The city of Ottawa is the capital of Canada and is located on the Ottawa River on Ontario's eastern boundary with Québec. The city is located on the traditional territory of the Algonquin, a group closely related to the Odawa and the Ojibwa. The Ottawa river which runs along the city was the main fishing and hunting location of the Algonquin before European settlement. Today, the site in which the parliament buildings stand, are situated on this traditional territory.1
In 1608, Etienne Brûlée became the first European explorer in this region. He was followed five years later by Samuel de Champlain. From the 17th to the 19th century, the area around the Ottawa River served as the chief artery of the Montréal fur trade, it also served as a means to further exploration into the interior of the country.2 Without a railway system, waterways, such as the Ottawa River, served as the primary means for communication and transportation.
In 1800, the first permanent settlement was established by New Englander Philemon Wright. In 1827, a “considerable town” name Bytown was developed -- this town would later become Ottawa and in 1855 it was incorporated as a city. In 1857, Ottawa was announced as the capital of the province and in 1867 after Canada's confederation it became the capital of the new Dominion of Canada.3 Throughout the 1800s, Ottawa became known for its timber trade and later for having one of the largest milling operations in the world.
The land in which the city is situated is Algonquin territory as there have been no signed treaties with the Algonquin First Nation concerning their land. The only treaty signed in regards to this land was not done with the Algonquins, but with the Mississaugas. This treaty took away traditional Algonquin hunting grounds without their knowledge or consent. Therefore, all Algonquin land -- which includes the city of Ottawa -- is unceded.4
The Algonquin First Nation have stated that: our people never surrendered these lands […], and that the symbol of the Wampum belt -- that Indigenous Peoples will alway be recognized as the leaders of their homeland -- has not been recognized.5
  • 1. John Taylor, Ottawa, The Canadian Encyclopedia ; Peter di Gangi, Algonquin Territory, Canada's History, 30 April 2018.
  • 2. Taylor, Ottawa.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Di Gangi, Algonquin Territory.
  • 5. Ibid.
Mentions of this place in the documents
Places in this document