Trip Planner:   Canada  /  Ontario  /  Ottawa  /  Bytown Museum

Bytown Museum, Ottawa

4.1
#6 of 17 in Museums in Ottawa
At Bytown Museum, learn more about the history and construction of the Rideau Canal, as well as Ottawa's formative years. Opened in 1832, the canal connected the Ontario cities of Ottawa and Kingston--a precautionary measure in the event of a war with the United States. The ease of access between the cities would theoretically open up tactical waterways for ferrying infantry and cargo; today, it exists mainly as a leisurely boating canal. Take an informative guided tour to enhance your visit with stories and insight. Add Bytown Museum and other attractions to your Ottawa trip itinerary using our Ottawa sightseeing planner.
Create an itinerary including Bytown Museum
map
Bytown Museum Reviews
Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
189 reviews
Google
4.1
TripAdvisor
  • This small, but perfectly formed museum is worth visiting both for its stunning location in city centre Ottawa as well as the interesting and Informative audio commentary on the history of the city. H...  more »
  • Relive the major stages in the construction of the Rideau canal and the founding of Bytown. Allow 2-3 hours for all to see.
    View original
  • We nearly missed this cozy little place - almost walked by! Glad we didn't. I might be biased, as this was the first museum we went to, and I was bound to enjoy it, but the place struck me as one with...  more »
Google
  • The staff were so kind! Really put a smile on my face! Thank you so much for all your help to the staff on duty at 2:30pm June 19th. -Skateboarder
  • A small place with a truckload of information. Nice, but not a must-visit.
  • After “considerable talk among the ladies of the city” about the preservation of Ottawa’s rich cultural heritage, the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa was formed in June of 1898. With the motto of “Love Thou Thy Land” their goal was “to encourage the collection and preservation of Canadian historical records and relics and to foster Canadian loyalty and patriotism.” The WCHSO laid the foundation for what would later become the BYTOWN MUSEUM. The early years of the WCHSO consisted of the writing historical papers, regular meetings and “Loan Exhibitions” – displays that brought together artefacts from the private collections of the members and local history enthusiasts. By 1917 the burgeoning WCHSO was in dire need of a permanent home. After years of wandering, the former City Registry Office, located at 70 Nicholas Street, was acquired and renamed the Bytown Historical Museum. The Museum was opened on October 25, 1917 by Mayor Harold Fisher as “a museum for relics and souvenirs;” celebrating the occasion with its most comprehensive loans exhibition yet. Many of the items loaned would become some of the first permanent accessions into the collection, allowing the WCHSO to finally begin to fulfill its original mandate to collect and preserve. After years of collecting, with a boom in the 1930s, the WCHSO was once again on the lookout for a larger more suitable home. In 1948 the Commissariat at the Ottawa Locks was proposed. Significant funds were raised to make urgent repairs to the dilapidated building and the WCHSO took possession of the building in September of 1951. Despite being described as “encrusted with century-old dust and grime” with deteriorated plaster, a leaking roof and an inadequate electrical system, the Building Committee report described the Commissariat as the “perfect setting for the BYTOWN MUSEUM.” After much needed renovations, the BYTOWN MUSEUM opened its doors in the Commissariat (our present location) on June 27, 1952. The Society opened its membership to men and changed its name to the Historical Society of Ottawa in 1956. unescoThe 1980s was an era of exciting growth for the HSO; first with the inaugural publication of the Bytown Pamphlet Series and later, under the leadership of their new landlord, Parks Canada, the complete renovation and restoration of the Commissariat between 1982 and 1984. When the Museum reopened in 1985 BYTOWN MUSEUM Treasures highlighted key artefacts and recent acquisitions including some of our most iconic pieces.
  • Great little museum. Entrance fee is low and there's a lot of info packed in for it's size.
  • A great little museum. Gave a good history of the area that I didn't know about (I'm just visiting Canada). The exhibit on the parliament fires is really interesting too. Well worth a visit. Entry is cheap and it takes about an hour or two to get around.

Plan your trip to Ottawa

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Where to stay in Ottawa

For the best access to restaurants and shops, stay in the historic central neighborhood of ByWard Market, where you can choose from a range of comfortable hotels. Options also abound just south of the canal in Centretown, where you can enjoy easy access to the best attractions in Ottawa. You can explore the city's diverse heritage by staying in one of its many cultural hubs--Chinatown, Little Italy, and Quartier Vanier offer a distinctive taste of China, Italy, and France respectively.
Live like a local, find unique places to stay
Millions of travel reviews on TripAdvisor

Plans in Ottawa by other users

25 days in Canada BY A USER FROM MALDIVES September, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: September, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 22 days in Canada, Seattle & Fairbanks BY A USER FROM MALDIVES September, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, wildlife, slow & easy, popular PREFERENCES: September, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, historic sites, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Slow & easy 26 days in United States & Canada BY A USER FROM ARGENTINA April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Ottawa BY A USER FROM CANADA January, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: January, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 22 days in Canada BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA August, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: August, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 19 days in Ottawa BY A USER FROM CANADA December, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife, slow & easy, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: December, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 7 days in Canada BY A USER FROM PUERTO RICO January, culture, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: January, culture, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Canada BY A USER FROM PUERTO RICO January, culture, historic sites, museums, wildlife, popular PREFERENCES: January, culture, historic sites, museums, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 12 days in Canada BY A USER FROM CANADA December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 54 days in Canada, New York City & Los Angeles BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 60 days in Canada & New York City BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 8 days in Ottawa BY A USER FROM CANADA December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
View more plans