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Parliament Hill is the political heart of Canada. Situated on a bluff overlooking the Ottawa River, it is actually a collection of three turn-of-the-century Gothic structures known as the East Block, Centre Block and West Block. The West Block and East Block contain the offices of Members of Parliament. The House of Commons and the Senate are located in the Centre Block, with its soaring Peace Tower.
An evening ghost walk is a fun way to learn more about Ottawa's history. Departing from D'Arcy McGee's Irish Pub on Sparks Street, the lantern-lit tour explores graveyards and old haunts during the 90-minute walk. Scary stories pertaining to historic landmarks are the only things that are going to jump out at you; there are no unexpected surprises en-route. The Haunted Walk is a great family night out. Wheelchairs are welcome, but some assistance getting over a few curbs may be necessary.
Offering four, informative tours around the city, Ottawa Walking Tours are extremely popular with visitors. The draw card of the company is the Historical Highlights Walking Tour. Covering the history, architectural styles and present status of important historical landmarks like Parliament Hill, The Rideau Canal and Fairmont Chateau Laurier, the tour takes participants through a thorough visit of Ottawa’s Downtown Core neighborhood. You can also complement the tour by going on another one, called the Sussex Drive- Lowertown Walk. It explores the vibrant communities and their history and culture. Other tours include the Downtown Art Walk which is extremely popular with art lovers. Visitors get the chance to see a few displays of public art, learn about the artists and discuss its role in public life. They also have a special tour designed for elementary school students and allows children to get a glimpse into Canadian history while participating in various games and activities. Not only do the guides have vast-ranging knowledge of the places, people and events related to Ottawa and Canada, but they are also open to questions. Tours are available in three languages: English, French and Spanish and they can be customized to cater to your needs.
Cruising the Ottawa River or the Canal Rideau is a relaxing way to take in some of Ottawa's must-see sights. Established in 1936, by Paul Duhamel, Paul's Boat Lines offers a 90-minute cruise on the Ottawa River that departs from the Ottawa Locks and takes you by points of interest such as the Parliament Buildings, the Museum of Civilization and the Prime Minister's Residence. The cruise on the Canal Rideau takes 75 minutes and departs from the Conference Centre. Along the way you'll see the University of Ottawa, Lansdowne Park, the Experimental Farm, Dow's Lake and more. Boats depart daily from two locations: Hull Marina and Ottawa Locks.