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Billings Estate National Historic Site

About us

The Billings family settled on the shores of the Rideau River in 1812 and took an active role in shaping the community as it evolved over time and until the 1970s when they left the estate. They helped build farms and churches, ran a dairy operation, and contributed to the development of the Byward Market by providing produce for sale and building the "Farmers' Bridge".

This National Historic Site on 8 acres of green space is also home to one of Ottawa's oldest community cemeteries where well-known Ottawa pioneers, such as the Evans, Brouse and Firth families, are laid to rest.

Location and hours

2100 Cabot Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1H 6K1

Contact us

Tel.: 613-580-2088
Fax: 613-247-4832
Email: museums@ottawa.ca
Facebook: @BillingsEstate
Instagram: @BillingsEstateMuseum
Subscribe to our monthly "At your museum" eNewsletter. 

Hours

The museum is now closed for the regular season. Special programming is offered throughout the year.

Please see our Programs and Special Events listing below, subscribe to our monthly "At your museum" eNewsletter, or follow us on Facebook for further information.

We welcome private tours even when the museum is not open to the general public. Contact the museum to make arrangements.

Admission

Unless otherwise indicated, regular admission fees apply.

Adults - $6.75
Seniors and Students - $5.50
Child - $4.00
Families (two adults and accompanying children) - $16.50
Children 5 and under are free.

Group rates available upon request. Additional fees may be applicable to some special events and programs.

Programs and special events

Mid-Winter Challenge

Saturday, February 8, 15, and 22
Available timeslots: 12:15 pm, 1:00 pm, 1:45 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:15 pm
Age: 15 +
Cost: $6.75 per person

Harsh winters required early settlers to work together to survive. Are you and your friends smart enough and strong enough to overcome the challenges of a 19th century winter on Billings farm? Organize a team (2-5 people) and race against the clock as you try to complete a series of mental and physical challenges so you can end up atop the leaderboard. (Note: Challenges will take place indoors and outdoors. Please dress for weather conditions. This activity may not be fully accessible to all individuals. If you have questions about accessibility, please contact the museum at 613-580-2088).

Reservations are required. To book your preferred timeslot, call 613-580-2088 (if leaving a message please include your name, phone number, preferred date and timeslot, and the size of your group).

Preschool Playdates

Friday, February 7, 14, 21, and 28 from 10 am to 11 am
Ages: 3 to 5
Cost: $6.65 per child

Enjoy heritage-inspired playtime with your preschooler. Discover local history through hands-on activities with a different theme each week.

Parents are encouraged to bring a light lunch or snack (nut free) as the programming space will be available for 30 minutes after the program for socializing.

Registration is required. Please use the barcode(s) below to register using Service Ottawa’s online system. A minimum of 5 registered participants is required. The registration deadline is the Tuesday prior to each session date (unless the minimum number of participants has been met and space remains).

*This program is delivered in English with bilingual (English/French) staff available to assist.

February 7 – Dino Dig
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Dig in and make discoveries like Elkanah Billings. This program will include sensory-based digs for rocks, dinosaurs, and fossils.

February 14 – Heritage Cookies
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Introduction to baking (and how farm animals help provide ingredients) with a heritage cookie recipe and special Valentine’s Day flair.

February 21 – Animal Tracks
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We’ll search the house for critters who might be calling the museum home for winter and then head outdoors to investigate animal tracks in the snow. (Please make sure your preschooler is dressed for weather conditions).

February 28 – Billings Bridge Village
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Learn about transportation, farms, and markets as you work together to build a version of early Billings Bridge Village.

Artisanal Sourdough Workshop

Saturday, March 14 from 1 pm to 5 pm
Ages 15 and up
Cost: $96 (taxes included)
Barcode: 1544745 (registration is required)

Learn the art and science of sourdough bread making with Elle Crevits. Connect with the history of breadmaking in the unique setting of Billings Estate National Historic Site and prepare your own loaf of sourdough bread to bake. You will leave this workshop with the skills and knowledge required to carry on this delicious tradition at home. Topics covered will include: sourdough starter, kneading, autolyze, proofing, shaping, scoring, and baking. There will be ample time for questions with our visiting expert and, of course, some sampling of fresh baked bread. Museum staff will also share stories of early settler recipes, Lamira Billings, the first woman of the household, and Ontario’s culinary history.

Notes:

  • Please inform staff of any allergies to gluten, dairy, eggs, and nuts (contact the museum by phone at 613-580-2088).
  • Bring a mixing bowl (or bread pan) and a clean cotton towel to take your bread dough home.
  • This workshop will be delivered in English with bilingual (English/French) staff available to assist.

A minimum of 6 participants is required. The deadline to register is Friday, March 7. Use the barcode above to register using Service Ottawa’s online system.

“The Inheritance”: An interactive mystery experience

Saturday, March 21 at 10 am; 2:00 pm, and 8:00 pm
Recommended for ages 15 and up
Cost: $22.75 (taxes included)
Registration is required

Something isn’t right at the museum and you’ve been called in after hours to help discover the source of the disturbances. How does the strained relationship between Sally and Sabra Billings connect to the mischief? Is the house still divided to this day? Characters from the exhibitions have come to life and are eager to share their sides of the story but which one is responsible for the present troubles? Succeed in solving the case or you risk finding yourself trapped behind glass as part of the exhibition forever.

The Governor General’s Award nominated Live History troupe uniquely combines escape room-inspired puzzle solving and interactive theatre experiences pulled from local history.

