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Downtown Core

-Elizabeth Howell

The heart of the city.

Bounded by the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal, the few blocks radiating out from Parliament Hill tends to be the bureaucratic heart of the capital. It’s dominated by federal government offi ce complexes, hotels, restaurants, and an array of public- and private-sector organizations. Increasingly, high-end condominiums are joining that mix as “power addresses” occupied by wealthy or infl uential residents, particularly those eager to commute to work on foot. The ByWard Market hosts a year-round farmers and crafts market, an eclectic mix of shops and bars, and is a new growth area for condominiums.

Dow's Lake

-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods

West of the Glebe and south along the Rideau Canal is a local wetland that the 19th-century builders of the canal shaped into a shallow lake surrounded by parkland. It’s a picturesque backdrop for streets that follow the line of the canal, and large houses that went up as the growing city expanded in the early 20th century. Many of these homes have a view of the canal and of Dow’s Lake Pavilion, which features restaurants, boat rentals, and skating services from season to season. The area is a focal point for the annual tulip festival every spring, and on one side is the federally owned Arboretum, with ornamental gardens and the Experimental Farm.

The Glebe

-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhood The Glebe

With the Rideau Canal to the east, Bronson Street to the west, and the Queensway highway to the north, the Glebe was Ottawa’s original bedroom community, served by the city’s first streetcar line into downtown. Taking its name from the “church lands” that defined this area, it has retained a number of parishes, and traditional town and row housing, including highly coveted lofts and larger homes. Straddling a popular section of Bank Street, the Glebe hosts unique shops, restaurants and a highly active community centre. Its unrivalled garage sale annually transforms the neighbourhood into a giant open-air shopping centre.


-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods Gloucester

Though just east of the downtown coreand west of well developed Orleans, much of Gloucester looks and feels as though it is just being settled. The road system is regularly punctuated with sizable portions of parkland, especially in the south, where the region’s rural origins are still visible. Numerous outdoor skating rinks, soccer fields and baseball diamonds add to the open feel, while indoor pools and arenas abound. There’s a wide selection of housing, from older, more affordable offerings to modern single and semi detached homes and condominium townhouses. Gloucester is also a major hub in the Transitway network, with an efficient commute to the city centre.

Hunt Club

-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods Hunt Club

Once the site of British-style fox hunting, this area has melded into the larger urban system, thanks to amalgamation and light rail transit near Bank Street. Hunt Club occupies the northern edge of the city’s celebrated greenbelt. The latest growth has been occurring even further south, where developers have been taking advantage of open land to put up houses on large lots.


-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods Kanata

This western extension of the most densely populated part of the amalgamated Ottawa region is also one of the fastest growing. That growth was sparked in the 1980s, when this underdeveloped area became the location of dozens of dynamic high-tech fi rms, including a manufacturing facility for Research in Motion, makers of the famous Blackberry ® wireless e-mail device. Today, Kanata boasts some of Ottawa’s highest per-capita incomes; these (predominantly) young families with children are well served by schools and recreation facilities. Those facilities include such outstanding examples as the Kanata Leisure Centre, an indoor wave pool for year-round swimming fun, and Scotiabank Place, the giant sports complex that is home to local NHL team, the Ottawa Senators. More than half of all homes in Kanata have been built over the last two decades; most of those are detached or semi-detached homes on large lots – many are surrounded by the original forest that still flourishes in this community.

Mooney's Bay

-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods Mooney's Bay

Named after a section of the Rideau River that widens and features a large beach, Mooney’s Bay lies to the south and west of Alta Vista. Besides hosting beach volleyball tournaments and an annual, two-day Dragon Boat Race Festival, the area boasts recreational pathways around the dramatic Hog’s Back Falls, groomed cross-country ski trails, and a major sports complex. Riverside Drive serves as a commercial backbone, with several high-tech companies based along this four-lane boulevard. The neighbourhood has also been the site of active real-estate development, including some of the city’s newest large, higher-priced housing.


