In my experience (myself included), Canadians take great pride in their Parliament buildings. Parliament Hill is located downtown, directly on the Ottawa River and opposite Gatineau, Quebec. The Centre (pictured), East and West blocks were built starting in 1859, though a fire in 1916 greatly damaged the Centre Block. Guided tours are offered, and if the Senate or House of Commons is in session, you can sit and watch. Peace Tower is also accessible, and you do not need a tour ticket to access it. Fair warning – you’ll probably wait in line for awhile first. On your way back down, be sure to enter the Memorial Chamber, which was built to honor Canadians who died in armed conflicts dating back to Confederation (1867). Near the gates leading to Parliament, you’ll see the Eternal (or Centennial) Flame. It was originally unveiled in 1967, to celebrate 100 years of Confederation.
If you visit Ottawa in the winter, be sure to check out the Lights Across Canada display on Parliament at nighttime. During the winter months, the Rideau Canal is also turned into a skating rink, provided the ice is frozen solid enough.
If your visit takes place in the summertime, be sure to stop by Parliament to see the Changing of the Guard, or bring your yoga mat on Wednesdays at lunchtime for Yoga on the Hill. Just a short walk away is the War Memorial (which I will feature separately). During the summer months, there is also a nightly light show on Parliament called Mosaika (pictured above and below), and I highly recommend it. Not only is it incredibly interesting to look at, but it is quite informative on Canadian history.