Ontario's Historical Plaques 


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Canada's Capital

Canada's Capital

Photos by Alan L Brown - Posted June, 2009

Canada's Capital

Plaque Location

The City of Ottawa
On the north side of Wellington Street
across from Metcalfe Street


Coordinates: N 45 25.414 W 75 41.885

Map

Plaque Text

After the union of the two Canadas in 1841, Kingston, Montréal, Toronto, and Québec were in succession the seat of government. During the 1850's these cities contended for designation as the permanent capital of Canada. When called upon in 1857, Queen Victoria resolved the issue by choosing Ottawa. In 1867, the Fathers of Confederation reaffirmed the choice and Ottawa became the capital of the new Dominion of Canada.

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Here are the visitors' comments for this page.

> Posted December 31, 2014
On the news today came a report saying that on this day, December 31, in 1857, Ottawa was selected as Canada's capital by Queen Victoria. Well, yes, and then no. It's a popular conception, but not quite true. As this plaque mentions, the choice was to select a capital for the Province of Canada, not the federal Dominion. That historic province--sometimes called the United Canadas--would become Ontario and Quebec within a new country, but not for another 10 years.
The Queen's "decision" (later debated as a recommendation) was made after entries were reviewed by the cities noted on this marker. Omitted is the City of Hamilton, whose submission was impressive, and which hoped it might win as an outside choice; a place which had not hosted revolving governments like the others. In any case, Ottawa had its supporters, namely Richard Scott and Edmund Head. Their names should be known ahead of Victoria's as the ones most responsible for the choice. It was they, and others in cabinet, who swayed the decision. But again, this was for a *provincial* capital.
When news of the Queen's "choice" was announced, there was uproar, and not only in the cities which were bypassed. In the legislature, there was such disapproval that the selection of Ottawa was rejected. John A. Macdonald staked his coalition on the choice, and his government fell with the vote. Only later, once he regained power, was Ottawa chosen. Shouldn't that government be given credit for the choice, then, and not Victoria?
Within the decade, the Province of Canada would cease to exist, when talk turned to a union of provinces. It wasn't until 1865 that Ottawa was selected as the future *national* capital, this time by others whose names should also be known. But they aren't. Instead, Victoria gets credit for something she didn't even do.
-Wayne




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