-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods Nepean

This was once the largest regional municipality after Ottawa, which regularly annexed sections of Nepean prior to full amalgamation in 2001. Nepean contains the campus of Algonquin College near the busy intersection of Baseline and Woodroffe, a VIA rail station in the rapidly growing suburb of Barrhaven, and even a sailing club on the Ottawa River. The popular Centrepoint district is home to one of the region’s major live-performance theatres, located at Nepean’s former city hall. Housing prospects are plentiful, running the gamut from affordable townhouses or apartments to elegant estates next to a golf course. Transportation remains among the most serious concerns facing this part of the city. The construction of Highway 416 provided new access for commuters to downtown, as well as to communities further south, but bus service to downtown remains a long and difficult haul from south Nepean. Promises of light rail transit to the region also fell through, despite the presence of the VIA Rail station.

New Edinburgh

-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods New Edinburgh

Some of the elegance of Rockcliffe spills into New Edinburgh, with its broad selection of outstanding heritage properties. Not exclusively residential, New Edinburgh features a variety of interesting shops and restaurants along one of the main thoroughfares running into downtown. Close to extensive parkland along the Rideau River, homes in this area can easily fetch as much as $500,000, but bargains can be found further east, where development has been more limited. And now developers are eyeing a decommissioned part of a nearby Armed Forces base that could become available for new home construction.

Old Ottawa South

-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods Old Ottawa South

Residents of Old Ottawa South refer to their neighbourhood as “between the bridges” with the Rideau Canal to the north, the Rideau River to the south, and green spaces along each waterway. To the west is the large campus of Carleton University, with links to downtown or the airport along Bronson Avenue, and light rail transit service. Four-storey condominiums overlooking Bank Street mark the latest wave of housing growth, offering residents a distinctive array of businesses and restaurants that literally run from bridge to bridge.


-Eliazbeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods Orleans

In the eastern end of Ottawa, bounded by the Ottawa River and heavily forested sections of the city’s greenbelt, Orleans has exceeded the growth expectations of urban planners. Here, households are expanding even faster than the overall population, which has doubled over the last two decades. For commuters, Orleans is highly accessible to the rest of Ottawa, thanks to the major thoroughfare of St. Joseph Boulevard and a four-lane expressway that hooks up with the Queensway at “the split,” where Highway 417 turns toward Montreal. Many residents may not feel the need to head closer to downtown, as Orleans is home to a growing number of businesses, modern library facilities, new schools, a recreation complex and one of Ottawa’s largest shopping malls, Place d’Orléans; bus service here is frequent. Most existing housing consists of single detached homes, demand for which has made housing values in this area among the highest in the region.

Ottawa West/Westboro

-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods Ottawa West/Westboro

Ottawa West/Westboro
Defined by the traditional transportation and business corridor of Wellington Street – a western extension of the same street that runs in front of the Parliament Buildings – Westboro has taken this venue to new heights of fashion, making this area home to newer businesses such as Mountain Equipment Co-op and the Bridgehead fair-trade coffee outlet, as well as the Newport restaurant, a well-worn and well-loved fixture that hosts the Elvis Sighting Society. Housing options range from post-war bungalows to swanky homes on large lots along Island Park Drive, where many international ambassadors reside. Westboro also includes extensive parkland and the Parkdale Market, one of two outdoor farmers’ markets in Ottawa. Further west are several major shopping centres, including Bayshore, Westgate and Carlingwood malls, the latter being near a great deal of senior housing and providing easy access to a full range of services.

Rockcliffe Village

-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods Rockcliffe Village

Few places in Canada can rival the toney atmosphere of Rockcliffe, which includes the venerable estates of the Governor General and the Prime Minister. Set against a winding maze of tree-lined streets flanked by mansions old and new, running along a well forested section of the Ottawa River, this most upscale of neighbourhoods has long been the preferred residence for politicians, ambassadors and, of late, the high-rolling entrepreneurs of the city’s technology industry. Not surprisingly, some of these expensive homes have price tags in the millions.

Sandy Hill

-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods Sandy Hill

Across the canal and east of the downtown core is Sandy Hill, home to the University of Ottawa campus. Young families and students constantly invigorate this neighbourhood of vintage homes and large trees. You’ll fi nd quiet streets, parks and playgrounds, including a major stretch of greenbelt along the Rideau River. And many of the larger, more historic houses have become diplomatic residences, and the headquarters for professional institutions of one sort or another.

