Previously known as the Canadian Museum of Civilization, this cutting-edge museum—just five minutes from downtown Ottawa—underwent a name change and a significant overhaul between 2013 and 2017. The museum’s high-tech exhibitions now tell the history of Canada and its peoples, from the earliest human inhabitants to the present day.
The Canadian Museum of History is one of Canada’s largest museums, attracting millions of tourists every year. Museum tickets, which you can book in advance, provide access to all the museum’s galleries, including the Canadian History Hall; the First Peoples Hall; the Grand Hall, which focuses on the First Peoples of Canada’s Pacific Coast; and the on-site Canadian Children’s Museum. Tickets also allow entry to select educational shows at the museum’s 295-seat CINÉ+ movie theater.
The museum is a common stop on hop-on hop-off bus tours of Ottawa and during Ottawa day tours from Montreal. If you plan on museum-hopping, you may want to purchase Canada’s National Museums Passport, which including admission to any three of the six participating national museums over three consecutive days.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Canadian Museum of History is a must-see for history and culture buffs, and for families, with the on-site children’s museum showcasing the various cultures and countries of the world.
- To help find your way around, download or pick up a copy of the Museum Guide at the information desk.
- The museum is fully accessible to wheelchair users. Wheelchairs and strollers are available free of charge at the coat check.
- Allow at least three hours to properly explore the museum.
How to Get There
The Canadian Museum of History is in Hull, Gatineau, just across the Ottawa River from downtown Ottawa. During the summer, the Aqua Taxi ferry travels between the Ottawa Locks and the far side of the river. Walking from Parliament Hill takes around 30 minutes.
When to Get There
The Canadian Museum of History is busiest on weekends, with tourist crowds peaking during the summer months. Come around 9am (opening) to get a head start on the crowds.
An Architectural Marvel
As impressive as the collections and exhibits of the museum are, the building that houses them is perhaps equally so. Designed by architect Douglas Cardinal, the curving stone structure symbolizes abstract representations of parts of the Canadian landscape, including the Canadian Shield, glaciers, glacial streams, and the Great Plains. From the museum complex, visitors are treated to excellent views of Parliament Hill across the way.