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Wellington Street, Ottawa, K1P 5A4

The basics

The centerpiece of the Confederation Square, the National War Memorial, also known as “The Response,” dominates the space and serves as a major tourist attraction. Under the memorial’s granite arch stand bronze military figures representing the Canadians who fought in World War I. They are watched over by two figures representing peace and freedom mounted on the top of the arch.

Right in front of the National War Memorial is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a second monument that holds the remains of an unidentified soldier fallen during WWI in France. The soldier's remains were set to rest with full military honors, and the tomb, in the form of a granite sarcophagus, is intended to honor Canadians who have died in conflict. The square has become an important ceremonial center in Ottawa and is recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada. Guided tours of Ottawa usually include a stop in Confederation Square.

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Things to know before you go

  • The landmark buildings that frame the square include the Château Laurier, the Senate of Canada Building, the National Arts Centre, the Central Chambers, the Scottish Ontario Chambers, the Central Post Office, and the East Block portion of the Parliament Buildings.

  • The Valiants Memorial, a military monument commemorating 14 critical figures from Canada’s military history, lines the square.

  • Canada on the March (which replaced the Changing of the Guard ceremony) takes place every morning from late June to late August; regimental bands march from Cartier Square Drill Hall to Parliament Hill, near Confederation Square.

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How to get there

Confederation Square is in the center of Ottawa, in front of Parliament Hill. It’s easy to get there with one of the city’s public buses; the closest stations are Elgin/Wellington and Elgin/Queen. Ottawa also has extensive cycling pathways, making getting around the city by bike easier.

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When to get there

The National War Memorial is the site of the National Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11. Travelers recommend visiting the memorial at dusk to see the sun set behind the Peace Tower in the background. The best times to visit Ottawa are from June to August, when you’ll experience the warmest temps, and September through October, when fall foliage colors the landscape.

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Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—touches the northeastern corner of Confederation Square. Designed explicitly for steam-powered vessels in the 19th century, today, the canal attracts tourists, boaters, cyclists, and ice skaters in the winter. It is a major attraction in Ottawa, cutting right through the heart of the capital city.

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