Billings Estate National Historic Site

On this page

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.

Hours and admission

Hours of operation

Winter hours:
Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm

Closed:

  • March 27 to April 4 (reopening April 5), with the exception of special events.
  • May 1 to May 14 (reopening May 15), with the exception of special events.

General admission 

  • Adult - $7.59
  • Students and seniors - $6.28
  • Play free: free general admission for children and youth (aged 17 and under) and accompanying adults.

*Please note that registration or admission fees may apply for programs and special events

Programs and special events

Open house

Thursday, March 7 from 10 am to 8 pm
Guided Tours: 2 pm and 6 pm

Members of the public are invited to celebrate the opening of Billings Estate National Historic Site’s latest exhibition, “Steeped in Traditions: Ottawa Tea Cultures and Rituals”, with free admission to the museum and extended operating hours on Thursday, March 7. Drop by between the hours of 10 am to 8 pm to explore Ottawa’s oldest wood-framed house and to discover stories, photographs, and artefacts showcasing our region’s varied tea cultures.

Easter at the Estate

Saturday, March 30 and Sunday, March 31 from 10 am to 4 pm
Cost: $19.28 + tax per group (six people maximum per group; children under two are not counted toward the group total)
Advance registration is required. Best suited for families with children ages 4 to 7. 

Spring has arrived at the Billings farm! Join us at the museum to explore our community’s agricultural heritage with fun, hands-on family activities. Decorate eggs with natural dyes, complete a scavenger hunt, challenge friends and family to an egg and spoon race, exercise your green thumb with a planting activity, and meet some animal friends at the petting zoo.

To register, please visit Register Ottawa and search for your preferred timeslot using the activity codes listed below. Registration should be completed by an adult (18+) who will be present on the day of the program. 

March 30 (10 am to 12:30 pm) - 90688
March 30 (1:30 pm to 4 pm) - 90689
March 31 (10 am to 12:30 pm) - 90691
March 31 (1:30 pm to 4 pm) - 90690

Notes:

  • This program will be delivered primarily in English. Bilingual (English/French) staff may be present to assist visitors and all printed materials will be provided in both languages.
  • Registration is non-refundable and non-transferable.
  • This program runs rain or shine and takes place both indoors and outdoors. Please check the forecast and dress for weather conditions, including proper footwear for wet, snowy, or muddy conditions.
  • All reasonable attempts will be made to ensure any candies or chocolate distributed as part of this program are nut free. However, we cannot guarantee a 100% nut free environment.
  • If you have event participation questions due to disability or have concerns regarding the accessibility of the event, please contact the museum by phone at 613-580-2088 or by email at museums@ottawa.ca. Additional information about accessibility can be found on the museum web page.

Steeped in traditions: Ottawa tea cultures and rituals

Steeped in Traditions: Ottawa Tea Cultures and Rituals

February 28, 2024 to October 13, 2024
See museum hours and admission to plan your visit

Steeped in Traditions: Ottawa Tea Cultures and Rituals explores the history, traditions, and aesthetics of our region’s varied tea cultures. The exhibition celebrates human connections to community and the natural environment through the lens of tea consumption. Residents and cultural organizations are contributing to this exhibition by sharing their own stories, photographs, and tea-related objects. In combination with artefacts from the City of Ottawa Museums and Historic Sites collection, these personal touches highlight the commonalities found in this shared daily ritual as well as the unique values and practices of Ottawa’s diverse communities.

Note: This exhibition is located on the second floor of the museum and is only accessible by stairs. Visual aids will be available for those unable to access the exhibition. If you have questions or concerns regarding accessibility, please contact the museum at 613-580-2088 or by email at museums@ottawa.ca. Additional information about accessibility can be found on the museum webpage.

Open House

Thursday, March 7 from 10 am to 8 pm
Guided tours: 2 pm and 6 pm

Members of the public are invited to celebrate the opening of Billings Estate National Historic Site’s latest exhibition, “Steeped in Traditions: Ottawa Tea Cultures and Rituals”, with free admission to the museum and extended operating hours on Thursday, March 7. Drop by between the hours of 10 am to 8 pm to explore Ottawa’s oldest wood-framed house and to discover stories, photographs, and artefacts showcasing our region’s varied tea cultures.

