Ottawa-Gatineau Driving & Navigating Around Town information, listings and links
The major approaches into the city are:
- From the east: Highway 417, the Trans-Canada Highway, from Montreal, and highway 17 which meanders through charming communities along the Lower Ottawa River.
- From the south, highway 416 brings you from Prescott, Highway 401, and Ogdensburg (NewYork) to the city's West End & Bell's Corners. Highway 16 takes you from Prescott through smaller rural communities onto prince of Wales Drive.
- From Toronto: highway 7 connects to the Queensway's west end.
- From the west (Sudbury through to Vancouver) you arrive on highway 17, which turns into 417 near Carp.
- From Quebec on the north site of the Ottawa River, you would arrive on highway 148, which turns into Route 50 at Masson, a few kilometres east of Hull.
In the city, the Queensway provides the fastest way to get between parts of the city, and also doubles as a major transit corridor. The best routes into downtown from the Queensway are Kent Street or Nicholas Street (toward Rideau & the Byward Market).
The city has a number of scenic parkways that move you both quickly and scenically from downtown to another part of the city: The Ottawa River Parkway to the city's West End, the Vanier Parkway to Vanier and Billing Bridge, Rockcliffe Parkway to Rockcliffe and Orleans. Other parkways connect other parts of the city: Aviation Parkway in the east, Island Park Drive in the west, Colonel By Drive and Queen Elizabeth Way along the Rideau Canal, and the Gatineau Parkway in Quebec. On Sunday mornings between 9 am and 12 noon, the Colonel By and Ottawa River parkways are closed to vehicular traffic and open for cyclists and inline skaters in the summer months (Victoria Day to Labour Day).
Use Parliament Hill to orient yourself in the downtown area. The Rideau Canal bisects the city into east and west, and the Ottawa River divides Ontario and Quebec. You should try to avoid the morning and afternoon rush hours 7:30 to 9 am and 4 to 6;30 pm, as well as the lunch crunch from noon to 1:30 pm. Wellington Street, which passes Parliament Hill magically turns into Rideau Street east of the Canal (Similarly, Baseline Rd turns into Heron Rd at the canal, and then after 4 km into Walkley Rd.) Sussex Drive connects Parliament Hill and the Rockliffe Area, and is the location of major museums, monuments and attractions. Wellington, Sussex and Laurier (in Hull) are also referred to as "Confederation Drive" for their historical significance.
Rivers & Bridges
There are several bridges connecting Ottawa to Hull. From west to east: Champlain, Chaudiere, du Portage, Alexandra, and Macdonald Cartier. To the east of the city, you can cross the river by ferry at Cumberland-Masson, or by bridge at Hawkesbury-Grenville. To the west, you can cross by ferry at Fitzroy Harbour-Quyon or by bridge at Chenaux (to Shawville) and at Pembroke.
Bilingual Road Signs
The street names are generally marked in both official languages, so be careful not to get confused. Usually the English descriptor (Street, Avenue) is after the name, while the French one is before the name. Some streets appear to have "completely different" names in French, like "Queen Elizabeth Driveway" is "promenade Reine-Elizabeth" which is the French translation.
For Americans or anglo-Canadians, use the following pronunciations for French street and place names:
Quirks: You can make right turns on red, except in Quebec, though the Quebec Government is currently testing changing this in limited areas. Gas stations in the downtown area tend to close by 7pm, though the suburban ones are often open 24 hours.