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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

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: 

August 5 through October 18
Wednesday – Sunday
10 am to 5 pm

*Hours of operation may vary for programs and events.

Admission: 

Adult - $6.75
Students and seniors - $5.75
Child (ages 6 to 17) - $4.00
Child (5 and under) – Free
Family (2 adults and accompanying children under 18) - $18.00

*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. 
  • 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 or social circle.
  • Masks are required inside museum buildings including the lobby, exhibition spaces, and washrooms, as well as when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Maintain two meters of distance from others outside your household or social circle.
  • 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

Activities and demonstrations:

Activities and demonstrations have been adapted to meet public health guidelines.

Wednesday – Self-guided museum tour; guided grounds tour.
Thursday – Self-guided museum tour; guided grounds tour.
Friday – Self-guided museum tour; guided grounds tour.
Saturday - Self-guided museum tour; guided grounds tour; farm chores activity kit; Takeaway Tea.
Sunday- Self-guided museum tour; guided grounds tour; farm chores activity kit; Takeaway Tea.

*Schedule is available at the museum and is subject to change.

Historic Cemetery Tours

Select evenings in September, October, and November.
Cost: $15.25 per person (taxes included).

Experience a unique historical tour of the Settler’s Cemetery and the Billings Estate grounds at dusk. Hear true tales of death, burial, and disease from Bytown and Gloucester Township from a knowledgeable interpreter. This 1-hour guided exploration will take you beyond the walls of a typical visit to the museum and offer a glimpse of life and loss in 19th century Ottawa.

Registration is required and can be completed using the barcodes listed below.

Note:

  • Recommended for ages 16+. The tour discusses difficult subject matter (e.g. disease, violence, death, etc.) and visitor discretion is advised.
  • The tour is offered in English. French language tours can be arranged on request (with a minimum of 10 registered participants). Contact the museum for more information: 613-580-2088.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your tour’s scheduled start time.
  • Tours will take place rain or shine. Dress for weather conditions, wear comfortable shoes, and bring bug spray. The route will include uneven and grassy terrain as well as gravel pathways. If you have questions regarding accessibility, contact 613-580-2088.
  • Plan for a COVID-wise visit. Tour group sizes have been reduced to allow for physical distancing. Maintain two meters of distance from those who are not a part of your household or social circle. Practice hand hygiene and bring a mask for use indoors or times when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Saturday, September 12 at 7 pm (barcode: 1582293)
Saturday, September 19 at 7 pm (barcode: 1582294)
Saturday, September 26 at 7 pm (barcode: 1582295)
Saturday, October 3 at 7 pm (barcode: 1582296)
Saturday, October 10 at 6:30 pm (barcode: 1582297)
Sunday, October 18 at 6:30 pm (barcode: 1582298)
Saturday, October 24 at 6:30 pm (barcode: 1582299)
Saturday, October 31 at 5:30 pm (barcode: 1582300)
Sunday, November 1 at 5:30 pm (barcode: 1582301)
Saturday, November 7 at 5:30 pm (barcode: 1582302)

Tea on the lawn

We are happy to offer a modified takeaway version of our Tea on the Lawn service Saturday - Sunday between 11:30 am and 3:30 pm through Sunday, September 27, 2020. Pack a picnic blanket and enjoy your Takeaway Tea on the museum grounds or enjoy a taste of our visitor-favourite tea service in the comfort of your own home.

Takeaway Tea for One - $10 Includes a selection of finger sandwiches, one scone with jam, and the choice of either fruit or a baked dessert.

Drinks - $2.75 each Choice of tea, coffee or lemonade.

How to order:

Orders for Takeaway Tea must be placed in advance by calling 613-580-2088 ext. 35258. Please place your order by noon the day prior to your visit. Include any allergies or dietary restrictions when placing your order. We will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate dietary restrictions but, due to the availability of ingredients, may not be able to do so in all cases.

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.

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.

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.