The Ottawa Region has always been an important location in Canada, due to its accessibility from the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence River and the Ottawa River. This made Ottawa a hub for Canada’s indigenous peoples to fish, trade, travel, and set up temporary camps.
In the 1800s when Europeans began to permanently settle in the area, Ottawa quickly became an important military holding for the British. Taking advantage of its geographic location, the British began constructing the northerly end of the Rideau Canal, which would provide a secure route between Montreal and Kingston on Lake Ontario, without potentially subjecting British forces to enemy fire from the Americans, who were fortified in upper New York State along the St. Lawrence River during the War of 1812.
In the 1950s, French architect-planner Jacques Greber was hired by then Prime Minister Mackenzie King to design an urban plan for managing development in the National Capital Region to make it more aesthetically pleasing, and more befitting of being the capital of Canada. Greber's plan included the creation of the National Capital Greenbelt; the Parkway; the Queensway highway system; the relocation of downtown Union Station (now the Government Conference Centre) to the suburbs; the decentralization of selected government offices; and the relocation of industries.
On January 1, 2001, Ottawa amalgamated all the municipalities of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton into a single city.