is open all year round, so you might want to bring in some extra cash with you on your visit. We also suggest visiting by midweek before 4 PM since it is often congested between 4 PM to 5 PM on Sunday through Tuesday.

15. Victoria Memorial Museum

Victoria Memorial Museum

Address: 240 McLeod St, Ottawa, ON K2P 2R1, Canada
Contact Details: +1 800-263-4433
Operating Hours: Friday to Wednesday, 9:30 AM – 5 PM; Thursday, 9:30 AM – 8 PM
Admission: Adult – $27.50, Senior (65+ years old) – $22.50, Student (13-18+ years old) – $22.50, Child (3–12 years old) 

For Canadian wildlife and ecosystem lovers, you’ll love this historic site.

Also known as the “Canadian Museum of Nature,” the Victoria Museum is found in a mesmerizing, castle-like public structure. This building was used to house the Parliament of Canada between 1916 and 1920. 

Because of its historical and architectural significance, the site was later designated as a Classified Federal Heritage Building. The mixture of both its old and new architecture is a sight worth capturing.

Today, the museum features some of the best national history collections that extend from interesting fossils to planet exhibits. While the lighting inside isn’t ideal, make sure to take photos with the realistic mammals and bird dioramas behind the glasses.

There are also a lot of benches and patios on each floor where you can have some snacks on a beautiful day. 

If you plan to visit, we recommend coming here on a weekday as the place is packed with families on weekends when parking on the streets is free.