Photostory #445A: Ottawa: Canada's Capital City for the Past Century
National Film Board of Canada
June 20, 1967
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
One hundred years ago when Queen Victoria stuck a shrewd pin in the vast map of North America and designated Ottawa as the capital city of the new nation formed by the federation of English and French Canada, many witticisms were made about the new "Westminster in the Wilderness". Later on Sir Wilfred Laurier still echoed this thought. He thought the city not handsome and allowed his opinion that it was not destined to improve its looks either. Now, in Centennial year, the old jokes are losing out as the city blossoms forth in a mixture of modern and old-world graces. Intermingling with the charm of leisurely winding driveways and tree-lined avenues of solid residences approaching their vintage years are spanking-new riverside parkways and footpaths, sweeping bridges and the pleasing forms of bustling public utilities. The fine airport and railway station, the Queensway and new highways help speed the nation's business. New buildings in abundance encourage the growing internal everyday affairs of a 500,000 population. Across the famed Ottawa River, whose running flood waters can still drown the sound of morning rush-hour traffic, the friendly city of Hull in neighbouring Quebec, provides a matching scene of change and points the way to the enduring natural beauty of the nearby Gatineau Hills. For, despite a hundred years passed by and the capital's recent phenomenal growth, the wilderness remains close by. Ottawa is still a frontier city facing a vast northern territory. The logs keep floating down the river, grouse and mergansers are there to be seen along the parkways, a bear may be encountered within sight of the Peace Tower and even a few miles to the south deer browse the woodland glades. Ottawa, the nation's capital city has a handsome new face now, Sir Wilfred, but remains as truly Canadian as ever.