South of Ottawa

-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods South of Ottawa

Communities created and sustained by their access to the Rideau River and canal system are now part of the city that used to seem so far away. Small towns such as Manotick, North Gower, Greeley, Osgoode, Kars, Kemptville, Vernon, Metcalfe and Winchester are hubs for working farms and local housing ranging from modest older homes to newer subdivisions and premium riverfront real estate. Rural bus routes provide access to the rest of Ottawa, with many people commuting every day.

South Urban Community

-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods South Urban Community

Poised on the edge of a great deal of open land, the South Urban Community is expected to be the setting for some of years. Located on both sides of the Rideau River just south and west of the Ottawa International Airport, the area saw a significant influx in 2006 of small families, couples and single people who wanted elbow room around them. Conservative estimates foresee more than 150,000 new residents here over the next 20 years.


-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Nerighbourhoods Vanier

South of New Edinburgh on the east bank of the Rideau River, Vanier was one of the first municipalities in the extended Ottawa region. Residents include francophone representatives of the region’s French heritage and newcomers from outside Ottawa and abroad. The Vanier Parkway efficiently links the area to the entire city road network, a wide range of commercial and community services and one of the city’s largest shopping malls, the St. Laurent Centre. Housing costs and styles vary widely in this area, attractive to many first-time homeowners. 

From Glass to Grass

-Elizabeth Howell

Take your pick between bustling city or serene country settings

hink of Ottawa as butter on a slice of bread – the population and neighbourhoods are quite spread out, with hardly any pockets of density. Downtown is so small you can walk across it in an hour. But it can take hours to drive from one end of the amalgamated city to the other.

Ottawa consists of a pastiche of remarkable neighbourhoods – some old, some new, some large, some small, each one part of the city’s character. Nepean, formed when the region was fi rst settled in the 19th century, remains a suburban anchor for the region. Kanata, which grew up quickly during the high-tech boom of the ‘80s and ‘90s, still has parcels of land waiting to be zoned.

Meanwhile, densely populated sections of the downtown have developed their own unique personalities in response to nearby rivers and the canal, or the presence of businesses that have long since moved on. And many of these older neighbourhoods are evolving to attract a new generation of condominium and apartment dwellers.

This colourful patchwork came under a single municipal administration almost a decade ago, but Ottawa’s diversity still persists. It’s well worth getting to know the different sides of a city that is every bit as multifaceted as the nation it represents.

Alta Vista

-Elizabeth Howell

Alta Vista One of Ottawa's oldest communities, Alta Vista features open spaces, and quiet streets.

One of Ottawa’s oldest communities, Alta Vista features open spaces, quiet streets, playing fields and pathways meandering through forests. Close to key arteries such as Riverside Drive, St. Laurent Boulevard, and the Queensway, it contains the main campus of the Ottawa Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and parts of the University of Ottawa. Alta Vista remainedlargely rural until the 1950s, when the city annexed it and young couples moved into single-family dwellings. Large apartment complexes run along the nearby Transitway line.


-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Area

Just south of the core is where colonial history and recent immigration meet. New condominiums and apartment buildings are making their way into this area, close to elegant homes that have stood on tree-lined streets for generations. Among the key arteries is Somerset Street, which leads west to Somerset Heights, with its concentration of distinctive ethnic grocery stores and restaurants serving the Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Indian communities. An equally outstanding array of Italian businesses can be found just to the west on Preston Street, which is dubbed “Via Marconi” because of its strong ties to this community. And to the east lies the “golden triangle,” bounded by the canal and Elgin Street, and home to a large number of trendy shops and distinctive lofts.


-Elizabeth Howell

Ottawa Neighbourhoods

Perched on the edge of a rural landscape that extends all the way to the Ottawa River and the Quebec border, Cumberland now has more access to urban services and easy transportation into downtown Ottawa. Not surprisingly, its undeveloped character can be seen in such amenities as bicycle paths, walkways and nature trails, including a charming waterfall and unspoiled natural setting tucked in behind one of the main streets. Yet local residents can also take advantage of the Ray Friel Recreation Complex, with a pool, three NHL size hockey rinks, and space for a wide range of other physical activities, as well as a terraced restaurant overlooking the ice, a Sports Therapy Clinic and Sport Shop, along with close to 6,000 square feet of children’s programming and conference room space.