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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.

Pre-book your visit

The museum is currently offering self-guided indoor tours and guided outdoor tours. Visitors are encouraged to pre-book online or by calling the museum by 4 pm the day prior. Visitors without a booking will be admitted only if capacity allows.

Reserve your space now

Hours and admission

Hours of operation: 

Billings Estate National Historic Site is re-opening its doors to visitors on March 3 for self-guided tours of the museum. Please review our COVID measures below before you visit. We recommend all visitors book your tour in advance.

Regular Hours:
Wednesday to Sunday
10 am to 12:15 pm
1:15 pm to 5 pm

*Hours of operation may vary for programs and events.

Regular Admission: 

Adult - $7.25
Students and seniors - $6.00
Youth (ages 6 to 17) - $4.25
Child (5 and under) – Free
Family (2 adults and accompanying children under 18) - $17.50

*Special pricing may apply for programs and events.

What to expect when you visit

We look forward to welcoming you back to the museum! We have adapted the visitor experience to reflect guidance from Ottawa Public Health and the Province of Ontario while still providing fun opportunities to engage with local history. Please read below before planning your outing.

  • The number of visitors inside the museum is limited according to provincial guidelines. Booking your visit online by 4 pm the day prior helps us maintain physical distancing on site.
  • Contact-tracing information will be collected and visitors will be asked screening questions upon arrival.
  • Exploration of the museum is self-guided with directional signage to guide traffic. The second floor is not accessible to visitors at this time. 
  • Please note that as a public health precaution, interactive (hands-on) elements of the exhibitions are not available at this time.
  • Interpreters are available outside on the grounds to answer any questions you might have and to facilitate any scheduled guided or self-guided activities or demonstrations.
  • Pack a picnic, including snacks and water, and make the most of our beautiful grounds! Please note that access to potable water may be limited.
  • Public washrooms are available to museum visitors.

Planning a COVID-wise visit

Help reduce the risk of transmission by being COVID-wise! More information can be found on the Ottawa Public Health website.

  • Only visit the museum with members of your household.
  • Masks are required inside museum buildings including the lobby, exhibition spaces, and washrooms, as well as outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Maintain two meters of distance from others outside your household.
  • If you or a member of your group is not feeling well, cancel your visit by calling 613-580-2088 or emailing museums@ottawa.ca.
  • Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is available in the lobby area but bringing your own is recommended.

Programs and special events

Mid-Winter Challenge

It may be cold outside, but the competition is heating up! Inspired by the harsh winters facing Ottawa’s early lumbermen and homesteaders, this family challenge features feats of strength, puzzles, and trivia. Can you beat the clock?

Saturdays and Sundays 
March 6 to 28, from 10 am to 4pm
Book your timeslot in advance.

This event takes place entirely outdoors. Please dress for the weather.

This event is for groups of 2 to 6 people from the same household. Ages 10+.

Follow the museum on Facebook or subscribe to the “At your museum” eNewsletter for updates.

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.

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.

Cabinet of Curiosities - Virtual Exhibition

Cabinets of curiosities displayed the strange and the scientific, the weird and the wonderful. Our team has gone through our collections and picked out the artefacts that appeal most to them to create our very own cabinet of curiosities. You can enjoy this exhibition from the comfort of your own home while learning the history of each artefact and why it stood out to our staff. Enter Cabinet of Curiosities here!

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.

Due to COVID-19 modified operations, 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 heritagevolunteers@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.

Please note: rentals must comply with all conditions of use in place for managing risks associated with COVID-19.

We are regularly updating our rental program according to public health guidelines. 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, 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.