The Bank of Ottawa was established in Canada in 1874 by Ottawa Valley lumber pioneers. The Bank of Ottawa was of high importance in the city's banking scene for a number of years. James Maclaren presided over the Bank from 1874 until his death in 1892. John Mather served as a bank director from 1879. The branches included Ottawa, Pembroke,Keewatin and Winnipeg, Manitoba.
After World War I the Bank reached a point where it required new capital and vigorous expansion to remain competitive and maintain its earnings. This was viewed as too expensive, and The Bank of Ottawa amalgamated with The Bank of Nova Scotia in 1919. Through this merger, The Bank of Nova Scotia acquired a number of new branches West of the Ottawa Valley. The Bank of Ottawa, for example, was the first occupant of the building 169 John Street North in Arnprior, Ontario. The bank expanded from the Ottawa Valley to the Pacific Ocean.
Like the other Canadian chartered banks, it issued its own paper money. The bank issued notes 1874-1913. The end dates are the final dates appearing on notes, which may have circulated for some time after. By 1917, the bank needed additional capital. The Bank of Nova Scotia amalgamated with the Bank of Ottawa in 1919. The Bank of Canada was established through the Bank of Canada Act of 1934 and the banks relinquished their right to issue their own currency.