What We Do
The Historical Society of Ottawa (HSO) is Ottawa’s oldest historical organization. It was founded in 1898 by a group of prominent Ottawa women interested in the preservation of Canada’s rich historical heritage at a time when there were few Canadian museums and little government funding for such activities. Initially known as the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa, the Society changed its name in 1955 when men were allowed to participate as full members.
The principal aim of the Society is to increase public knowledge of the history of Ottawa and the surrounding region through meetings, tours, awards, publications, and sponsored research. The Society supports and encourages heritage conservation and the preservation of archival documents and records in co-operation with the City of Ottawa Archives and other historical and heritage groups. It also works to preserve the memory of Lieutenant-Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers who was the founder of Bytown, which later became Ottawa, and supervised the construction of the Rideau Canal system.
At its monthly meetings, held from September to June, guest speakers inform and engage members in a wide range of topics related to the history of Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley. (Click here to see our latest schedule of activities.) The monthly meetings are open to the general public as well as to members at no cost. Society members also receive a quarterly newsletter, and copies of HSO’s “Pamphlet Series” that examine local historical issues. The Society also organizes one-day bus tours for its members and guests to historic sites in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.
The Society is the official patron of the Ottawa Regional Heritage Fair for area youth (Grades 5-9) which is held annually. At the Fair, the Society presents the Sir Richard William Scott Historical Society Award in recognition of research excellence in a subject relevant to Ottawa’s history. The Society also presents annually the Algonquin College Award to a student in the College’s Applied Museum Studies Program, and the Colonel John By Award to a university undergraduate or graduate student who writes the best history paper on a topic of relevance to Ottawa or the Ottawa Valley. (Click here for more information on HSO awards.)
The Society welcomes everybody with a love of history and an interest in Ottawa’s heritage, irrespective of race, religion, sex, age, country of origin, or any other attribute. (Click here for information on how to join.)
The Historical Society of Ottawa is a non-profit organization and a registered charity - Registration no.: 107484081RR0001. To make a donation, click here for a donation form. Many thanks! A charitable receipt for income tax purposes will be issued for donations. Please note that a receipt for tax purposes cannot be issued for membership fees.