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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

Location      

2100 Cabot Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1H 6K1

Tel.: 613-580-2088
Fax: 613-247-4832
Email: museums@ottawa.ca

Hours

Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm from May 13 through October 28, with special programming offered throughout the year. Times may vary for special events and/or programs. Be sure to check all listings for more details.

The Tea on the Lawn service is available on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays from May 16 to September 2. Reservations are recommended.

Admission

Unless otherwise indicated, regular admission fees apply.

Adults - $6.50
Seniors and Students - $5.50
Youth - $4.00
Families (two adults and unlimited children) - $16.00
Children 5 and under are free

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

Stay connected

Find us on Facebook or sign up for our monthly "At your museum" eNewsletter

Upcoming Events and Programs

Picnic at Park Hill

Sunday, July 1 – 10 am to 4 pm

Celebrate Canada Day with a picnic and lawn games at Park Hill, the former name for Billings Estate. Relax and enjoy our beautiful grounds while enjoying a prepared picnic lunch. Your picnic basket will include a boxed lunch for each guest (sandwich, dessert, fruit, and drink), a blanket, as well as self-guided games and activities highlighting Canadian, Victorian, and Billings family history. Lawn games will also be set up for added family fun! Complete your day by exploring our exhibitions and completing the photo scavenger hunt included in your basket.

Reservations are required. Reserve your Picnic at Park Hill beginning Friday, June 8 at 10 am by calling 613-580-2088. Picnic seatings are available at 11 am - 12:30 pm and 1 pm - 2:30 pm. 

Cost: $10 per group + $7.65 per boxed lunch. (Admission to the museum is included with your picnic reservation).

Bring your own

The museum will also be open to visitors who would like to bring their own picnic lunch, participate in the games on the lawn and explore the exhibitions. Reservations are not required. 

Cost: $6.50 single; $10.75 pair; $17.25 family

Victorian Medical Practices

Wednesday, July 11 – 10:30 am to 12 pm
Ages 8 to 13

What did medical care look like in the time of Lamira Dow Billings? The Billings family were the first settlers in Gloucester Township and with no doctors nearby, Lamira was responsible for her family’s care. Both she and her daughter, Sally, would become known in their community for their homemade medicines and remedies.

Learn about country medicine, test your knowledge with Victorian medicine trivia, compare an apothecary kit to modern first aid supplies, make your own remedy – homemade bug repellent, and more! Add your flourish to a get-well poster for CHEO patients that will be signed by kids from across the city at museum programs throughout the summer.

Cost: $6.50 per child

Barcode: 1406420

Registration is required. You can register for this program using the City of Ottawa’s online registration system. Enter the program barcode in the box labelled “Search for programs by barcode”. Click “Add” and log in to complete registration. If you do not already have an account, click “Create new family account”.

Can You Dig It?

Thursday July 5, July 12, July 19, and July 26 – 10 am to 11:30 am
Ages 6 to 9

This program is the perfect fit for aspiring Indiana Joneses! Each Thursday in July we’ll get our hands dirty tackling a different theme with hands-on activities inspired by Canada’s first paleontologist, Elkanah Billings. Learn to dig for artefacts, identify mysterious objects, and practice techniques used by scientists every day in their work.

Cost: $6.50 per child

Registration is required. You can register for this program using the City of Ottawa’s online registration system. Enter the program barcode in the box labelled “Search for programs by barcode”. Click “Add” and log in to complete registration. If you do not already have an account, click “Create new family account”.

July 5 – Paleontology: Fossil Dig

What techniques are used to excavate fossils? What kinds of discoveries have paleontologists like Elkanah Billings made?

Barcode: 1406387

July 12 – Kitchen Midden: Pottery

What are middens and what can they tell us about past societies? What clues can be uncovered from pottery shards?

Barcode: 1406454

July 19 – Archeology of Buildings

Can you guess how a building was used just from its ruins? Can the clues left behind tell you what a building looked like?

