Ottawa-Gatineau Community Information

Here are some basic facts about Ottawa:


The city is located on the Ottawa River, on the border between Ontario and Quebec. Ottawa is about 400 km northeast of Toronto and about 200 km west of Montreal, and lies on highway 17/417, the /Transportation-Canada Highway through Ontario. The city is at 45 degrees 16 minutes North latitude and 75 degrees 45 min. West longitude, and lies 347 feet above sea level. We are in Eastern standard time, the same as Toronto and New York, and 6 hours earlier than western Europe.


The city take its name from the Indian word, Outaouak, the name of the Algonquin Indian tribe, which settled and traded at the junction of the Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau rivers.


Ottawa-Carleton on the Ontario side and Aylmer, Gatineau & Hull on the Quebec side has a total population of 1.05 million, about half are anglophone, 1/3 are francophone.

Ontario is the most populous of Canada's provinces, and was one of the original provinces in Canada's Confederation in 1867. Ontario has 11 million residents in its 1,100,000 square kilometres (413,000 sq miles). Ottawa is 400 kilometres (240 miles) northeast of the province's capital city, Toronto.


The major industries in Ottawa reflects are government and technology, reflecting its position as the seat of Cnadian government, and its moniker of "Silicon Valley North", home to many leading computer, telecommunications, and software companies.


It boasts an average of 2,059 hours of sunshine annually but because of its northern climate can expect snow in any month with an "R" in it (think "an R means Brrrr"). Average temperature in January is -10C . Summer is hot and humid warm and dry with average temperatures of 21C. Average annual rainfall is 733 mm (about 29 inches), and average monthly summer rainfall is about 85 cm (3 inches). In the summer time, you can generally expect hot and sunny weather, with occasional precipitation. In the fall and spring time, expect cooler weather and cloud. The winters are typical of northern Canada, being both continuous and generally cold. Travellers should wear sweaters in fall, and appropriate warm coats and boots in the winter. Ottawa gets about 200 cm of snow each winter, with average snow depth of 20-25 cm over the winter (drifts and plowed heaps are higher!)

Average daily temperatures are:




























An approximate guide to Celsius Temperatures is as follows:

Metric-Imperial temperature conversion chart

Ottawa's weather ranges dramatically over the seasons. In the summer, it hot & sticky (the humidity comes from the Gulf of Mexico, not Lake Ontario as is commonly believed) with warm nights, and in the winter it is cold, with snow lasting from end of November until mid-April. Winter snowstorms can come quickly and often bury cars overnight (locals consider any snowfall under a foot a "dusting"). Spring comes quickly as the snowdrifts melt and tulips pop up into bloom. In the fall, as nights get longer, the leaves turn into a brilliant range of colours, as sap returns to the roots with declining overnight temperatures.


Some hotels include tips or gratuities with group programs to simplify bookkeeping. This will usually include gratuities for housekeeping, bell service and food service. In a hotel, bell service should be tipped about $1 per bag, and housekeeping $1 to $5 dollars a day (in proportion to your room rate). Visitors should know that the standard tip in restaurants is 10%-15% (on restaurant bills, an average tip will be 50% higher the GST & tax), with 20% (about double the GST & tax) for very outstanding service. This is especially important for visitors from countries where tipping on meals is not done: here the waitering staff depend on tips for a significant portion of their incomes. Tip taxis about 10%, and a dollar a bag they carry for you (not just unload), or at the very least round fares up to the nearest dollar.