To Ottawa by Car

Getting to Ottawa by car is simple, though the journey may be very long, depending on from where you start.

Metric Road Signs

Since the 1970’s, the road signs in Canada have been metric, meaning that the numbers that you see on the speed signs along the road show kilometers per hour, not miles per hour.

The destination signs, the ones that show the city and the distance, are also metric – showing the number of kilometers to that location.

It’s a fairly easy conversion from kilometers to miles. Divide the miles by 1.62 to get kilometers, or, multiply the kilometers by .62 to get miles, if measuring distance by miles is your preferred method.

Bilingual Road Signs – Except for Quebec

Quite a number of road signs in English speaking Canada post information in both English and French where there are sufficient French speaking persons to justify it. French is Canada’s  other official language.

The exception to this is in the Province of Quebec, where road signs are uni-lingual, and French only.

Gasoline

Gasoline, currently costing around $1.20 / litre (early 2012 pricing) in the Ottawa area is readily available in lead free forms only, whether “regular”, mid-range, or “high test”. One litre equals about .26 U.S. gallons, so to make the math simple, I simply say four litres is about one U.S. gallon.

Except right in the core of the city, gas supply stations are everywhere, with many major brands and some independent stations. By and large the quality of the fuel available is very good. Depending on how far you are driving, it might be expensive to get to Ottawa by car?

Self Service Pumps

Gas pumps are primarily self-service, though there are still a few “full service” pumps around. “Full service” simply means that an employee will pump your gas and bring you an invoice. Even at the “full service” stations, don’t expect a windshield wash or an oil check…it just doesn’t seem to happen any more.

You can often pay electronically right at the pump via credit card. Gas stations normally will not take foreign currency, so have Canadian cash or use your credit or debit card.

Diesel Fuel Readily Available

Many in-city fuel stations also offer diesel fuel, as this fuel choice for automobiles is becoming more accepted, but be a bit careful as it’s not readily available everywhere.

Speed Limits

The speed limit on the controlled access highways around Ottawa is 100 km / hour (approx. 60 mph). While you obviously choose to take a risk by exceeding the posted limits, our experience has been that up to 110 km / hour you won’t normally ‘blip’ the radar traps. As you exceed this level, your risk increases both by every kilometer of speed added, and to fulfill the police force’s need to write more tickets on any particular day. In other words, one day you might pass a radar trap doing 120 km/hr and they won’t stop you; the next day, they will, and at the end of that little confrontation, your wallet might end up being substantially lighter.

Should you get stopped by the Ontario Provincial Police (the police force that patrols the major highways outside of the cities), expect a high level of professionalism from the officer(s). You will need to have your driver’s license, proof of ownership of the vehicle, and proof of insurance. Not being able to provide any of these, regardless of the reason for being stopped in the first place, is itself a violation which will likely mean you receiving a fine.

To Ottawa by car From The West

From the down-town Toronto area, the fastest way to travel the 450 km (approx. 280 miles) distance to the Parliament Buildings in down-town Ottawa, is to take Highway 401 in an easterly direction. You’ll pass many towns and cities as you cruise along, many of which are worth visiting in their own right.

You’ll pass a number of ‘easy-on/easy-off’ rest stops, gas stations on the #401 highway. They are well marked.

You’ll travel about 360 km (approx. 222 miles) east on the #401 highway to Prescott, Ontario where you’ll reach the on ramp to highway #416 north.

Take #416 north, and it will merge about 70 kilometers (approx. 43 miles) later with highway #417 (also known as the Queensway) in Ottawa.

From #416 north you will merge with the #417 east, and you will head east to the Kent Street exit, which is the closest exit to get to Ottawa’s down-town and Parliament.

Kent Street is a right hand exit from the east bound #417, and the exit ramp will parallel the #417 as it descends. You’ll turn left (north) onto Kent Street, and travel about 2 kilometers north to Wellington Street. Turn right, and the Parliament Buildings are on your left.