Barcode: 1406463

July 26 – Geology

How do geologists set up a dig? Can you identify the stones and crystals you might find?

Barcode: 1406472

Little Critters

Friday July 6, July 13, July 20, and July 27 - 10 am to 11:00 am
Ages 3 to 5

Look up! Look down! What critters might be calling Billings Estate home? We’re taking our cue from amateur entomologist Braddish Billings II and paleontologist Elkanah Billings by exploring the creature world both past and present. Some activities will take place outdoors; please dress for the weather.

Cost: $6.50 per child. 
A parent/guardian must accompany children participating in this program. There is no additional program fee for the parent/guardian.

Registration is required. You can register for this program using the City of Ottawa’s online registration system. Enter the program barcode in the box labelled “Search for programs by barcode”. Click “Add” and log in to complete registration. If you do not already have an account, click “Create new family account”.

July 6 – Bugs vs. Insects

What’s more fun than searching out the creepy crawlies hiding in the garden or lurking on the lawn? Let your imagination run wild designing your own bug hat based on a bug of your creation!

Barcode: 1406411

July 13 – Feathered Friends

Can you identify a bird just by its call or its feathers? Make your very own bird feeder to take home with you!

Barcode: 1406456

July 20 – Mammals

From bunnies to badgers, what kinds of furry friends live in Ottawa’s rural areas? Test your knowledge with a memory game and get creative with a mammal-inspired craft.

Barcode: 1406467

July 27 – Ancient Critters

What ancient critters can we find signs of at Billings Estate? Make your own fossil out of clay!

Barcode: 1406477

Heritage Gardening

Saturdays in July and August – 11 am to 1 pm

Complement your museum experience with a drop-in visit to the heritage garden. Costumed interpreters will provide context on the harsh realities of early Canada subsistence farming and how the Billings became some of the most successful farmers in the area. As the season changes, we’ll explore different themes from planting and pest control to harvesting and pickling. Leave with knowledge you can take home and apply to your own backyard garden.

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.

 

Tea on the Lawn

Tea on the Lawn

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays from May 16 to September 2.

Tea on the lawn is served overlooking our beautiful flower gardens and is a perfect way to relax and enjoy the grounds of this national historic site. Specializing in refreshments and baked goods made from scratch, our food service is a unique addition to the site. 

Tea and a scone with jam: $6.15 (including taxes)
Three-tier tea service for one: $14.70 (including taxes)
Three-tier tea service for two: $28.85 (including taxes) 
The three-tier tea service includes finger sandwiches, scones, and desserts.

Seatings are available at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:30 pm. Reservations are recommended. Please call the Museum at 613-580-2088 ext. 35258. Because we use the freshest ingredients possible, please contact the Museum if you have any questions about the daily menu.

Special themed tea services are also offered at various times throughout the year. Please refer to our "Upcoming Events and Programs" listing for information.

Boxed Lunches

May 16 to September 2

If you’re interested in refreshments but prefer a more casual meal than our Tea on the Lawn service, boxed lunches are available and can be enjoyed while picnicking on the Museum grounds. Boxed lunches include one of the sandwiches being prepared for the day’s tea service, a dessert, a drink, and a piece of fruit. Please call ahead to avoid disappointment.

Cost: $7.65 per boxed lunch (including taxes)

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.

City in Motion: From Rivers to Roads

Opening May 13

Where rivers, portages, and roads met, First Nations people and European settlers made their homes. From Rivers to Roads interprets the significance of the Ottawa River for travel and trade as well as the subsequent development of road systems that facilitated movement further inland.

City in Motion explores all the ways Ottawa residents have travelled from point A to point B. Learn more about the region’s transportation history by visiting all four City in Motion exhibitions, each one expanding on a different theme. City in Motion is on display at Billings Estate National Historic Site, Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, Nepean Museum, and Pinhey’s Point Historic Site.

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.

 

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.