House of Commons Procedure and Practice
Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
2000 EditionMore information …
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6. The Physical and Administrative Setting

Ottawa as the Seat of Government

In 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the seat of government for the Province of Canada. This followed years of intense rivalry among the elected representatives of the pre-Confederation colonies of Upper and Lower Canada, who could not agree on a permanent site. [1]  The itinerant Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada met in several different cities, beginning with Kingston in 1841. In 1844, it moved to Montreal where it remained until 1849 when the legislative building was burned by rioters. [2]  Thereafter a system was adopted under which the assembly met alternately at Quebec and Toronto before finally settling into its permanent home in Ottawa, where it met for the first time in 1866. With the advent of Confederation the following year, the capital of the Province of Canada became the national capital, in compliance with the Constitution Act, 1867, Section 16 of which states that “the seat of Government of Canada shall be Ottawa”. [3]  Accordingly, the Parliament of Canada assembled in Ottawa on November 6, 1867, for the First Session of the First Parliament.

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