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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.

Location and hours

2100 Cabot Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1H 6K1

Contact us

Tel.: 613-580-2088
Fax: 613-247-4832
Email: museums@ottawa.ca
Facebook: @BillingsEstate
Instagram: @BillingsEstateMuseum
Subscribe to our monthly "At your museum" eNewsletter. 

Hours

May 12, 2019 to October 13, 2019
Wednesday - Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm
Monday - Tuesday: closed
*Hours of operation may vary for special events and programs.

Admission

Unless otherwise indicated, regular admission fees apply.

Adults - $6.75
Seniors and Students - $5.50
Child - $4.00
Families (two adults and accompanying children) - $16.50
Children 5 and under are free.

Group rates available upon request. Additional fees may be applicable to some special events and programs.

Programs and special events

Picnic at Park Hill (Canada Day)

Monday, July 1 from 10 am to 4 pm
Cost: See the options listed below

Celebrate Canada Day with a picnic and lawn games at Park Hill, the former name for Billings Estate. Enjoy the company of friends and family on our beautiful grounds. Enjoy some old-fashioned fun and games on the lawn and explore the story behind this National Historic Site inside the museum. Leave the prep work in our hands by reserving a yummy picnic lunch for your group or pack your own. Don’t forget to bring a picnic blanket so you can truly sit back and appreciate the relaxed Canada Day fun.

Picnic Basket Reservations

Cost: $12.50 + tax per person
Reserve your picnic basket for 11 am to 12:30 pm or 1 pm to 2:30 pm. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 613-580-2088 ext. 35250. The deadline to make a reservation is Friday, June 28. 

Picnic baskets include Canadian and community history-inspired games for your group and a sandwich, drink, cookie, and piece of fruit for each person included in the reservation as well as admission to the museum and the lawn games.

When making your reservation, please indicate how many lunches you are requesting, which option you would like for each lunch, and the age range of your group (this helps us pack age-appropriate games in the basket). Dietary concerns should be noted at the time of reservation. Please note that accommodations cannot be made on the day of the event.

Option 1: Ham and cheddar cheese sandwich; apple or orange; maple shortbread cookie, and a drink. This option can be made vegetarian (omitting ham) upon request at the time of reservation.

Option 2: Chicken salad sandwich; apple or orange; maple shortbread cookie, and a drink.

Option 3: Hummus and cucumber sandwich; apple or orange; maple shortbread cookie; drink.

Bring Your Own Picnic

Cost: $6.75 per person or $17.50 per family (2 adults + children under 18)

Bring your own picnic or just spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibitions, chat with an interpreter, and challenge their friends to old-fashioned games on the lawn.

Circa (with Live History)

Date: Sunday, July 28
Time: 2:15 pm or 5:00 pm (run time is 1.5 hours)
Age: Recommended for ages 14 and up
Cost: $22.57 (age 14) / $24.50 (ages 15 and up)
Language: English-language performance
Tickets: Please use the barcodes below to reserve your tickets using Service Ottawa’s online registration system. If you do not already have a family account, please create one before registering.

Adult (Ages 15+) - Afternoon (2:15 pm) 1511142
Child (Age 14) – Afternoon (2:15 pm) 1511194
Adult (Ages 15+) – Evening (5 pm) 1511143
Child (Age 14) – Evening (5 pm) 1511195

It’s almost closing time at Billings Estate National Historic Site when you run into a strange figure dressed in period clothes and seeming confused. The mysterious character, identifying only as Circa, is horrified to discover they are in the modern era, and that many of the things they remember and love are now behind glass, on shelves, and written about in history books. They have no recollection of who they are, or how they got there.

Only pictures, items, and stories from a time long ago seem to trigger memories about their identity. Stay with Circa as anecdotes from their life come flooding back and travel through time searching for clues. Make sure to avoid the security guard at closing time as you help Circa discover the ultimate treasure – their identity.

Live History is a Governor General’s Award nominated theatre group that specializes in bringing local history to life.

Note: Please arrive 10-15 minutes (min.) before your show’s start time. There will be no further admittance after the show begins. The show will move guests throughout the house and includes stairs. If you have questions regarding accessibility, please contact 613-580-2088 or museums@ottawa.ca.

Ruckus at the Garden Party (Save the date!)

with an interactive challenge presented by Live History

Sunday, August 25 from 10 am to 4 pm
Ages 18+
Early bird ticket: $25 + HST (through August 18)
Regular ticket: $30 + HST

Ticket details coming soon! 

