As expected of a national capital, Ottawa has many institutions devoted to preserving and interpreting Canadian History. The Museum of Civilization tells the story of Canada’s people from the arrival of aboriginal peoples over the Bering Strait through Viking settlements and European colonization to the present day. The collection of artifacts is quite spectacular, including full-size Salish totem poles, a Viking ship, and even a grain elevator. Do also take a moment to appreciate that the museum is shaped like male genitalia (see the floor plan).
The Canadian War Museum, now housed in a monolithic new building tells the story of Canada’s military history, from colonial conflicts to the World Wars, Korea, its peacekeeping missions, and its involvement in NATO and UN operations. A joint ticket for the War Museum and Museum of Civilization is cheaper than buying them separate.
A quirky war-related institution is the Diefenbunker, a former top-secret bunker built to protect the government in case of nuclear attack. It now houses a museum of the Cold War.