Billings Estate National Historic Site

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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: 

Wednesday - Sunday
10 am to 4:30 pm

Book your visit online.

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) - $18.00

*Special pricing may apply for programs and events.

**Please note that the Ottawa Museum Network (OMN) has suspended their library pass program with Ottawa Public Libraries for 2022. For more information regarding the OMN, visit: OttawaMuseumNetwork.ca.

Programs and special events

“A Timeless Gathering” – An interactive theatre experience

Wednesday, August 10 (French-language performances), August 17, August 24, and August 31 with show times at 10:30 am, 1 pm, and 3:30 pm. Run time is 1.5 hours.
Cost: $11.30 per person. This price includes a pot of tea and a sampling of sandwiches and treats inspired by our Tea on the Lawn menu.
Advance registration is required: Please note that this program is supported by a grant from the City of Ottawa’s Older Adult Program. Registration is open to older adults (ages 55 and older) and their caregivers.

A relaxing visit to the museum for refreshments and engaging conversation is interrupted when a strange figure dressed in period clothing suddenly joins your table. Identifying only as “Circa”, this mysterious character is confused to discover they are in the modern era and they have no recollection who they are or how they got here. Some kind of time warp has occurred, and you cannot leave until you’ve helped to put things right. Help Circa piece together clues and riddles to figure out their identity before its too late and you too become trapped in time! 

Presented in partnership with Live History. Live History is a Governor General’s Award-nominated group that performs interactive escape room theatre. Their shows include puzzles and tasks the audience need to solve together to advance the plot or achieve an objective.

How to register:

Registration for “A Timeless Gathering” is completed using Service Ottawa’s online system with the barcodes listed below. You can also find the program listing by navigating to “Activity Search”, clicking on “Advanced Search”, and searching for the keyword “Billings”. 

Barcodes:

French-language performances
Wednesday, August 10:
10:30 am (1636198)

English-language performances
Wednesday, August 17
10:30 am (1636202); 1 pm (1636203); 3:30 pm (1636201).

Wednesday, August 24
10:30 am (1636204); 1 pm (1636205); 3:30 pm (1636206).

Wednesday, August 31
10:30 am (1636207); 1 pm (1636209); 3:30 pm (1636210).

Notes:

  • Program registration is open to participants ages 55 and over and their caregivers. If a caregiver younger than age 55 is accompanying a participant, they must contact the museum directly to register by calling 613-580-2088 or by emailing museums@ottawa.ca.
  • Tickets will not be available for purchase at the door.  Registration will close by 5 pm on the Saturday before your scheduled show date.
  • As part of the registration process you will be prompted to provide any allergy or dietary concerns. We will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate restrictions that are communicated in advance but may be limited in some instances by availability of ingredients. We will not be able accommodate requests made on the show date.
  • Shows with insufficient registration may be cancelled. If an alternative showtime can not be accommodated, a refund will be issued.
  • Please arrive 10 to 15 minutes in advance of your show’s start time. There will be no further admittance after the show begins.
  • Audience members will be seated under the marquee tent on the museum grounds. The show will continue rain or shine; please dress accordingly for weather conditions. In the event of extreme weather with the potential to impact safe operation of this program, registered participants will be contacted directly with further information.
  • Audience members will be seated at a table where they will be able to interact with the costumed performers and other participants to help solve the puzzles. Large groups may be split between multiple tables.
  • Access to the marquee requires travelling over compacted granular pathways and grass. If you have questions regarding accessibility, please contact 613-580-2088 or museums@ottawa.ca.

Can you dig it?

Fridays and Sundays: July 22 through August 28.
10 am to 11:45 am.
Ages 7 to 10.
Cost: $7.20 per child.
Advance registration is required.

Wanted: We’re looking for history detectives, artefact hunters, and curious minds to join our excavation team at Billings Estate National Historic Site! Inspired by Canada’s first paleontologist, Elkanah Billings, we will be digging for artefacts, identifying our mysterious finds, and learning research methods still used by scientists today. Each week will feature a new theme.

Notes:

  • This program will be delivered in English.
  • “Can you dig it?” will take place primarily outdoors. Please dress your child for weather conditions, including sun and heat, and in clothing and shoes that you are comfortable getting dirty. We recommend bringing a hat, sunscreen, and water/snack.
  • The museum grounds include uneven, grassy, and gravel terrain. If you have questions or concerns regarding accessibility, please don’t hesitate to contact the museum at 613-580-2088 or museums@ottawa.ca. Additional information about accessibility can be found on the museum web page.
  • Courses with insufficient registration will be cancelled. If the class or lesson cannot be rescheduled, a refund will be issued.

Registration:

Registration is completed using the Service Ottawa online system with the barcodes listed below. You can also find the program listing by navigating to “Activity Search”, clicking on “Advanced Search”, and searching for the keyword “Billings Estate”. 

Week 1 – Archeology
Please choose your preferred date (the program content does not differ).
Friday, July 22:
1635995, Or;
Sunday, July 24:
1635996.
Allergy notice: One activity will include a cookie “excavation”. All reasonable attempts will be made to ensure the cookies are nut free. However, we cannot guarantee a nut free environment. Please contact the museum if you have questions or concerns regarding allergies.

Week 2 – Geology
Please choose your preferred date (the program content does not differ).
Friday, July 29:
1635997, Or;
Sunday, July 31:
1635998.

Week 3 – Paleontology
Please choose your preferred date (the program content does not differ).
Friday, August 5:
1635999, Or;
Sunday, August 7:
1636000.

Week 4 – Beyond the Pit
Please choose your preferred date (the program content does not differ).
Friday, August 12:
1636001, Or;
Sunday, August 14:
1636002.

Week 5 – Paleontology
Please choose your preferred date (the program content does not differ).
Friday, August 19:
1636003, Or;
Sunday, August 21:
1636004.

Week 6 – Beyond the Pit
Please choose your preferred date (the program content does not differ).
Friday, August 26:
1636005, Or;
Sunday, August 28:
1636006.

Tea on the lawn

Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays from July 3, 2022 through September 4, 2022. 
Seatings are available at 11 am and 1:30 pm. 

*Please note that reservations are full for the 2022 season. Thank you for your incredible interest in this program! Visit our "Programs and Special Events" listing for information on "A Timeless Gathering", an interactive theatre experience which includes refreshments inspired by our Tea on the Lawn menu.

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

2022 Menu and Prices

  • Three-tier service for one: $19.80
    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: $38.85 Two pots of tea; finger sandwiches; two scones with butter and jam; desserts.
    Admission to the museum for two visitors is included.
  • Cream Tea: $6.25
    Pot of tea; scone with jam and Devon cream.

Reservations are required. To discuss your reservation, call 613-580-2088 ext. 35258. 

Large groups: Reservations of 10 or more guests must be confirmed by the tearoom coordinator. Please note that large groups will be divided between tables of four and/or six.

Additional notes:

  • Please indicate any food allergies or dietary restrictions when placing your order. We will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate these requests but may be limited in some instances by availability of ingredients.
  • The tent where tea is served has a patio stone floor which may be rough or uneven for guests with mobility devices. If you have questions or concerns regarding accessibility, please don’t hesitate to speak with a member of the museum staff when making your reservation.
  • Highchairs are available upon request.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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, and archives

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

Learn more about Inclusive Recreation and accessible services.