Please use the barcodes below to register using Service Ottawa’s online system.

March 21 at 10 am – 1544746
March 21 at 2 pm – 1544747
March 21 at 8 pm - 1544748

Notes:

  • Please plan to arrive 15 minutes before your showtime; there is no admittance after the show has begun.
  • The show will require movement throughout the museum and includes stairs. If you have questions about accessibility, please contact 613-580-2088 or museums@ottawa.ca.
  • This show is presented in English only.

School Programs

School Programs and Educational Activities are offered for students from kindergarten to Grade 8 from Wednesday to Friday during the months of May, June, September and October.

 

Collections and exhibits

Artefact collections

A large portion of the Billings Estate National Historic Site artefact collection received Canadian Cultural Property designation in 1996 because of its significance as material evidence of the historic development of the nation's capital. The eclectic collection contains more than 27,000 artefacts - many of which are on exhibition at the museum - that belonged to the family and their neighbours, including furniture, household goods, personal possessions, an extensive library, tools, entomological specimens, agricultural equipment and a 1959 Cadillac. 

Exhibits

The museum's exhibitions are designed to tell the stories of the estate and the community's evolution over more than 150 years, beginning in 1812 when the Billings family settled on the Rideau River.

Permanent Exhibition - The Billings Family Story

Always at the museum is our permanent exhibition that explores the story of pioneers carving out from the wilderness a new life, the progress of relationships and families through good times and bad, the history of industry and agriculture in the area, and the community that grew over the years.

Interactive features like a touch-screen family tree, audio recordings of poetry readings and the Oath of Allegiance, as well as radio programs from days long gone by round out the experience, with telescopes showing a peek into the past. We've made sure there's a scavenger hunt for our young visitors, too. An accessible audio tour is also available.

Our volunteers

The City of Ottawa Museums are committed to offering residents meaningful and rewarding volunteer experiences.

Heritage volunteers play an invaluable role in preserving our unique heritage and in providing museum visitors of all ages with opportunities to appreciate our shared story.

Thank you to all our volunteer team members for their continued support.

To enquire about volunteering, please contact heritagevolunteers@ottawa.ca.

Venue rentals

wedding ceremony

Billings Estate National Historic Site is a uniquely picturesque and tranquil setting just 10 minutes from downtown Ottawa. The 200-year-old house is surrounded by gardens and reigns over more than 8 acres of lush parkland that can accommodate parties from 15 to 150 guests.

An affordable and flexible option for your wedding, anniversary, or other celebration, Billings Estate offers modern facilities with historic character. Under our marquee tent or inside our meeting rooms, we can help make your gathering both beautiful and successful. 

Weddings and Special Events

Beautiful gardens, historic buildings, and open green space are complemented by a gorgeous antique staircase for photographers to capture your memories. Dressing rooms for the bridal party and special guests are available. Choose your own caterer to make sure your event is exactly how you’ve always dreamed it would be.

Corporate Meetings and Retreats

Need a change of scenery for your meeting, retreat or corporate function? Recharge your company’s batteries at this National Historic Site, which offers modern meeting rooms and equipment in a unique heritage setting.

Amenities for Rentals Include

  • Large marquee tent (30’x50’) with wooden floor and electrical outlets
  • Small tent (20’x20’) with stone floor (available outside of Tea on the Lawn service hours)
  • Tables and chairs for 150 guests
  • Commercial kitchen (available outside of Tea on the Lawn service hours)
  • Two private rooms for up to 20 people
  • Staff to facilitate set-up and take-down
  • More than 8 acres of gardens for photos and activities
  • Technical equipment: TV, VCR, projector, fixed screen, easel/flip chart
  • Free parking

You can book your outdoor special event up to 18 months in advance, and your indoor events can be booked up to 6 months in advance.

Book an appointment

The breathtaking beauty of Billings Estate must be seen to be believed. Make an appointment with our Customer Service Booking Clerk for a tour of our facility and to receive a full rental information package and application form. Call 613-580-2088 or email museums@ottawa.ca.

Accessibility

Work with us to shape your experience. Contact the museum before your visit to discuss your needs. Information about accessibility at the facility, programs, and services is available upon request.

The accessibility features of this facility are detailed below. While the City of Ottawa is constantly working to improve access, please note that not all parts of every facility are necessarily 'accessible for all' as facilities were built to meet accessibility standards of their time.

Parking

  • 2 designated parking spaces 
  • Accessible path of travel from the parking lot to entrance
  • 100 metres from parking space to the door

Passenger Loading Zone

  • Access aisle

Entrance/Exit

  • 2 accessible entrances (Main House and Tombstone Garage)
  • Ramp
  • Wide door for wheelchair passage
  • Automatic door opener
  • Direct access to the main floor, lobby, elevator

Interior

  • Accessible seating available
  • Wheelchair available for patrons

Reception desks

  • Accessible counters
  • Floor area for manoeuvring a wheelchair

Signage

  • Directional signs
  • High contrast signage
  • Large lettering

Washrooms

  • Accessible washrooms on 1st floor and basement
  • Large stalls to allow transfers

Telephone

  • Volume control
  • Accessible path

Museums/Galleries/Archives

  • 2 exhibition spaces are accessible
  • Non FM-loop system available
  • Good visibility for patrons in wheelchairs
  • Interpretive labels/panels in large font

Learn more about special needs and accessible services.