To Ottawa by car from the North

Folks travelling from western Canada might prefer not to have to drive south to Toronto from Sudbury, before continuing their journey. If the purpose of the driving trip is to get to Ottawa the shortest, fastest way by road, you would travel from the west first to the city of North Bay, and the onwards to Ottawa.

From North Bay you’ll drive about 360 kilometers (approx. 222 miles) along highway #17, or as it may now be known in some areas as trans-Canada #417, directly to Ottawa.

There will be plenty of gas, rest and food stops along the route, though in the mid-winter months some may be closed until spring.

Upon reaching the greater Ottawa area, you’ll merge with #417 to drive through the city, and continue on to the Kent Street exit, the closest exit to the Parliament Buildings.

Kent Street is a right hand exit from the east bound #417, and the exit ramp will parallel the #417 as it descends. You’ll turn left (north) onto Kent Street, and travel about 2 kilometers north to Wellington Street. Turn right, and the Parliament Buildings are on your left.

To Ottawa From The East

Ontario’s eastern border is the provincial boundary between Ontario and the province of Quebec. The closest city – once you cross the boundary – is Montreal, and it’s likely through Montreal one would travel to get to Ottawa from points east.

From Montreal it’s 201 km (approx. 120 miles) to Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings. You’ll exit the greater Montreal area usually via highway #40 West bound, or from down-town Montreal via highway #20 Westbound.

Both of these highways join to the west of Montreal, and both provide access to highway #417, which is the fastest route to Ottawa.

There are a number of gas, rest and food locations easily visible and accessible from the #417. If you are feeling adventourous, exit at any of the small towns you pass. Until you get close to Ottawa, you may find that French is the predominate language spoken in the small villages, though English speaking folks will be around as well.

You’ll travel along #417 west bound until you reach the core of Ottawa. When heading east on the #417, as you enter the greater Ottawa area, to get to the Parliament Buildings you’d exit at Nicholas Street, and follow Nicholas for just a few kilometers until reaching Rideau Street, where you’d turn left (west) and Parliament would be just on your right up the hill.

To Ottawa From The South

From the greater New York City area, you’ll travel north on U.S. 87 to Montreal, Canada, a distance of about 600 kilometers (approx. 370 miles).

Upon reaching Montreal, you’d connect with highway #20 west, or highway #40 west, through Montreal to where they join up on the west side, and there you’ll have access to #417. Watch for the signs, and it’s all high-speed highway once you exit Montreal. It’s about a 201 km (approx. 120 miles) journey from this point to down-town Ottawa, and the Nicholas Street exit to take you to the downtown core and the Parliament Buildings.

The U.S. interstate highways are replete with rest, gas and food stops, both on the highways, and at almost every exit.

If you are driving from Pennsylvania, or western New York, the highway you’ll want is US #81, which you’ll take north, past Watertown, and continue to over the St. Lawrence River and the border, at the 1,000 Islands Bridge.

Once through customs and into Canada, you’ll still head north, and shortly (a couple of kilometers) you’ll merge with highway #401 which you will enter east bound.

The eastbound exit from the #401 for Ottawa is near Prescott, Ontario. That’s about 60 kilometers (approx. 37 miles), from where you entered the #401, and where you’ll pick up the #416 highway north to Ottawa.

Take #416 north, and it will merge about 70 kilometers (approx. 43 miles) later with highway #417 (also known as the Queensway) in Ottawa, which you will enter east bound for a few kilometers to the Kent Street exit.

Kent Street is a right hand exit from the east bound #417, and the exit ramp will parallel the #417 as it descends. You’ll turn left (north) onto Kent Street, and travel about 2 kilometers north to Wellington Street. Turn right, and the Parliament Buildings are on your left.

 


If you have any photos of your road trip to Ottawa, I know other folks would be glad to see them. Comments are welcome as well. All photos and comments are previewed for suitability before going live.

[ngg_uploader id=9]

Tell other visitors what you think!

*

Privacy Policy   |   Disclaimer