Ottawa, being Canada’s capital has a number of museums that showcase the nation’s history and heritage. Not ALL of these are managed by the federal government (or its crown corporations). For those that ARE, be sure to visit on Museums Day (early May) or Canada Day (July 1) when all admission charges are waived.
You should also check out the many local interest museums reflecting Ottawa’s history and heritage.
Canadian Aviation Museum
11 Aviation Parkway, Rockcliffe, K1K 4R3
613-993-2010 fax: 613-990-3655 1-800-63-2038 (Canada only)
This museum is home to Canada’s top aeronautical exhibits, and among the best in the world, with a collection of 120 aircraft from the early 1900s, warplanes from both World Wars, jets, and bush planes. Open May 1 to Labour Day daily 9 am to 5 pm, Remainder of year Tues-Sun 10 am to 5 pm, Thursday 10 am to 9 pm. Admission. (OC Transpo #129)
Canada Agriculture Museum
Corner of Prince of Wales & Experimental Farm Drives, Ottawa K1G 5A3
613-991-3044 fax: 613-993-7923
Visit pigs, draft horses, sheep and cattle, and see exhibit on the making of bread. Animal barns open year-round 9 am to 5pm; Exhibits open mar to October 9 am to 5 pm. Also visit the Arboretum and the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, both on the east side of Prince of Wales Drive. Admission. (3-15)(OC Transpo #3)
Canada Children’s Museum
100 Laurier St, Hull
Housed inside the Canadian Museum of Civilization, this is one of the largest Children’s museums in the world. Travel around the world in hands-on interactive displays, and visit an Egyptian pyramid, make Mexican tortillas, and walk through a forest. Open to kids up to age 14. Open mid May to mid-October daily 9 am to 6 pm (9 pm on Thursdays); rest of year daily 9 am to 5 pm (closed Mondays). Admission. Sunday admission is free 9 am to noon.
Canada and the World Pavilion
11 Sussex Drive at Rideau Falls Park, Ottawa
Many of Canada’s internationally recognized achievements are showcased in this pavilion, Ottawa’s former city hall. The building was designed by Moshe Safdie and was completed in 1993. Open mid-May to mid-October daily (except Tuesdays) 10 am to 5 pm (OC Transpo 3)
Canadian Museum of History
100 Laurier St, Hull, J8X 4H2
An architectural masterpiece, recognized for its curved edges and spaces, this museum showcases over a thousand years of Canadian history. Includes the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles, a Children’s Museum and the Postal Museum, and an IMAX theatre (extra cost). Open year round. July & August 10 am to 8 pm daily; rest of year Tues-Sun 10 am to 5pm, Thursdays to 8 pm. Admission adults $8, Students, seniors $7, children 2-12 $4 Family $20. (OC Transpo #8)
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography
1 Rideau Canal (on the west side of the Chateau Laurier Hotel)
613-990-8237 fax: 613-990-6542
Ottawa’s newest museum displays thousand of photographs showing a variety of exhibitions of Canadian photographers. The collection includes over 159,000 photos. You can also meet the artists, and attend workshops. Open May-Sept: daily 11 am to 5 pm (except Wed 4-8 pm, Thursday 11 am to 8 pm); rest of the year daily 11 am to 5 pm (Thursdays till 8 pm). Closed Mondays & Tuesdays. Admission by donation.
Canadian Museum of Nature
240 McLeod Street @ Metcalfe Street
PO Box 3443 Stn D, Ottawa, K1P6P4
613-566-4680 or 1-800-263-4433
Nearing the completion of its five-year renovation project, this museum, located right in the heart of downtown, still houses many treasures of Canada’s natural history. In our newly renovated west wing, take a 50-million-year journey in the Talisman Energy Fossil Gallery and discover the dramatic events that led to the end of the dinosaurs and rise of mammals. See Canadian mammals up close in beautiful dioramas in the Mammal Gallery and explore the amazing adaptations these animals have developed to survive. Observe hundreds of specimens in our bright and appealing Bird Gallery which serves as an interactive field guide – a kind of indoor bird-watching adventure. Visit our Discovery Zone and catch a nature movie in high definition. Watch for special exhibitions that vary form time to time. Museum hours: May 1 to Labour Day, open daily from 9 am to 6 pm (Wednesday and Thursday until 8 pm); rest of the year open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm, Thursday until 8 pm, closed Mondays (except holidays). Please note that the museum will be closed temporarily from October 5 to 30 (inclusive). Admission. Free admission on Saturday mornings until noon. (OC Transpo # 1,4,5,7,14).
