There's no need to drive more than 30 minutes beyond downtown Ottawa to step back in time at a historic village! Cumberland Heritage Village Museum provides an immersive and educational experience that showcases life in the 1920s and 30s with dozens of heritage and true-to-the-era reproduction buildings. Find a quiet escape, or join us for our special events. Cumberland Heritage Village Museum always offers a unique experience that encourages you to play in the past and make memories for the future.
Cumberland Heritage Village Museum
Hours and admission
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 Train Station 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 613-580-2988 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is available in the Vars Train Station but bringing your own is recommended.
Collections and exhibits
Representing a fascinating period in our history - the 1920s and 1930s - the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum's collection represents the social, cultural, technological, and economic changes of the era between the First and Second World Wars. Textiles, mass communication devices, agricultural equipment, recreational items, and furnishings are just a few examples of the more than 19,000 objects in our care in this collection, with many of them on site as part of the museum's immersive exhibition experience.
*Please note that due to public health guidelines, interior exhibition spaces are not accessible at this time.
Virtual Exhibition - Cabinet of Curiosities
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!
Nestled next to fields of hay, corn, and barley, the entire museum is an immersive exhibition that tells the story of rural life as new technologies, transportation, and cultural trends were emerging. As you stroll through the village and explore its many buildings and spaces, you and your family will learn the stories of a fascinating part of history and see thousands of historic objects, machinery, and equipment that may seem in some ways so different from today, and in other ways very much the same.
Dairy in the Interwar Period (Taylor Barn)
This interactive exhibition examines how dairy farming made significant gains and continued to emerge as a major industry in eastern Ontario. The shift in farming techniques, the movement towards creating products like cheese and butter allowing for year round income, and advancements in technology and legislation, allowed farmers to produce products for Ottawa and the surrounding areas.
The Vars Train Station, complete with a station master’s office, a passenger waiting room, and freight room, tells the story of rail and telegraph service just before the automobile and telephone became the dominant means of transportation and communication for rural residents.
Housing vintage vehicles, mechanic’s tools and commercial automotive supplies, Watson’s garage symbolizes the move towards advanced technology and a more mobile society during the interwar period. This single-storey building was originally built as a bicycle shop in 1925 and then converted to an Imperial Gas Station.
A.E. McKeen General Store
An essential service in a rural community, the general store tells the tale of how people shopped and the variety of goods available for purchase as the consumer culture wave began sweeping its way across Canada. On display you’ll find dry goods such as fabrics, notions, and gardening tools, as well as consumables like tinned goods, packaged tea, and candies available to rural communities in the 1920s and 30s.
Our resident blacksmith tells the story of the transition from handmade goods to mass production and the ever adapting craftsmen in the face of technological advance. See the blacksmith forging wrought iron and steel into items of all kinds. You’ll see bellows used to fan the coals of the fire and then the hammering of the red-hot iron on the anvil before the metal is cooled with water.
Sawmill and Shingle Mill
Equipped with a diesel-powered engine, the fully operational sawmill is an example of local manufacturing industries unable to compete with factories of mass production.
Housing equipment once used to make wooden water pumps for local farms, the pump factory is a unique example of rural ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit.
This tiny house, built circa 1820, stands in stark contrast to other buildings as a testament to how far rural communities had modernized by the end of the 1930’s. It is furnished as the modest shop of a seamstress at a time when manufactured, ready-to-wear clothes began overtaking the clothing industry. The oldest building on site, it’s associated with one of the area’s first settlers – François Dupuis.
The Duford House symbolizes a home typical of rural farming families with limited means with a garage and vegetable garden. The home is modestly furnished throughout with evidence of the many children who once lived there. The log-frame construction is hidden with wood siding. The house evolved over time to accommodate a family of 14 at one point. Jean Baptiste Duford built this 1 ½ storey home in 1925; the smaller home incurred cheaper taxes than a full 2-storey structure.
Unlike their city counterparts, rural children were taught in one-room school houses equipped with wood stoves and oil lamps during the interwar era.
Exhibiting various styles of printing presses, the print shop shows a profession under pressure as mass communication through print and radio distributed from urban centres found its way to rural communities during the 1920s and 1930s.
With its modern electric appliances, telephone and automobile garage, Foubert house (built circa 1915) represents a rural home on the brink of the modern age. The electric ice box and the stove contrast with the wood burning stove and the pressed tin ceilings.
A focal point of every village and town, rural churches held communities together through worship, charity and fellowship. They were the center of life’s celebrations, personal contemplation and remembrance. Built in 1904 in the Gothic Revival tradition, the Church features decorative cornices, arched windows with stained glass, hand-painted stencilling, decorative wooden wainscoting, and an ornate coffered ceiling.
Home to the village of Cumberland’s first fire truck (1938), the fire hall displays equipment and memorabilia relating to the evolution of fire fighting technology that made huge strides during the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Heritage herbs and vegetables are grown on site. In rural communities families still grew their own food in gardens beside their homes, preserving the produce for the remainder of the year despite the convenience of the emerging grocery stores and outdoor markets in the city.
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 email@example.com.
A vintage rural setting with dozens of historic and true-to-era buildings, acres of greenspace, and gardens provide a nostalgic and picturesque backdrop for your special events.
- The marquee tent is not available for use at this time.
- 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 613-580-2988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Work with us to shape your experience. Contact the museum before your visit to discuss your needs. Information about the accessibility of the facility, or our 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.
- 4 designated parking spaces
- Accessible path of travel from the parking lot to entrance
- 22 metres from parking space to the door
- Direct access to the main floor and admissions.
- Ramps in 16 of 20 buildings
- Automatic door access to Train Station and Canteen
- Wheelchair available to patrons
- Accessible counters
- Floor area for manoeuvring a wheelchair
- Directional signs
- High contrast signage
- Large lettering
- Slip resistant surfaces
- Low pile carpet, Wooden floor boards and G-floor covering
- Accessible washroom (Canteen)
- Automatic door opener
- Lowered sink counters
- Large stalls to allow transfers
- Good colour contrast (Train Station)
- Continuous hand rails (Train Station & Duford House)
- 14 exhibitions spaces are accessible
Learn more about special needs and accessible services.