Culture Overview


Ottawa’s ‘rural culture’ was born from the land and waterways of the Ottawa Valley. From early human predecessors to Aboriginal peoples to European traders, missionaries and colonizers to entrepreneurs and emigrants; new peoples have traveled to and settled in Ottawa’s rural areas since time immemorial.
The rural areas of Ottawa today account for almost 90% of the city’s land, and house approximately 10% of its population. Farmland occupies about 40% of Ottawa’s rural land, with 300,000 acres currently being farmed within almost 1,300 agricultural operations. Residential subdivisions have pushed well past the “Green Belt”, developing in all areas of rural Ottawa around traditional villages and hamlets.
Ottawa’s rural cultural life plays out in legions, community halls, museums, churches, community centers, arenas, main streets, libraries, curling rinks, fairgrounds, orchards and arts venues. Its rural heritage is rich in archaeological resources, ecological features, architecture, historic sites, cultural landscapes, and countryside roadways and trails. Local historical and genealogical societies work to preserve the collective memory of rural communities. More and more artists are establishing rural studios as they seek seclusion, nature and quiet community connection in order to nurture the creative process.
Rural cultural development strategies are most successful when integrated into overall rural regeneration initiatives and linked to agricultural, community and tourism planning. Ottawa’s rural museums, historical societies, heritage projects, fairs and artistic activity are recognized as essential to the nurturing and preservation of Ottawa’s rural culture and identity. Ottawa is poised to lead in the areas of rural cultural and Agri-tourism, rural regeneration and cultural preservation if the right, collective steps are taken.
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