Canadian War Museum

Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum (Ottawa) moved its collection of military history to its new home on May 8, 2005, the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

“This museum is as much a memorial as a building, a statement as well as a structure… It’s mandate is summed up in three words:
Remember. Preserve. Educate.

Hume, Christopher. 2005. Architect of Peace. Toronto Star. May 1, 2005. P.1


The Canadian War Museum as a building and as a collection of military history will change you. Whether you are man or women, pacifist, or military, young or old, veteran or not–you cannot walk through this museum without being profoundly affected and touched emotionally–the museum tells the history of war at its worst and also at its best.

Canadian War Museum (Ottawa)

View of Canadian War Museum (Ottawa).


“Nature may be ravaged by human acts of war, but inevitably it survives, hybridizes, regenerates and prevails. From the healing process emerges hope” – Raymond Moriyama
The building was designed by Raymond Moriyama of Moriyama & Teshima Architects (Toronto) and Alex Rankin of Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects (Ottawa). The theme of the innovative buildling design is “regeneration”: the impact of war on land, but also Nature’s ability to recover from the devastation of war.

The architects specifically designed the construction to be energy efficient and use recycled materials where possible. Building features include:

  • cooling systems using river water
  • concrete made of recycled fly ash
  • native, self-seeding grasses for the roof
  • recycled copper from the roof of the Library of Parliament

Close up of Canadian War Museum Morse Code wall
Photo by Brian Pirie,


Other interesting features:

    • the windows on the North side of the copper “fin” spell out “Lest we forget” and “N’oublions jamais” in Morse Code
    • the windows on the South, they spell out “CWM” for Canadian War Museum
    • the window in Regeneration Hall frames the view of the Peace Tower of the Parliament Buildings

every November 11, at 11:00 a.m., on Remembrance Day, the sun shines through Memorial Hall to light the headstone of Canada’s Unknown Soldier


The Canadian War Museum depicts Canada’s military past and Canada’s contribution in national and international conflicts. The museum’s focus is on the human experience of war and how Canadians affected and have been affected by war


The main permanent exhibition space, called the Canadian Experience Galleries, covers 2 km (1.2 miles). The themes are as follows:

Wars on our soil, from earliest times to 1885
For Crown and Country:
The South African and World War I, 1885-1931
Forged in Fire:
World War II, 1931-1945
A Violent Peace:
The Cold War, Peacekeeping and Recent Conflicts, 1945 – present
The Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour
Chronicles Canada’s history of remembrance, honoring our military and commemorative items
LeBreton Gallery
Massive display of large objects including artillery, aircraft, armoured and non-armoured vehicles, and naval weapons. (a CF-101 Voodoo jet, tanks, rare motorcycles and vehicles, a Molch midget submarine, among others)
Regeneration Hall
A window frames the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill – to represent a “hope for a better future”
Memorial Hall
Space for quiet remembrance and personal contemplation. The only artifact on display here is the headstone of Canada’s Unknown Soldier from World War I. Sunlight illuminates the headstone every Remembrance Day, November 11 at precisely 11 a.m., when the Great War ended in 1918.


  • Original artwork: 330 pieces
  • Number of artifacts in Permanent Exhibition: 2,167
  • Audiovisual productions: 135
  • Number of graphic images inside museum: 2,000
  • Total collection: about 500,000 artifacts (including uniforms, medals, weapons, war art, aircraft, military vehicles, and artillery)
  • Military History Research Centre: 55,000 books
  • Photo archives: 65,500
  • Victoria Cross medals: 28
  • Alex Colville paintings/sketches: 400
  • Group of Seven paintings and sketches: 370


In addition to the permanent exhibitions, there is a changing program of special exhibitions, public programs, and special events.

Check out their website for some interesting stories that were collected for the museum’s fifth anniversary.

Fifth Anniversary Stories at the Canadian War Museum
(Link will open in a new page).


Month Weekdays Weekends
May 1 – Sept. 1, 2013 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.,
until 8 p.m. on Thurs.
9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sept. 2 – Oct. 14, 2013 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.,
until 8 p.m. on Thurs..
9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Oct. 15, 2013 – Mar 31, 2014 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.,
until 8 p.m. on Thurs.
9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

**Exceptions: July 1: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Dec. 24 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., Dec. 25 CLOSED, Jan 6-10 CLOSED (maintenance)

Military History Research Centre: Open Tues. – Fri. from 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Closed weekends and Mondays.

Canadian War Museum Boutique: May 1 – Sept. 1, 2013: Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. except on Thurs., open until 8 p.m.

The Mess: Open Mon. РFri. from 8 a.m. Р4:30 p.m. Open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays.  Weekends:  9:30 a.m. Р4:30 p.m.


Admission prices are $8 – $13 for just the museum.
A family of 5 can buy a pass for $32.

You can also purchase package deals which include admission to the Museum of Civilization and/or the Imax Theatre


The museum offers on-site underground parking at the rate of $2.50 / hour, or a daily maximum of $12.50. A flat rate of $6 is available from 6 p.m. – 6 a.m.

The museum is also accessible by bus to the Lebreton Station on the Transitway and is conveniently located for cyclists on the Ottawa River Parkway. Bike racks are available near the front of the museum, and you can check all your bike gear at the complimentary cloakroom.


Canadian War Museum
1 Vimy Place
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0M8

The Canadian War Museum is located at 1 Vimy Place, on LeBreton Flats, at the corner of Booth Street and the Ottawa River Parkway, west of Parliament Hill.

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