Located in the heart of downtown Ottawa, the Bytown Museum explores the stories of an evolving city and its residents from its early days as Bytown to present day Ottawa. The Museum is located at the Rideau Canal’s Ottawa locks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, between Parliament Hill and the Fairmont Château Laurier hotel — one of the most picturesque sites in the city.
The history of the Bytown Museum begins with the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa (WCHSO), founded in 1898. The WCHSO quickly amassed a collection of artifacts relating to the history of Bytown/Ottawa. It became apparent that a museum was required to house this impressive collection and in 1917 the Bytown Museum opened its doors.
In 1951, the Bytown Museum moved to its current home, the Commissariat. The building was a treasury and storehouse during the construction of the Rideau Canal. In 1956, the WCHSO admitted men for the first time and thus changed their name to the Historical Society of Ottawa (HSO). Today the museum is run independently from the HSO.
The Bytown Museum is Ottawa’s museum and explores the stories and values of an evolving city and its residents from its first inhabitants and the early days as Bytown to present day Ottawa. The Museum is committed to engaging our visitors and community in discovery and dialogue as we aim to deepen the many connections within and between our communities.
The Bytown Museum’s mandate is to collect, preserve, study and make accessible the material and cultural heritage of the Ottawa region’s multicultural and diverse history.
The Bytown Museum will provide the residents of Ottawa and visitors from abroad with a sense of identity and pride in Ottawa’s rich story. Through collections and programs, the Museum aspires to be a model of excellence in furthering knowledge and pride of place among diverse visitors of all ages.
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