The ByWard Market is one of Ottawa's most historical neighbourhoods, established by Lieutenant Colonel John By in 1826, while building the Rideau Canal, and has and eclectic mix of businesses, specialty shops , galleries, bars, and restaurants. Colonel By laid out the street plan, making George and York Street wide enough for a public market and gathering place.
Ottawa grew because of British demand for lumber in the early 1800s, with mills springing up along all the rivers. And settled by French Canadian and Irish labourers. Until the War of 1812 against the US, which cut the British from the St Lawrence, which connected Montreal and Kingston, after which, the British started building the Rideau Canal to supply Upper Canada. The canal by-passed the Rideau Falls, and made Ottawa a commercially important city, and commerce spread along Sussex and Rideau. Once the railway reached Ottawa in the 1850s, the Market also had a rail yard, which was closed down in the1960s. The ByWard Market evolved to become a trendy place to shop, and celebrate, and the addition of Rideau Centre made the area more contemporary.
The area has recently seen strong residential growth in both luxury Ottawa condos to affordable rental housing, especially to the northeast of the Market. The area north of Rideau Street is called Lowertown, and is bisected by six lane King Edward Avenue, which connects to the interprovincial MacDonald Cartier Bridge to Gatineau, Quebec. To the south, Nicholas connects the area to the Queensway/417.
There is a mix of low-rise homes, and medium-density condos and apartment buildings
Lowertown is a relatively older neighbourhood, but is undergoing some redevelopment in recent years. Many (20%) of the homes pre-date 1946, 33% of homes were built 1946 - 1970, 35% built between 1971 and 1990. Because of the recent re-development, 4% of homes were built between 1991 and 2000, and 9% were built after 2001. Of Byward market-Lowertown's 6,700 dwellings, 2% of these are single family detached, 3% are semi-detached, 15% are row houses, 3% are apartment duplexes, 54% are high-rise apartments (over 5 stories), and 23% are low-rise apartments. The majority (80%) of residents are renters and 20% own their homes.
Byward Market is a relatively older neighbourhood, which continues to experience development. 25.9% of the homes were built before 1946, 18.3% were built between 1946 and 1970, 17.6% were built between 1971 and 1980, 17% were built between 1981 and 1990, and 21% were built after 1991.
Just to the south of Lowertown is the extensive campus of the bilingual University of Ottawa, which extends south to the Queensway.
Lots of Shopping is nearby along Rideau Street and Byward Market, as well as in Rideau Centre.
The area has access to recreational pathways along the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers, and is home to many national museums and historical buildings and churches. The best views in the city are from Major's Hill Park (also home to many summer festivals).