Dress to impress in your Jazz Age best! This garden party promises to be the bee’s knees. Delight in a 1920s themed fête on the beautiful grounds of one of Ottawa’s oldest homes. Immerse yourself in the era as you enjoy some delicious bites, tea, and beverages served buffet-style. Music and lawn games will help set the scene outside but no garden party would be complete without some high society drama. Move inside the museum where figures from the exhibition have come to life and are causing a ruckus. Follow the gossip, collect clues, and help restore order before time runs out. (Note: the interactive challenge is presented in English only).

Ticket includes vouchers for one drink and one sweet or savoury treat.

School Programs

School Programs and Educational Activities are offered for students from kindergarten to Grade 8 from Wednesday to Friday during the months of May, June, September and October.

 

Children's programs

Please use the barcodes provided to register using Service Ottawa’s online registration system. If you do not already have a family account, please create one before registering.

These workshops will be delivered in English with bilingual (English / French) staff available to assist. 

Step into the kitchen

Thursdays: July 4, July 11, July 18, July 25 from 10 am to 11:30 am
Age: 5 to 7
Cost: $6.65 per child (registration is required)

Measure and mix your way through a heritage cooking lesson. With a new theme each week and a tasty treat to take home, learn how ingredients make their way from the farm to the table.

A minimum of 5 registered participants is required for a program to run.

July 4 - Bread
Barcode: 1469041. Registration deadline is June 27.
July 11 - Butter
Barcode: 1469044. Registration deadline is July 4.
July 18 - Ice Cream
Barcode: 1469045. Registration deadline is July 11.
July 25 - Heritage Cookies
Barcode: 1469046. Registration deadline is July 18.

Preschool Play Dates

Fridays: July 5, July 12, July 19, July 26 from 10 am to 11 am
Age: 3 to 5
Cost: $6.65 per child (registration is required)

Enjoy a morning of discovery with your preschooler and explore different themes in local history through play and hands-on activities at the museum.

A minimum of 5 registered participants is required for the program to run.

Note: A parent or guardian must be present during this program. There is no additional cost for the participating parent/guardian. Please be advised that portions of this program may take place outdoors. We recommend that parents have weather-appropriate attire on hand.

July 5 – Wood
Barcode: 1481707. Registration deadline is June 28.
July 12 – Water
Barcode: 1481711. Registration deadline is July 5.
July 19 – Earth
Barcode: 1481713. Registration deadline is July 12.
July 26 – Stone
Barcode: 1481714. Registration deadline is July 26.

Raise the Root

Wednesdays: July 10, July 24, August 7, August 21 from 10 am to 11 am
Age: 6 to 9
Cost: $6.65 per child (registration is required)

Get your hands dirty as you discover your green thumb in our veggie garden. Learn the dos and don’ts of maintaining your home garden with a historical twist.

A minimum of 5 registered participants is required for the program to run.

July 10 – Preparing and Planting
Barcode: 1481743. Registration deadline is July 3.
July 24 – Care and Prevention
Barcode: 1481745. Registration deadline is July 17.
August 7 – Farms and Markets
Barcode: 1481746. Registration deadline is July 31.
August 21 – Pickling and Preserves
Barcode: 1481747. Registration deadline is August 14.

Can you dig it?

Thursdays: August 1, August 8, August 15, August 22 from 1 pm to 2:30 pm
Age: 8 to 11
Cost: $6.65 per child (registration is required)

Be inspired by Canada’s first paleontologist, Elkanah Billings, and get your hands dirty as you learn to dig for artefacts, identify mystery objects, and try techniques used by scientists every day. A different theme each week!

A minimum of 5 registered participants is required for a program to run.

August 1 - Paleontology
Barcode: 1469053. Registration deadline is July 25.
August 8 - Geology
Barcode: 1469058. Registration deadline is August 1.
August 15 - Archeology
Barcode: 1469061. Registration deadline is August 8.
August 22 - Beyond the Pit
Barcode: 1469063. Registration deadline is August 15

Young Naturalists

Fridays: August 2, August 9, August 16, August 23 from 10 am to 11 am
Age: 3 to 5
Cost: $6.65 per child (registration is required)

Preschooler and parent will explore the Estate together and discover the world like a 19th century naturalist, a historical profession and pastime that combined interests in the arts, sciences, and inquiry.

A minimum of 5 registered participants is required for the program to run.

