Are you planning a trip to Ottawa? It’s a beautiful city to visit in any season, for its architecture and its parks. While developing our Ottawa Tourist Scavenger Hunt, we identified several museums in Ottawa on a variety of subjects.
We’ve limited our list to the downtown core and close proximity, while there are many others further around the city. They include 11 museums in Ottawa and 2 in Gatineau.
11 museums in Ottawa to discover
Governor General’s Footguard Museum
- This museum is located on the east side of Ottawa’s City Hall on Laurier Avenue. The Governor General’s Footguard Museum faces Confederation Park along the Rideau Canal.
- The Governor General’s guards service started in Quebec City in 1861. This military unit followed the Government when it moved to Ottawa in 1865. The museum was established in 1950.
- This educational entomology center presents insects and tarantulas from around the world.
Bank of Canada Museum
- This entirely renovated museum presents exhibits on the economy and the role of the Bank of Canada in the Canadian economy. The museum opens daily from 10 am to 5 pm and is free to visit.
National Arts Gallery
- This museum, founded in 1880 by the Governor General of the time who was married to Princess Louise, who was an artist. In 1882, the museum was installed on Parliament Hill in the same building as the Supreme Court. It was moved in 1911 to the Victoria Memorial Museum which today is the Canadian Museum of Nature. In 1962, it moved yet again to Elgin road near the British Embassy. Finally, it moved to its own new home in a large glass building on the northern point of Ottawa, in 1988.
- Located at the entrance of the Rideau Canal is the Bytown Museum. It bears the original name of this city and presents the history of Ottawa.
- This museum, situated within the University of Ottawa, began in 1975. Its daily collection presents the daily life of people in the 7th century B.C. up to the 7th century A.D.
- This museum is open daily and presents interactive exhibits on agriculture and food in Canada.
- It is located on Queen Elizabeth Dr along Rideau Canal at the intersection of Somerset W.
Canadian Nature Museum
- Located on McLeod at the intersection of Metcalfe, the Canadian Museum of Nature aligns perfectly with parliament hill.
- You’ll find here exhibits on the natural history of Canada, its flora and its fauna.
Canadian War Museum
- The Canadian War Museum is west of the downtown area. You’ll learn here about Canada’s military history from French colonization to the Great War up to today.
Royal Canadian Mint
- This museum is on the eastern edge of the downtown area. Learn how money was designed and fabricated in Canada throughout its history. It stands next to the Ottawa River.
- This manor built in 1878 was at different times, the residence of 2 past Prime Ministers. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 5th prime minister, lived here from 1897 until his death in 1919. The Right Honorable William Lyon Mackenzie King inherited this house from Laurier’s widow. He stayed here from 1923 until his death in 1950.
- He, in turn, bequeathed it to the Canadian Government. It almost became the official residence of the prime minister, but Louis St. Laurent chose 24 Sussex Dr in its stead.
- You can visit the manor for free at 335 Avenue Laurier, east of downtown.
2 museums to discover in Gatineau
Canadian Children’s Museum
- Located in Hull, across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill, is the Canadian Children’s Museum.
Canadian Museum of History
- The national history museum is also located in Hull, next to the Children’s Museum. Its original name was the Canadian Civilisation Museum
- Its goal is to collect and present objects that illustrate the human history of Canada and its cultural diversity.
We invite you to try our Ottawa Tourist Scavenger Hunt. It is a 2-hour self-guided walking tour of the downtown area that you do with your smartphone (how it works). It costs $35 for a group of 2 to 6 persons. You’ll come across most of these museums and much more. Moreover, you’ll enjoy solving the various challenges at each step of the way while learning the history of Ottawa.