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Archdiocese of Ottawa (Ottawiensis).

The Archdiocese of Ottawa, in Canada, originally comprised the Ottawa Valley, traversed by the river of the same name. The northern portion of this diocese was, in 1882, made the Vicariate Apostolic of Pontiac, and then became the Diocese of Pembroke, itself dismembered in 1908 to form the Vicariate Apostolic of Temiskamingue. Ottawa still has an area of 10,000 square miles, extends into the Counties of Carleton, Russell, Prescott, and Lanark of the Province of Ontario, and into those of Wright, Labelle, Argenteuil, Terrebonne, and Montcalm of the Province of Quebec. The Dominion official census of 1901 gave the population of the archdiocese as 158,000 Catholics 128,000 of whom are French-speaking and 30,000 English-speaking. A few hundreds more speak other languages.

Ottawa, metropolitan see and capital of the Dominion, was founded in 1827 simultaneously with the opening of works on the Rideau Canal, and took its first name of Bytown from Colonel By, a British officer and engineer, who had charge of the construction of the canal. With its water power and admirable position at the foot of the Chaudiere Falls and at the mouth of two rivers, Bytown soon came to the front as a centre of industry. In 1848 its prospects were such that Rome raised the thriving little town to the rank of an episcopal see. In 1854 Bytown was granted city incorporation, and took the name of Ottawa. When the Canadian Confederation was definitively established in 1867, Ottawa was chosen as capital, and has been ever since the residence of the governor-general and the headquarters of Canadian federal politics.

Joseph-Eugene-Bruno Guigues, first Bishop of Ottawa (1848-74) gave his incipient diocese a solid organization; churches and schools were built, and the college, seminary, and hospital soon followed. Gifted with keen foresight, Bishop Guigues formed a diocese with the slender resources at his disposal. At his death the Catholic population of the diocese had increased from 32,000 to 93,000, and the number of priests from 15 to 80.

Joseph-Thomas Duhamel, second bishop and first Archbishop of Ottawa, whose episcopate of thirty-four years brought the diocese to its present prosperous state, will figure in the ecclesiastical history of Canada, as a prudent, saintly, and indefatigable worker. A country parish-priest before ascending the episcopal throne, he continued to lead the laborious life of an ordinary priest. His episcopal visitation was his only holiday. On these occasions he would preach several times in the day, preside at the usual ceremonies of the visitation, and investigate carefully the administration of the parish. Though stricken with angina pectoris two years before his death, he remained at his post and died in one of his country parishes while making his visitation, 5 June, 1908. He had been made an archbishop in 1886.

Archbishop Gauthier has been translated from the See of Kingston, Ontario to Ottawa, 6 Sept., 1910.

The Catholic University is Ottawa's foremost seat of learning (see Ottawa, University of). Higher education for young ladies is in the hands of the Grey Nuns of the Cross and of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame. Each of these communities has a large institute receiving hundreds of boarders and day pupils. The elementary schools are established in conformity with the Separate School Laws of Ontario and the Public School Laws of Quebec. Catholic elementary schools are, therefore, maintained by government taxation. Catholic ratepayers have nothing to pay for other elementary schools. The Catholic schools are efficient and well equipped. In the mind of Archbishop Duhamel, Ottawa, situated on the borders of two great provinces and possessing government libraries and museums, was destined to be an educational centre. Hence the numerous houses of studies established by religious orders in the capital.

Orders of Men: Oblates of Mary Immaculate, with five parishes, the university, a scholasticate, and juniorate; Dominicans with parish and scholasticate; the Capuchins, with parish and juniorate; Fathers of the Company of Mary, with five parishes, scholasticate, and juniorate; Regular Canons of the Immaculate Conception, with five parishes and college; Redemptorists, with house of studies; Fathers of the Holy Ghost, with agricultural college.

The most important charitable institutions are (1) four orphanages directed by the Sisters of Wisdom, the Grey Nuns, and the Sisters of Providence; (2) three homes for the aged, directed by the Grey Nuns and the Sisters of Providence; (3) one house of correction for girls, under charge of the Sisters of Charity; (4) one Misericordia Refuge for fallen women; (5) three hospitals conducted by the Grey Nuns of the Cross. The Ottawa General Hospital, the largest of the three, was founded in 1845 and has been enlarged at different times. The Youville Training School for Nurses is attached; (6) St George's Home, the Canadian headquarters of the Catholic Emigration Society of England. The Sisters of Charity of St. Paul receive there the emigrant Catholic children and distribute them in Canadian families.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, usually called the Basilica, since it has received the title of minor basilica, is a vast Gothic structure with twin towers two hundred feet high, and a seating capacity of 2000. The parishes of St. Joseph, the Sacred Heart, St. John the Baptist, and St. Bridget have also beautiful churches.


Alexis, Histoire de la Province ecclesiastique d'Ottawa (Ottawa, 1897).

About this page

APA citation. Brunet, F.X. (1911). Ottawa. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Brunet, Francis Xavier. "Ottawa." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Rev. Owen Carroll.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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