Ottawa Becomes the Capital

January 1858
City of Ottawa, Canada West by Stent and Laver, circa 1860 (prior to the Parliament Buildings). Source: Library and Archives Canada.Pinterest
City of Ottawa, Canada West by Stent and Laver, circa 1860 (prior to the Parliament Buildings). Source: Library and Archives Canada.

For years the seat of Parliament had been alternating every four years between Quebec City and Toronto, but this was costly and disruptive and a permanent capital was needed. Placing the capital in either Canada East (Quebec) or Canada West (Ontario) would provoke a furor. Macdonald put the question to Queen Victoria, and, in January 1858, word arrived that Queen Victoria had chosen Ottawa, known previously as Bytown. The monarch's choice was a prudent though unpopular one.