Tea on the lawn

Tea on the Lawn

Complement your visit to Billings Estate National Historic Site with Tea on the Lawn. Enjoy tea and freshly baked goods alongside our beautiful gardens. Heritage staff are happy to highlight the unique history of the estate, making Tea on the Lawn a memorable addition to your museum experience.

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays from May 15, 2024 through September 1, 2024.
Seatings available at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:30 pm. 
Reservations open April 24, 2024.

When offered, seasonal or themed tea events are listed under “Programs and special events.”

2024 menu and prices

  • Three-tier service for one: $18.32 plus tax: Pot of tea; finger sandwiches; scone with butter and jam; desserts. Admission to the museum for one visitor is included.
  • Three-tier service for two: $35.95 plus tax: Two pots of tea; finger sandwiches; two scones with butter and jam; desserts. Admission to the museum for two visitors is included.
  • Cream Tea: $5.53 plus tax: Pot of tea; scone with jam and Devon cream.

*Devon cream can be added to any three-tier service for an additional $3 fee.

Reservations

Reservations are required. To request your reservation, call 613-580-2088 ext.35258 beginning April 24, 2024. Reservation requests should be made no later than 4 pm on the Sunday prior to your desired visit.  Please include the following information with your reservation request:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Number of seats you would like to reserve
  • Preferred date and seating time (10:30 am, 12:30 pm, or 2:30 pm)
  • Food allergies or dietary restrictions (e.g., gluten-free, vegan, etc.)

Reservations are filled in the order they are received. Any messages will be returned in a timely manner (your reservation is not confirmed until a museum staff member returns your message). We appreciate your patience while our staff process the high volume of calls.

Additional notes:

  • Large groups: Reservations for 10 or more guests must be confirmed by the tearoom coordinator. Please note that large groups will be divided between tables that seat four or six guests. To keep pathways clear, tables cannot be pushed together.
  • We will make all reasonable efforts to meet allergy and dietary restrictions (as indicated at the time of reservation; same-day requests cannot be accommodated). However, we cannot guarantee an environment that is free of all risk of allergen cross-contamination. Alternative menu options may vary with the availability of ingredients.
  • Tea on the Lawn is served outside under an open-sided tent with a stone floor which may be rough or uneven for guests using mobility devices. A passenger drop-off and pick-up zone is available in front of the museum entrance. If you have questions or concerns regarding accessibility, please inform staff at the time of reservation or contact the museum by email at museums@ottawa.ca. Additional information about accessibility can be found on the museum web page.
  • In the event of inclement weather, Tea on the Lawn service may be moved inside the museum. In the rare case that severe weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances necessitate the cancellation of a Tea on the Lawn service, all guests with reservations will be contacted directly with further information.

Picnic on the museum grounds

Visitors are welcome to bring their own snacks and picnic on the museum grounds. To preserve the artefacts in the museum, no eating or drinking is permitted in the exhibition spaces. Outside food is also not permitted in the tent where Tea on the Lawn is served.

Collections and permanent exhibitions

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. 

Exhibitions

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.

Billings Family virtual exhibition 

The Billings Family virtual exhibit, presented by the City of Ottawa Archives, gives a view of the Billings Family and their interactions with the growing city center of Ottawa and Billings Bridge Village. The histories are written from the perspective of one family’s experiences and activities, within the context of Ottawa’s development as a city.

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.

The museums are not currently accepting new volunteers. If you have any questions about the volunteer program or would like to be notified when volunteering resumes, please contact museums@ottawa.ca.

Rentals

Reminiscent of a country estate, the nearly 200-year-old manor house and surrounding eight acres of landscaped greenspace and gardens provide a picturesque and historical backdrop for your special event.

For more information, please contact our Customer Service Booking Clerk. 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

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
  • Large stalls to allow transfers

Telephone

  • Volume control
  • Accessible path

Museums, galleries, and archives

  • 2 exhibition spaces are accessible
  • Good visibility for patrons in wheelchairs
  • Interpretive labels or panels in large font

Learn more about Inclusive Recreation and accessible services.