Choosing a province and city to settle in is no easy feat. The task becomes even more difficult when there exist numerous stereotypes about a place that you are potentially considering to relocate to.
Such is the story of Ottawa – Canada’s capital city. Cold, boring, few opportunities outside the public sector, and no fun activities after 5 o-clock. While these are some of the things that one often hears about the city, the reality is that Ottawa, Canada’s fourth largest city, has long ago shed such negative associations. The city has become famous for its tech startups, vibrant festivals, top-rated schools, and a diversity of jobs in addition to continuing to serve as the country’s political heartbeat.
This year, Ottawa is getting ready to welcome more than 70,000 newcomers and among these are many Ukrainians. We’ve gathered some interesting facts to share about the city.
While officially Ottawa is not a bilingual city, both English and French are widely spoken in the city and the National Capital Region. More than half of Ottawa’s residents are fully bilingual and can easily switch between the two languages. There are many opportunities to study French in Ottawa and to right away put your skills to the test too. Quebec is just across the river, with Gatineau formally representing the francophone part of the National Capital Region.
Ottawa’s frigid winters are one of the main reasons why many are reluctant to choose the city as a place to settle. But in reality, not everything is so terrible! Ottawa is famous for its four seasons and a climate that is similar to Ukraine’s. Hot summers of up to 30 degrees celsius are the norm, and pristine water lakes in parks close to the city are a usual go-to spot for locals. Autumn brings all shades of auburn to the city, making it a very romantic time of the year for picturesque strolls. The winter is indeed cold, with temperatures often dropping to -20. But with numerous outdoor winter activities, the winter goes by quickly and can even be fun! As Norwegians like to say – “there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”. We find this is true for Canada as well. In terms of activities, there is a variety to choose from: skiing, skating, snowshoeing, sledding – all activities are accessible in the city or its vicinity and make for an easy go-to activity in the evenings or on weekends. As for spring, it is probably Ottawa’s shortest season. In between some rain, April flurries, and blooming gardens, summer arrives quickly. That said, one of Ottawa’s Spring “must-sees” is the annual tulip festival.
The National Capital Region doesn’t have mountains or oceans, but prides itself with its parks, swimmable lakes, three rivers, sandy beaches, and of course, the historic Rideau canal (which turns into the world’s longest skating route during the winter!). Across the river from Ottawa is the beautiful Gatineau Park, which offers hundreds of hiking and biking trails, lakes, and even its own skiing resort (Camp Fortune). All of this is just 20 minutes from the city center.
Dining and Food Culture
Every fourth resident of Ottawa is foreign-born. As such, it is no surprise then that Ottawa has such a diverse food scene. From Asian, Middle Eastern, European, Central and South American and flavourful local takes on fusion kitchen classics. The city also has its own ChinaTown and Little Italy with authentic cafes, shops, and restaurants and is home to four restaurants that are in Canada’s list of top 100 restaurants in Canada.
Ottawa has a vibrant cultural scene, including several annual festivals, which all residents of Ottawa should check out at least once. In the summer, there is the Ottawa Bluesfest – one of the 10 largest music festivals in the world. For lovers of jazz music, there is also the Ottawa Jazz Festival, which offers a more intimate and soulful experience. Ottawa is also home to the Capital Ukrainian Festival , which has made it to the list of top 100 events in Ontario. And let us not forget about Canada Day celebrations that always bring in a large crowd for day-long festivities. Children can find all sorts of fun activities at the Ottawa International Children’s Festival. Locals celebrate the beautiful fall season at Fall Rhapsody. And how could Ottawa not have a festival during winter? Wintelude, with its ice sculptures and hot cocoa, make even winter skeptics feel like they’re in a fairytale.
Everything noted here is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. And as you settle in Ottawa, you will discover that there is a lot more than what meets the eye, making this city familiar quickly but also one which offers many pleasant surprises. Of course, for anybody arriving here, the priority is first and foremost getting settled. You can find out more information about topics like housing, transport, and health care in our Useful Information section.
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