Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The Humble Beginnings Of Ottawa

 The Ottawa Locks have a series of structures around them as they climb the slope away from the river. Some, like the Commissariat, are still here. Others, like the similar structure on the east side of the Canal, are long gone. The lockmaster station at the top of the locks dates to the later part of the 19th century, while Sappers' Bridge was long since replaced by Plaza Bridge, though some of its foundation stones can still be seen today if you're beneath Plaza Bridge.

Historical plaques, in English and French, are mounted on the wall of the staircase going up to the second floor. 

Here at the top of the stairs, plaques and displays note the presence of First Nations people through the Ottawa Valley for thousands of years.

These stone tools are a testament to their presence.

The Museum tells its story- of how with the building of the Canal, the town known as Bytown became a violent lumber town, but changed into the national capital after those turbulent early decades.

By would found the city, since it was the starting point of his Canal. After it was all done, he would return to Britain under a cloud of scandal for going over budget, and die soon after. However, he had done it because it had to be done or the project would have faltered, and history has vindicated him entirely. He'd be pleased to know his Canal is a World Heritage Site. This over-sized bust of him is here.

As mentioned before, the War of 1812 was a big factor in the decision to build the Canal. Tensions with our southern neighbours was common through the first half of the 19th century, ending after the Civil War.

This cannonball was shot from Ogdensburg in New York across the St. Lawrence at Fort Wellington. British defenders picked it up and fired it back. Now it rests here.

This is Colonel By's travel trunk. He and his wife came to British North America for the building of the Canal.

It was the men who did the hard work, overlooked at the time, but what they did was an engineering marvel.

By had commissioned cups to be given to some of the men who led work in their respective areas. This is the Drummond Cup, given to Robert Drummond, whose work area was around Kingston Mills.


  1. It seems almost every infrastructure project always goes over the budget

  2. Great museum and exhibit. Take care, have a great day!

  3. We need a few of those over-budget watchdogs that By had to deal with!

    1. In this case, the watchdogs were wrong, and history has left them forgotten.

  4. Impressive bust. Sad he never knew.

  5. A lot of Eastern Ontario places seem to have very humble beggings.

  6. ...perhaps humble beginnings, but it developed into something grand.

  7. I really knew nothing about the canal so thanks for the education, William.

  8. What a nice exhibiition and lots of info. Good place for people and young students to visit and learn the history of Ottawa.

  9. Another great historical post about Ottawa ~ neat photos too ~ thanks,

    Wishing you good health, laughter and love in your days,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  10. Thanks for history of ancient place which has certainly changed through the hands of man.

  11. Interesantes testimonios de su historia.

  12. Very interesting! I enjoy knowing more about Ottawa and the canal. The third language is a native first nation language? Aloha!

  13. It looks a nice exhibition.

    All the best Jan