The last big rigs were being towed out of Canada's capital today, where the streets were quiet for the first time in three weeks after a massive police operation ended a drawn-out siege over Covid-19 health rules.

A major cleanup was underway in Ottawa's snowy downtown, where police in riot gear faced off with trucker-led demonstrators for two full days, finally driving them out of their protest hub outside parliament.

Yesterday, police used pepper spray and stun grenades to move out the die-hard protesters who have remained, clearing most of the area in front of parliament and next to the prime minister's office.

The last few protesters stayed late into the night, singing 80s protest anthems and setting off fireworks at a 13-foot security fence hastily erected around the parliamentary precinct.

But the protest wound down as a deep freeze gripped the city.

This morning, police were manning checkpoints restricting access to a 500-acre downtown area, while a sizeable force remained on standby to defend the ground reclaimed from the truckers.

Ottawa police issued a reminder that the core area remains off-limits except to local residents and workers.

Police tweeted midmorning that two people had just been arrested – and a total of 191 since police moved in on Friday.

It said 57 vehicles have so far been towed out of the city, which had been paralysed since 29 January when hundreds of trucks, vans and other vehicles parked there in protest.

Crews took down the last tents, food stands and other makeshift structures erected by demonstrators, and cleared heaps of snow from streets in preparation for a reopening of local businesses.

Police forces clash with protesters in Ottawa city centre yesterday

Many protesters told AFP they would keep pressing their cause.

Although pandemic health rules in Canada have eased as case numbers trend downward, protesters have vowed to press for a full lifting of restrictions, which have been among the world's strictest.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is meanwhile facing a lawsuit from a civil liberties group and pushback from political rivals over the decision to invoke rarely-used emergency powers to crack down on the unlawful protests.

This is despite polls showing Canadians, once sympathetic to the trucker-led movement, have turned against them.

Mr Trudeau himself kept his distance as the police operation unfolded, refraining from public comment.

The convoy began a month ago as a protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccines to cross the US border. It has inspired copycats in other countries, with Washington girding for a possible trucker protest to coincide with next week's State of the Union address.

The Canada convoy triggered economically damaging blockades at the US border, which police cleared a week ago.

Dozens were arrested, including at least three protest leaders, while $32 million in donations and bank accounts linked to the trucker movement were frozen.