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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.

Proof of vaccination required - Museums

As of September 22, 2021, you must present proof you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter an indoor museum.

Required proof

  • Proof you are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means you have received two doses of a Health Canada approved vaccine at least 14 days prior. The following are accepted:
    • Electronic or hard copy of your vaccination receipt
    • Ontario enhanced vaccine certificate (QR code)
    • Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) vaccination booklet
    • Confirmation of vaccination issued by another jurisdiction
  • Valid identification that shows name and date of birth and has been issued by an institution or public body. Photo identification is not required and the identification does not need to be government-issued.

Exceptions

  • Age 11 and under
  • Those with a documented medical exemption from a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Hours and admission

Billings Estate National Historic Site is now open for indoor visits. Self-guided tours are available Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.

Book your visit now.

Hours of operation: 

Billings Estate National Historic Site will be closed on Thursday, September 30 to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Wednesday – Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm

*Hours of operation may vary for programs and events.

Take-away tea will be offered Thursday to Sunday from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm.

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

Historic Cemetery Tours

Fridays and Saturdays from October 15 to November 13, and Sunday, October 31.
6:30 pm 

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

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.

Please 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.

Barcodes:

Friday, October 15 - 1603594
Saturday, October 16 - 1603595
Friday, October 22 - 1603596
Saturday, October 23 - 1603597
Friday, October 29 - 1603598
Saturday, October 30 - 1603599
Sunday, October 31 - 1603600
Friday, November 5 - 1603602
Saturday, November 6 - 1603601
Friday, November 12 - 1603604
Saturday, November 13 - 1603603

Cost: $15.25 (includes tax)

Monster Mystery at the Museum

Saturday, October 30 and Sunday, October 31 from 10 am to 4 pm.
Advance registration with timed entry required.

Cost: $30 per household (maximum of 10 people per household). *Library passes are not accepted for admission to this program.

A monster family’s Halloween celebration has gone wrong – someone has been up to no good and the candy is missing! Have no fear, our Museum Detectives are on the case and you can join the team. Help them solve the mystery as you explore the museum grounds and complete engaging puzzles and activities along the way in this semi-guided adventure for you and your little ones. Costumes are encouraged! Coffee and hot chocolate will be available for purchase.

This program will take place outdoors and has been adapted to meet public health guidelines.

This program will be delivered in English only.

Please note:

  • This program is best suited for children 10 and under, but older siblings and family members are welcome to join in the fun! Each household group must include at least one adult participant.
  • This program will take place outdoors and will run rain or shine. Please dress for weather conditions including appropriate footwear for grass, gravel, and uneven terrain.
  • Because this program takes place on the museum grounds, it may not be accessible to all. If you have questions about accessibility, please contact the museum at 613-580-2008 ext.35250.
  • All treats will be packaged and quarantined prior to the program.
  • Proof of vaccination is not required for participation in this outdoors-only program. Please plan for a COVID-wise visit. Please bring a mask for use if temporarily accessing indoor facilities (washrooms, etc.) and when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Maintain two meters distance from other who are not a part of your household group (including staff) and practice hand hygiene. Hand sanitizer will be available, but it is recommended that you bring your own.
  • Information to facilitate contact tracing will be collected as part of registration and visitors will be asked screening questions on arrival. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes before your registered start time.
  • If you or a member of your household is not feeling well, please call 613-580-2088 ext. 35250 for assistance with cancelling your registration.

How to register:

Please register using the City of Ottawa’s online system.

    1. If you do not already have an account, create one before registering.
    2. To find the event, from the welcome page, click Activity Search from the menu at the top of the page.
    3. Under Advanced Search in the left-hand menu type “Monster Mystery” into the Containing Keyword field.
    4. Click Show Courses to browse the scheduled time slots. View Details and then click Add to proceed to registration for your desired start time.
    5. Only one registration ($30) is required per household group (max 10 people). Please complete the registration under the name of an adult who will be accompanying the group on the day of the program.
    6. If you require assistance with registration, please contact the museum at 613-580-2088 ext. 35250.

Notice regarding registration: Tickets are non-transferable. ID may be requested to confirm the identity of the primary account holder who completed the registration at check in. If you can no longer attend, please contact the museum at 613-580-2088 ext. 35250 for assistance.

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.