More student groups visit Ottawa each year than any other Canadian city. Canada’s capital offers a wealth of national historic sites, museums and monuments that immerse students in the story of Canada’s past, present and future — with many concentrated in the city’s safe and walkable downtown core.
“For students, Ottawa offers a diverse range of ways to blow off a little steam — from cycling on our vast network of paved pathways, to adventure experiences and skating on the world’s largest rink, to festivals, sports and entertainment,” said Kelly Dean, travel trade sales manager for Ottawa Tourism. “For tour operators, the capital is an experienced host city, with accommodations, hospitality and services on the ground directly geared to student groups.”
Educators can match a visit to the curriculum. “If you’re teaching students about government and democracy, you can take them behind the scenes at the Parliament Buildings and Supreme Court of Canada,” Dean said.
National museums cover nearly every facet of Canada’s human, technological and natural history. Art teachers include the National Gallery of Canada on their itineraries.
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Canadian Museum of History
Discover the events, experiences, people and objects that have shaped Canada’s history. Marvel at the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles. The Canadian History Hall, the signature exhibition, lets students discover the events, personalities and historical currents of Canada — from time immemorial to the present. A wide range of school programs encourage students to pursue a deeper understanding of Canada’s history.
Canadian Museum of Nature
Visit Canada’s natural history museum, located in a beautiful castle in downtown Ottawa. Five floors of galleries include giant dinosaurs, a blue whale skeleton, dazzling minerals, Canadian birds and live insects. Get an in-depth look at the Arctic and touch real ice. Take the popular Gallery Highlights Tour or compare the characteristics of grizzlies and polar bears in the new Hands-On Polar Bear Tour. The museum offers curriculum-based workshops and live animal shows.
National Gallery of Canada
Located in the ByWard Market, the National Gallery of Canada is an architectural gem. Any visit is sure to be memorable, with one of the world’s largest sculptures, a spider, greeting students. Maman by Louise Bourgeois is part of the National Collection, which tells the remarkable stories that have shaped Canada. Tours and hands-on workshops, uniquely offered to student groups, give a new perspective. In-gallery drawing is a favorite student program.
Omega Park is where students discover Canada’s nature, fauna, history and culture in a unique way. Open year-round, the park offers several activities for all ages, such as a wolves’ presentation, animations and walking trails. In addition, accommodations such as tipis, a log cabin and a wolf cabin are available to extend the stay and sleep near wolves and bears. A brand-new illuminated walking trail — to discover nature in a night version — is open from spring to early fall.
Canadian War Museum
Students immerse themselves in a dynamic, hands-on experience sure to expand their knowledge of the conflicts that shaped Canada, Canadians and the world. Canada’s rich military history is showcased through artifacts, personal stories, artwork, photos and interactive presentations. Tour the extensive permanent and special exhibitions. Rest and reflect in Memorial Hall. Chat with a veteran to let history come alive. Also available are gallery activity sheets, workshops, guided tours, free group orientation programs in May/June and group menus at the cafeteria.