The Bytown Museum explores the stories and values of an evolving city and its residents from its first inhabitants and the early days as Bytown to present day Ottawa. The Museum is committed to engaging our visitors and community in discovery and dialogue to deepen the connection to community and foster an understanding and pride of place.
The Bytown Museum will provide the residents of Ottawa, and visitors from abroad, with a sense of identity with and pride in Ottawa’s rich story. Through its collections and programs, the Museum aspires to be a model of excellence in furthering knowledge and pride of place among diverse visitors of all ages.
The Bytown Museum’s mandate is to collect, preserve, study and make available the material culture that reflects the stories of the regions first inhabitants and the early days as Bytown to Ottawa in 1918 at the end of World War One, and to further knowledge and understanding of Ottawa’s heritage of diversity, opportunity and perpetual transformation to both local residents, from the immediate neighbourhoods and the wider Capital Region, and to visitors from Canada and abroad.
About The Bytown Museum
Housed in Ottawa’s oldest stone building, the Bytown Museum explores the stories of an evolving city and its residents from its early days as Bytown to present day Ottawa. The museum’s collection of over 7,000 artifacts includes some singularly important pieces, such as a cast of D’Arcy McGee's death hand.
The history of the Bytown Museum begins with the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa (WCHSO), founded in 1898. The WCHSO quickly amassed a collection of artifacts relating to the history of Bytown/Ottawa. It became apparent that a museum was required to house this impressive collection and in 1917 the Bytown Museum opened its doors.
In 1951, the Bytown Museum moved to its current home, the Commissariat. The building was a treasury and storehouse during the construction of the Rideau Canal. In 1956, the WCHSO admitted men for the first time and thus changed their name to the Historical Society of Ottawa (HSO). Today the museum is run independently from the HSO.