Paris has l’Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, London has Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, Washington has the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and the Smithsonian Institution, and Ottawa has… a farm.
Yes, Canada is the only country in the world to have a working farm at the heart of its capital city, mere minutes away from Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court, the Canadian War Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada, among other, more traditional attractions.
However, this national landmark is not simply a normal farm. The vast Central Experimental Farm was established in the 19th century as the central research station for the federal Department of Agriculture (now called Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada). When it was founded in 1886, the CEF was on the far outskirts of Canada’s capital; however, with urban growth, the city encompassed and swallowed it, and it’s now a truly unique feature of downtown Ottawa used as both a research complex and public park space. And despite its longevity and earning the status of a National Heritage Site, the CEF is still a working scientific institution on the cutting edge of agricultural research.
The various sections of the CEF are open to the public year-round and feature such attractions as an arboretum, the Ornamental Gardens, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, and numerous heritage buildings. The CEF also hosts the Canadian Museum of Agriculture and the Dominion Observatory making it a strangely rural center of urban intellectualism.
Know Before You Go
The Central Experimental Farms are located on a huge tract of land adjacent to Carling Avenue near downtown Ottawa, and are virtually impossible to miss.