Note: A parent or guardian must be present during this program. There is no additional cost for the participating parent/guardian. Please be advised that this program will take place outdoors. We recommend that parents have weather-appropriate attire on hand.

August 2 – Discover
Barcode: 1481750. Registration deadline is July 26.
August 9 – Conserve
Barcode: 1481751. Registration deadline is August 2.
August 16 – Present
Barcode: 1481753. Registration deadline is August 9.
August 23 – Adapt
Barcode: 1481754. Registration deadline is August 16.

Tea on the lawn

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays from May 15, 2019 to September 1, 2019 (excluding May 15, May 16, June 9, June 16, Canada Day, and August 25).

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.

Admission to the museum is included with your Tea on the Lawn purchase. 

2019 Menu and Prices

  • Three-tier service for one: $18.10 
    Pot of tea; finger sandwiches; scone with butter and jam; desserts
  • Three-tier service for two: $35.55 
    Two pots of tea; finger sandwiches; two scones with butter and jam; desserts
  • Cream Tea: $6.25
    Pot of tea; scone with jam and Devon cream.

Seatings are available at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:30 pm.

Capacity is limited and reservations are recommended. To make a reservation, call 613-580-2088 ext. 35258.

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.

When making your reservation, please let us know of any dietary accommodations or mobility concerns. High chairs are available upon request.

Boxed Lunches

May 15, 2019 to September 1, 2019
Cost: $7.80 per boxed lunch

Boxed lunches are available for purchase and can be enjoyed while picnicking on the museum grounds. Each lunch includes one of the sandwiches being prepared for the day’s tea service, a dessert, drink, and fruit.

To reserve a boxed lunch, please call 613-580-2088 ext. 35258.

Bring Your Own

Visitors are also welcome to bring their own snacks or meals and picnic in the park. To preserve the artefacts in the museum, no eating or drinking is permitted in the exhibition spaces.

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.

Temporary Exhibition - Water: A Journey to the Source (opening spring 2019)

Water: A Journey to the Source is a special exhibition exploring how Ottawans have obtained, used, abused, and conserved this precious resource. It takes visitors from the frigid depths of the ancient Champlain Sea to the warm baths of Victorian spas and through the inner workings of our modern water treatment plants. Stories of whales and well diggers, water witches and waterworks engineers join never-before-seen artefacts to tell the cultural and social history of water in our city and region.

Sneak previews open at the Atrium Gallery (Ben Franklin Place) on March 22 and at Ottawa City Hall on May 1. The full exhibition opens on May 12 at Billings Estate National Historic Site, Nepean Museum, and Pinhey’s Point Historic Site.

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.

Venue rentals

wedding ceremony

Billings Estate National Historic Site is a uniquely picturesque and tranquil setting just 10 minutes from downtown Ottawa. The 200-year-old house is surrounded by gardens and reigns over more than 8 acres of lush parkland that can accommodate parties from 15 to 150 guests.

An affordable and flexible option for your wedding, anniversary, or other celebration, Billings Estate offers modern facilities with historic character. Under our marquee tent or inside our meeting rooms, we can help make your gathering both beautiful and successful. 

Weddings and Special Events

Beautiful gardens, historic buildings, and open green space are complemented by a gorgeous antique staircase for photographers to capture your memories. Dressing rooms for the bridal party and special guests are available. Choose your own caterer to make sure your event is exactly how you’ve always dreamed it would be.

Corporate Meetings and Retreats

Need a change of scenery for your meeting, retreat or corporate function? Recharge your company’s batteries at this National Historic Site, which offers modern meeting rooms and equipment in a unique heritage setting.

Amenities for Rentals Include

  • Large marquee tent (30’x50’) with wooden floor and electrical outlets
  • Small tent (20’x20’) with stone floor (available outside of Tea on the Lawn service hours)
  • Tables and chairs for 150 guests
  • Commercial kitchen (available outside of Tea on the Lawn service hours)
  • Two private rooms for up to 20 people
  • Staff to facilitate set-up and take-down
  • More than 8 acres of gardens for photos and activities
  • Technical equipment: TV, VCR, projector, fixed screen, easel/flip chart
  • Free parking

You can book your outdoor special event up to 18 months in advance, and your indoor events can be booked up to 6 months in advance.

Book an appointment

The breathtaking beauty of Billings Estate must be seen to be believed. Make an appointment with our Customer Service Booking Clerk for a tour of our facility and to receive a full rental information package and application form. 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.