You are in Major's Hill Park, which has remained unchanged since 1826 as a peaceful green oasis at the junction of iconic historic sites such as the Rideau Canal locks and the Parliament Buildings.
The park kept its original vocation despite its name change.
It was originally named after Lieutenant Colonel By. When he arrived in Canada as the Superintending Engineer for the construction of the Rideau Canal, he had a house built for himself and his family within the military compound overlooking the entrance to the canal. Over the years, the site of the house became known as “Colonel's Hill”.
Upon his return to England in 1832, his second in command, Major Daniel Bolton of the Royal Engineers, replaced him and moved into his house. The site became known as 'Major's Hill' and has retained this name despite the successive replacements of commanders who have taken up residence in the house.
In 1867, large fireworks and bonfire displays took place to celebrate Canada and these led to the official recognition of the park in 1875! The park was later developed for the public by the National Capital Commission in honour of Major Bolton.
Although Lieutenant Colonel By lost his title in the park's naming, it is still commemorated by a statue, erected in 1971, by sculptor Joseph-Émile Brunet. The monument is located near the Chateau Laurier and overlooks the canal locks as if Lieutenant Colonel By was admiring his work there…
Interestingly, the sculptor, Mr. Brunet, was nearly 80 years old when the statue was built! Creation has no age.
The house where Colonel By and Major Bolton lived has left remnants, including greenhouses, located at the north end of the park, the last part of the greenhouse complex being dismantled in 1937-1938. If you have a craving for a local beer, the Greenhouse currently houses a bar and canteen serving local food during the summer months.
The park offers beautifully landscaped paths where its majestic trees and flowers will charm you. Today, residents come here to picnic, lounge, and play. Take in the incredible view of the city's most beautiful historic buildings and the Ottawa River! Parliament, the locks, the U.S. Embassy, the National Gallery, and the Fairmont Château Laurier.
You might even get a chance to see the tulips in bloom in the spring! Not to be missed if you are here during this season of rebirth.
A true princess story…
The reason why the City of Ottawa is completely covered with tulips in the spring is a beautiful princess story.
When the Netherlands was invaded during World War II, Dutch Princess Juliana and her family had to flee. Juliana and her two young daughters chose Canada, an Allied country and a safe haven from the conflict. All three received a warm welcome in Ottawa, where they lived for the duration of the war.
In 1943, the link between Canada and the Netherlands was further strengthened when the Princess's third daughter, Margriet, was born at the Ottawa Civic Hospital as the war raged across the Atlantic and misery, oppression and famine stalked Europe.
The Allied support was very important in bringing the fighting to an end. Canadians played an important role in this liberation and as a sign of gratitude, the Dutch sent thousands of tulip bulbs to the government, which soon became an annual tradition that now attracts thousands of visitors.