This tour visits the first section of the Rideau Canal to discuss the work done by the Irish Navvies, French Canadian labourers, skilled stonemasons and others who built it (1826-32) under military and contractor supervision. The tour covers wages, working and living conditions, racial discrimination, riots and protests by the workers, and the high incidence of accident, disease and death.
This tour visits 10 sites of protest, strike and rebellion to highlight some of the key events in the history of Ottawa and Canada, from those originating locally like the 1849 Stoney Monday Riot, to those which started elsewhere like the 1971 Abortion Rights Caravan. At each site, the tour explains the context, what happened and considers the event’s significance for us today.
This 3 hour tour skips the talk about Prime Ministers and governmental processes typical of ‘official’ tours to focus on Parliament Hill’s unknown history: the original Algonquin inhabitants, its time as ‘Barracks Hill’, the strikes associated with its construction, the radical MPs elected to change Canada, and use of the Hill for government propaganda by governments and protestors.
This tour examines the 250 year history of Algonquin resistance to settler occupation of the Ottawa area and visits sites that signify how the Canadian Government ‘remembers’ its colonial history and key moments of Indigenous resistance – from Tecumseh’s pan-Indian alliance, through the Metis Rebellion and the ‘Red Power’ movement to Idle-No-More.
From Indigenous sacred site to industrial wasteland: colonialism and class struggle in the Chaudière District
This tour traces how an Indigenous sacred site (the Chaudiere Falls and surrounding area) was transformed into an industrial zone for lumber mills, pulp and paper and hydro, and the impressive strikes by mill workers and women match makers resident in the nearby communities of Hull and Lebreton Flats. Included is discussion about the resistance governments faced when destroying those working class neighborhoods and the current Algonquin campaign against the ‘Zibi’ condo project.
More than Taverns and Brothels: French Canadian, Irish and Jewish Struggles Against Oppression in Lowertown
This tour goes beyond the tourist industry’s focus on taverns and brothels in the Byward Market to examine Lowertown’s origins as home to French and Irish canal workers and timber men, and its subsequent evolution into a place of refuge for Jewish immigrants. You’ll hear about key moments of solidarity and division as these three groups, each with their own prior historical experience of oppression, fought the domination by Ottawa’s self-appointed British rulers. You will also learn about the institutions and organizations the French, Irish and Jews built to better their lives, and the demonstrations, strikes, riots, occupations, and other actions they initiated to defend themselves.
What our clients say
“An interesting and informative history of the Parliament buildings, a history you will not learn in the "official tours". The history of the workers, of citizens and their struggles to be heard on the Hill while still visiting all the major buildings and monuments - only seeing them through a different lens. Informative and challenging. A great addition for visitors Continue Reading
“I've lived in Ottawa for ages and can't believe how little I knew of our city's past. The tour leader has distilled an impressive breadth of research on these subjects, and in addition to presenting an engaging story, is seemingly impossible to stump for an answer to any related questions! It was time well spent and I'd recommend the tours Continue Reading
“…Brian exhibits a deep understanding of the array of mechanisms employed in…the settler-colonial agenda and its goal of forcing the indigenous inhabitants into submission and off their land - be it through brutal force or entrapment. In addition, he provides insights into the aboriginal resistance and…the multiplicity of strategic visions, ranging from anti-colonial struggle to collaboration…. But the story does Continue Reading
“Our guide…was excellent, patient, interesting and able to answer our questions. …Brian brought the story alive by painting a picture of the people involved, their problems, living conditions and the way the British commander organised the whole 200km canal dig and numerous locks. He brought the history of Ottawa into the present day too. A well spent 2.5 hours