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Bytown Museum

Discover Ottawa’s modest origins as the settlement of Bytown in this historical museum located within the city’s oldest building.

Learn about Ottawa’s journey from a violent lumber town to Canada’s stately capital at the Bytown Museum. Housed inside the oldest building in Ottawa, this museum tells the city’s story through displays of weapons, uniforms and other antique artifacts.

Bytown was established in 1826 as a place to house the men building the Rideau Canal. The town was named after its founder, British Lieutenant-Colonel John By, who was supervising the canal’s construction. Admire the grey stone exterior of the historic Commissariat building, which houses the museum. Erected in 1827, it was originally used as a storehouse for materials and equipment used in building the canal and also served as a military depot.

Explore the museum’s first floor, which features an exhibition on the construction of the Rideau Canal. Look for British military uniforms from Lt.-Colonel By’s time. On the second floor, learn about Bytown’s rough days as a lumber village. A town of pubs and street brawls, Bytown earned a reputation as one of the most violent places in Britain’s North American colonies. Explore displays of period weapons, including pistols and rifles.

On the third floor, see how Bytown developed into the respectable capital city of Ottawa. See examples of the luxurious clothing worn by the Ottawan bourgeoisie during the Victorian age. Stop by the gift shop to buy a souvenir of your visit, such as a silk scarf hand-painted by Canadian artists.

Explore the area around the museum to see one of the most picturesque views in Ottawa. Next to the museum, boat locks climb up from the Ottawa River to the Rideau Canal. On either side of the locks, spot two of Ottawa’s landmarks, Parliament Hill and Château Laurier.

Located just next to the political center of Ottawa, the Bytown Museum is easily accessible by bus. During the winter, the museum is closed on Mondays, but it is open daily throughout the rest of the year. The fee for entry includes an audio guide.


Guide to Exploring around Bytown Museum


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Lodging Near Bytown Museum

See all 133 Hotels near Bytown Museum
$83
Capital Hill Hotel and Suites

Capital Hill Hotel and Suites

88 Albert St, Ottawa
3.5
of 5, from 3,488 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

This downtown Ottawa hotel is 2 blocks from Parliament Hill; 1 block from the National Arts Centre; 5 blocks from Byward Market.

$156
Andaz Ottawa Byward Market - a concept by Hyatt

Andaz Ottawa Byward Market - a concept by Hyatt

325 Dalhousie Street, Ottawa
4.7
of 5, from 517 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in ByWard Market, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Byward Market Square and National Gallery of Canada. Parliament Hill and University of Ottawa are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$74
The Business Inn

The Business Inn

180 MacLaren Street, Ottawa
4.4
of 5, from 3,082 reviews
2.5 out of 5.0

Located in Centretown, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Chocolate Cove and University of Ottawa. Parliament Hill and National Gallery of Canada are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$98
Albert At Bay Suite Hotel

Albert At Bay Suite Hotel

435 Albert St, Ottawa
4.6
of 5, from 3,131 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Located in downtown Ottawa, this all-suite hotel is 2 blocks from the Sparks Street Mall and 3 blocks from Parliament Hill; the Museum of Civilization and ByWard Market are both 10 blocks away.

$159
Fairmont Chateau Laurier

Fairmont Chateau Laurier

1 Rideau St, Ottawa
4.4
of 5, from 2,234 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Rising above the Rideau Canal, this French Renaissance-style hotel is regally situated next door to Parliament, across the street from the ByWard Market, and within walking distance of many museums.

$133
Lord Elgin Hotel

Lord Elgin Hotel

100 Elgin St, Ottawa
4.2
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4.0 out of 5.0

Situated amid Elgin Street's restaurants and nightlife and 1 block from Rideau Canal, the landmark Lord Elgin Hotel is within 4 blocks of Parliament House and the Ottawa Shaw Centre.

$121
Les Suites Hotel Ottawa

Les Suites Hotel Ottawa

130 Besserer St, Ottawa
4.2
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3.5 out of 5.0

Les Suites Hotel, Ottawa is in the city centre, just steps from the Ottawa Convention Centre, Rideau Shopping Centre, and ByWard Market, and a short distance to Parliament Hill.

$114
Ottawa Embassy Hotel & Suites

Ottawa Embassy Hotel & Suites

25 Cartier St, Ottawa
3.6
of 5, from 1,915 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

The 11-story Embassy Hotel and Suites is located in the downtown area, one block from Rideau Canal and six blocks from Parliament Hill.