Ottawa was a small trading and lumbering community, which gradually grew in significance, mainly because of the importance of its Rideau Canal in the transportation of timbers, goods, and people.
Britain’s decision to unify its colonies of Upper and Lower Canada, into the Province of Canada (1841), called for the designation of a capital. Leaders called upon Queen Victoria to decide, after political quarrels between cities like Quebec and Toronto and Montreal and Kingston over the issue did not allow for an easy decision.
Thus, on December 31st, the queen, to the surprise of many, selected Ottawa as the capital, which it remained, even after Canada became a dominion a decade later.

Other notable events on December 31st:

In 2019, the World Health Organization first learned of “viral pneumonia” cases in Wuhan, China, soon to be known as Covid-19 and spread throughout the world.

In 1999, the United States officially transferred control of the Panama Canal to Panama.