Canadian Ski Museum
1960 Scott St, Ottawa
Traces the history of skiing from its European origins 5,000 years ago and it growth since being introduced to Canada 100 years ago. Equipment ranges from early settler’s skis with twisted birch bindings to recent racing skis. Lots of other photos, books and memorabilia on display. Open may – Sept Mon-Fri 9 am to 5 pm, Sat 10 am to 4 pm Sun 11 am to 4 pm closed rest of year.
Canadian Postal Museum
Located in side the Museum of Civilization, 100 Laurier St, Hull
See a variety of postal exhibits, including the first Canadian stamp, new high-tech machinery, rural mail boxes, and mail uniforms and mail bags over the years. There is also a multimedia theatre and art gallery. View every single Canadian stamp issued on CD-ROM.
Canadian War Museum
1 Vimy Place, Ottawa, K1R 1C2
LeBreton Flats area, at the corner of Booth Street and the Ottawa River Parkway, west of Parliament Hill.
819) 776-8600 or 1-800-555-5621, Fax: (819) 776-8623
Tells the story of Canada’s armed services through various conflicts from the colonial days in the 1600s, the War of 1812, World War I, World War II and recent peacekeeping missions. Displays include military aircraft, tanks and vehicles. You’ll learn about our heroes but also about the human costs or war, both at home and on the battlefield, and why Canada is so committed to peacekeeping missions. See displays of war art over the years, including by artists Alex Colville and the Group of Seven. Open year-round. May 1 to Thanksgiving open daily 9:30 am to 5pm (Thursdays toll 8 pm); rest of year Tuesday – Sunday 9:30 – 5 pm (Thursdays toll 8 pm). Admission fee includes Vimy House (OC Transpo 3, 306)
Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada
240 Sparks St (at Bank), Ottawa K1A 0G9
613-782-8914, fax: 613-782-7761
Explore the evolution of money around the world over the ages, using a variety of ways to store and exchange wealth to better understand various societies. Ancient currencies include those from China, Rome, and the Byzantine Empire. See Canadian currencies, including wampum, beaver pelts and playing cards. Open year-round Tuesday-Saturday 10:30 am to 5 pm, Sundays 1 pm – 5 pm. Open Mondays only from May 1 to labour Day. Admission cost, but free to educational programmes. (OC Transpo #1,2,3,4,7,8,16-97)
Museum of Canadian Scouting
1345 Baseline Rd
Exhibits display the history of scouting in Canada from the early 1900s. Open weekdays 9 am to 4:30. Closed Monday holidays and Nov 11th.
National Gallery of Canada
380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa
This dramatically modern glass-encased building uses dramatic natural lighting to showcase Canada’s and the art world’s great treasures. Over 1200 works in the permanent collection are on view. The museum’s construction includes the historic Rideau Chapel, along with its collection of sacred art and silver pieces. Of special interest are the collections of Old Masters and works by members of the Group of Seven. Open May 1 to Labour Day, daily 9 am to 5pm; rest of year: Tues – Sunday 9 am to 5 pm. Admission free for permanent exhibition, cost varies for special exhibits.
Ingenium, National Museum of Science and Technology
1867 St Laurent Blvd, Ottawa, K1G 5A3
(2.6 km south of Queensway)
613-991-3044 fax: 613-993-7923
This museum, with a full-size lighthouse out front devoted to the history, principles and applications of science and technology. It has hands-on exhibits and displays covering energy, communications, computers, and land, marine and space travel, and includes displays of steam locomotives, cars and domestic appliances over the years. Home to Engineering Hall of Fame. Open year-round except Christmas Day. Open daily May 1 – September 9 am to 5pm; remainder of year Tues-Sunday 9 am to 5 pm. Admission. (OC Transpo #85,86,111,144)
Vimy House (Open House)
221 Champagne Ave N, Ottawa (west end of LeBreton Flats)
Open daily mid-June to Labour Day
This facility is the collector’s storage, research facility for the War Museum, and includes a treasure trove of old cannon, a modern Chieftain tank and other armoured carriers, showing the evolution of military technology. Admission included with War Museum admission.