Timeline - Know your Ottawa!

Before European settlement in the Ottawa area, Algonquin peoples known as the Odawa (or Outaouac) inhabited a large territory that included the Ottawa Valley. The Odawa acted as middlemen in the fur trade between northwestern tribes and the French in Montréal. The name Odawa came to be associated with the great river by which they traveled.

  • 1610 – Étienne Brûlé is the first European to see the Chaudière Falls and the future site of the city of Ottawa.

  • 1613 - Samuel de Champlain passes the sight of the future City of Ottawa on June 4th. 

  • 1650 – Nicholas Gatineau, a clerk in the Company of One Hundred Associates, an organization of fur traders, gives his family name to the river flowing into the Ottawa River, two miles from the present city of Hull (now Gatineau).

  • 1763 – The Treaty of Paris of 1763 is signed by Great Britain, France and Spain to mark the end of the Seven Years War. France cedes Canada to Britain.

  • 1783 – Britain and the United States sign the Treaty of Paris of 1783. By this agreement, Britain recognizes the independence of the thirteen colonies that rebelled in 1776.

  • 1791 – The Constitutional Act of 1791, passed by the British Parliament, establishes the individually administered regions of Upper and Lower Canada.

  • 1800 – Philemon Wright founds Wrightsville / Hull in 1800 on the north bank of the Ottawa River. 

  • 1805 – The Napoleonic Wars make the Ottawa Valley an attractive source of timber for the British Navy

  • 1806 – Philemon Wright, his son and a party of men set out to guide the first timber raft down the Ottawa River to the port of Québec. The voyage takes two months.

  • 1809 – Jehiel Collins and his family become the first settlers in the region later known as Bytown.

  • 1810 – Braddish Billings establishes a homestead and becomes the first settler in Gloucester Township.

  • 1811 – Ira Honeywell is the first settler in Nepean Township.

  • 1812 – The United States declates war against Great Britain and proceeds to attack Canada.

  • 1819 – Isaac Firth opens the area’s first tavern at Richmond Landing, near the present-day LeBreton Flats.

  • 1821 – Nicholas Sparks, one of Philemon Wright’s farmhands, purchases 200 acres of land on the south shore of the Ottawa River for 95 pounds. Today the original Sparks property, which includes the site of the parliament buildings and the downtown business district, is assessed at over one hundred million dollars.

  • 1823 – Sir George Ramsay, the Earl of Dalhousie and Governor-in-Chief of British North America purchases an extensive tract of land fronting the Ottawa River in preparation for the construction of the Rideau Canal.

  • 1826 - On September 26, Lieutenant Colonel By and the Earl of Dalhousie choose the location for the entrance to the Rideau Canal and consequently found a community where the City of Ottawa exists today.

  • 1827 - Sir John Franklin, the famed Artic explorer, lays the first stone of the Rideau Canal locks on August 16.

  • 1827 – The name Bytown is first used to identify the community growing up around the Rideau Canal construction. 

  • 1827 – Bytown's first school, the English Mercantile and Mathematical Academy is established on Rideau Street. 

  • 1829 – The first timber slide on the Ottawa River is constructed. 

  • 1832 – The construction of the Rideau Canal is complete and the population of Bytown reaches 1,000. 

  • 1832 – On June 20, the first Board of Health in Bytown is formed to combat an epidemic of Asiatic cholera. A temporary hospital is built where the Royal Canadian Mint now stands on Sussex Drive. The location is selected to facilitate the care of boat passengers from Montréal as they disembark at what came to be known as Cholera Wharf. 

  • 1836 – Bytown's first newspaper, the Bytown Independent and Farmer's Advocate, appears. 

  • 1839 – An Assessment Roll sets the population of Bytown at 2,073.

  • 1841 – The first election in Bytown for a seat in the Legislative Assembly of United Canada is held March 8. 

  • 1843 – William Harris founds the Packet, a weekly newspaper. In 1851, the Packet becomes the Ottawa Citizen.

  • 1843 – The Arch Riot takes place on Sunday August 20. Animosity between the Orangemen and Papists of Bytown erupts in fighting and stone throwing. 

  • 1845 – On May 8, Élisabeth Bruyère and the Sisters of Charity establish a single ward hospital on Saint Patrick Street. The name General Hospital is taken from the description contained in its charter. 

  • 1849 – The Stony Monday Riot takes place on Monday September 17. Tories and Reformists clash over the planned visit of Lord Elgin, one man is killed and many sustain injuries. Two days later, the two political factions, armed with cannons, muskets and pistols face off on the Sappers Bridge. However, the conflict was diffused in time by the military. 

  • 1850 – After some controversy, the village of Bytown is incorporated as a town.

  • 1853 – Bytown boasts of having 60 stores, 3 banks, 3 insurance offices, 3 newspapers, 1 telegraph office and 7 schools. 

  • 1854 – Bytown is linked by rail with the larger centers of Toronto and Montréal. 

  • 1855 - On January 1, Bytown is formally incorporated as a city. In gaining city status, Bytown adopts the name of Ottawa. 

  • 1857 – Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa as the capital of the Province of Canada. 

  • 1860 – The Prince of Wales lays the cornerstone of the Centre Block on September 1. 

  • 1863 – The first professional police force is established.

  • 1867 – The British North America Act is ratified. Ottawa, with a population of 18,000, becomes the permanent capital of the Dominion of Canada. 

  • 1868 – On April 7, Thomas D'Arcy McGee is assassinated. James Patrick Whelan is found guilty on circumstantial evidence and is hanged at the Nicholas Street Jail on February 11, 1869. His is the last public execution in Canada.

  • 1871 – The seven lumber mills of Ottawa employ nearly 1,300 men and the value of lumber produced annually reaches $1.5 million. By this year, Ottawa's yearly output of lumber is unsurpassed in all Ontario. 

  • 1874 – Until this year a number of private companies were responsible for providing firefighting services with the City council providing a premium of 20 shillings to the first company to hose a fire. This arrangement led to arguments and fistfights between companies, often to the detriment of the poor householder as his home burnt to the ground. On December 20, 1874, Ottawa establishes a professional fire brigade. 

  • 1875 – Ottawa households have running water, many years behind other Canadian cities. 

  • 1879 – The Great Dominion Exhibition is held in Ottawa. Later the exhibition grounds become Landsdowne Park, named after the Marquis of Landsdowne, Governor General from 1883 to 1888. Many citizens question the location of the park so far out in the country. 

  • 1881 – Ottawa’s population exceeds 25,000.

  • 1885 – Electricity comes to Ottawa. 

  • 1886 – The Central Experimental Farm is established on 1,196 acres of land beyond the city’s south-western limits.

  • 1895 – Ottawa's first paved street exists as of this date. 

  • 1900 – On April 26, a terrible fire decimates much of Hull and many buildings in Ottawa.

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