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National War Memorial in Ottawa. Right: Ottawa's castle the Chateau Laurier.

National War Memorial in Ottawa. Right: Ottawa's castle the Chateau Laurier.

If you're visiting the capital or are an Ottawa local, you can discover the city on foot with a free walking tour. You will be sure to hear unknown stories that aren't written in our history textbooks from alcoholic prime ministers to lumberjack gang violence.

Ottawa Free Tours offers two main tours, the Capital City Tour and the Ottawa After Dark Tour, mixing seedy history with popular landmarks and local insights. The Capital City Tour starts back up this spring on May 7.

Tour group on free walking tours of Ottawa. Tour group on free walking tours of Ottawa. Ottawa Free Tour

You'll see popular downtown landmarks including Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal and Chateau Laurier, learning stories about these places as well as some scandalous tales of the city and prominent people. You'll finish up in the Byward Market where the guide can point out great local spots to dine and visit.

This downtown tour is about two hours long covering roughly two-kilometres, and starts at the National War Memorial. They take place every Saturday in May and starting in June you can join them on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The evening Ottawa After Dark Tours will start up in July, showing you another side of Canada's history, not often highlighted. It runs one hour before the free summer light show on Parliament Hill so you can finish off with this glowing display. The guide will expose some prominent figures in the light show and talk about the history of women, Indigenous, Black, and LGBTQ+ Canadians and the important role they played in shaping our country.

The walking tours are a 'pay what you like' model and tipping the guides is encouraged. You'll uncover a whole new side of the city and the country. Who said history had to be boring?

Ottawa Free Tours

Free Ottawa After Dark Tour at Parliament Hill.

Free Ottawa After Dark Tour at Parliament Hill.

Ottawa Free Tour

Price: Free (tips appreciated)

When: Tours start May 7, 2022 until September

Address: Starting at The National War Memorial, Wellington St., Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: You can learn about Ottawa's colourful past and discover stories that you won't find laid out in a history textbook.

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    Megan Johnson
    Ottawa Staff Writer
    Megan Johnson is a Staff Writer for Narcity Canada's Ontario Desk focused on new netflix shows in Canada and things to do in Ottawa. She is based in Ottawa, Ontario.
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