A fresh guide to help know Ottawa’s neighbourhoods

Very soon it will be three years since I moved to Ottawa from Lima in Peru, and I must confess that I still sometimes find it difficult to get around the city without an app like Google Maps or Waze.

I recognize my own neighborhood and its main streets and avenues, but there are still lots of areas and neighborhoods in Ottawa where I’ve never been, and even downtown is still a sort of maze to me.

For example, I’ve often heard people speak about Centretown, Lowertown, or the Golden Triangle, but I can not visualize these areas in my mind. So that gave me the idea of doing some research to finally identify these very well-known parts of Ottawa.

If you’re a newcomer to Ottawa and you don’t know much about the capital’s neighborhoods, this post could be useful. And if you don’t live in Ottawa but you’re interested in moving to the city, you’ll find information about where the nicest places are.

Downtown Ottawa is home to many of the government buildings, including Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court. It also has many buildings and office towers that contain various government departments. There are also apartments, hotels, and condominiums as well as older single-family homes and townhouses along the edges. Properties in downtown are expensive.

Lowertown is a neighborhood to the east of downtown, and is the oldest part of the city. It includes the commercial Byward Market in the south-western part and is predominantly residential in the north and east. In some areas there are some homeless shelters, that’s why there are a number of homeless who congregate there.

Byward Market

Centretown. Traditionally all of Ottawa west of the Rideau Canal was known as Centretown, while Lowertown was everything to the east. Centretown is a mix of residential and commercial properties. It’s located right in the middle of everything, with restaurants, shops, tourist attractions and offices, all within walking distance. Much of the area still consists of original single-family homes, but there are also townhouses and low-rise and high-rise apartment buildings.

Sandy Hill is located just east of downtown. It’s a historical neighborhood that attracts people who study at the University of Ottawa. It is home to some embassies, residences, parks, and historic churches such as All Saints Anglican, St. Alban’s Anglican, St. Clement Catholic, St. Paul’s Eastern United, and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

The Golden Triangle is a sub-neighborhood of Centretown. It borders Elgin Street to the west, and the Rideau Canal to the east. The main street is Elgin where there are stores, boutiques, galleries, restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightclubs. But the biggest attraction is the Rideau Canal, where residents can walk, bike, and skate during the winter. The neighborhood is a mix of large, single-family homes along with a number of modern condominiums which can sell for almost two million dollars.

Glebe is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Ottawa. It’s an old neighborhood located just south of the downtown area. Many of the houses are detached homes at least 100 years old. At the end of May, this neighborhood hosts the most popular and massive garage sale in the city.

Westboro is an expensive neighborhood close to downtown. The houses there are usually old, but there are certain streets where the houses are being demolished to build luxury condos and duplexes worth more than one million dollars.

Old Ottawa South is located between the Rideau Canal to the north and the Rideau River to the south and it’s an upper-middle-class area. The houses have architecture typical of the early 20th century and many of them are included in Ottawa’s heritage list. Its proximity to Carleton University attracts professors and students.

View of the Rideau Canal in Old Ottawa South
Rideau Canal in Old Ottawa South

Old Ottawa East has a privileged location. It’s located between the Rideau Canal and the Rideau river, which gives to its residents beautiful public spaces to enjoy. It has a long history that goes back to the 19th Century. The houses are usually old, but in recent years there has been growth of new housing projects and buildings close to the river.

Hintonburgh is located to the west of Ottawa and it’s a mix of heritage buildings, recent additions, and businesses like restaurants, shops, boutiques, and spas. Cultural entrepreneurs are attracted to the area, which is known as the art district. It hosts remarkable art events like the annual urban fair, ArtsPark, with its musical and theatrical performances.

More about Hintonburg: https://ottawaisnotboring.com/2020/11/03/hintonburg-ottawas-hipster-neighborhood/

Rockcliffe Park is the wealthiest neighborhood in Ottawa. It’s located on the north side of the city and is primarily a residential community. The predominant type of houses here are glamorous mansions costing up to five million dollars. The area is home to many ambassadors’ residences.

This time I focused on just ten neighborhoods, the closest to downtown Ottawa, but in a second part, I’ll continue outlining the other areas of the city. I hope you enjoy reading it. If you feel like commenting or adding to the information please feel free. Take care.

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8 thoughts on “A fresh guide to help know Ottawa’s neighbourhoods

  1. Concise and interesting. You can build a child wooden puzzle out of it. From reading it, an outsider would think most of Ottawa costs a lot to live in…and it does in those neighborhoods! This is why most people in the “town” actually live in the next layers of area around the city, still not that far. I am looking forward to your next post. and for the “outsiders”: stay tuned!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too have been here for 3 years now and I still feel like I am visiting.

    It would be interesting if you did an expansion article that covers other areas. For example, Westboro and Hintonburgh are right next to each other, in fact the same street passes through both but is called Richmond on the Westboro side and Wellington West on the Hintonburgh side. Theres also Carlington, Carlingwood that are close to Westboro and Hintonburgh but less fancy, folllowed by the rest of Nepean. Old Ottawa South is followed by Altavisa and the SouthKeys/Huntclub area (the latter is closer to the airport), and there is a large arab community there. Further out are areas like Gloucester (after Old Ottawa South and Huntclub), Kanata (after westboro and pinecrest), and Orleans (further east of the highway past sandy hill etc).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this blog. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s challenging to get that “perfect balance” between usability and appearance. I must say that you’ve done a excellent job with this. Also, the blog loads super quick for me on Chrome. Superb Blog!

    Liked by 1 person

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