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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.

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Upcoming Events and Programs

Pride and Prejudice and Poe

Sunday, August 26 — 10:30 am to 4 pm

Wear your heart on your sleeve and experience two different expressions of romance: the reserved and refined romance of Austen’s novels and the mysterious and melancholy romance of Poe’s gothic works. Explore romantic tales from Billings history and learn about the writers in the family. Divine your own destiny using cartomancy, make a custom tea blend, create a bookmark for your own literary pursuits, and more!. Visitors are encouraged to dress as their favourite Austen or Poe characters.

Cost: $6.50 single; $10.75 pair; $17.25 family. Tea service is also available by reservation. See information below for further details.

Tea Service

Complement your Pride and Prejudice and Poe experience with a three-tier tea service on our beautiful grounds. Your tea reservation includes admission to the museum and participation in the day’s program and activities. Reservations are required.

Reservations for the tea service can be made beginning Tuesday, July 24 at 10 am by calling 613-580-2088 ext. 35258.

Cost: $22.60 per person (includes admission to the museum and participation in the day's programs and activities). 

Body in Motion – Yoga and Breakfast

Sunday, August 19 — 9 am to 11:30 am
Ages 15 and up

Begin your day with a guided yoga session led by a local instructor. Regardless of your skill level, experience a practice that emphasizes mindfulness, movement, and the connection between mind and body. Following the session, enjoy a light breakfast including tea and fruit. Explore the theme of body in motion even further through our exhibitions that touch on human-powered modes of transportation such as the canoeing and cycling. Please dress appropriately for weather conditions. We recommend participants bring a yoga mat and a bottle of water. 

Cost: $16 per person. Registration is required. The Registration deadline is Thursday, August 16. A minimum of 7 registered participants is required for the program to run.

Barcode: 1406632

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”.

History Detectives

Wednesday August 1, August 8, August 15, and August 22 — 1 pm to 3 pm
​Ages 8 to 12

Each week History Detectives will tackle a new case and participants will solve a mystery inspired by the history of Billings Estate through artefact study, games, crafts, and more.

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”.

August 15 – The Big Heist

Decode cryptograms to solve the case of the missing farm equipment.

Barcode: 1406537

August 22 – The Case of the Cracked Vase

Who broke the vase? Can you use your artefact-handling skills to repair it?

Barcode: 1406551

Step into the Kitchen

Thursday August 2, August 9, August 16, and August 23 — 10 am to 11:30 pm
Ages 5 to 7

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

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”.

August 16 – Butter

Practice using a butter churn. Shake and make some butter of your own.

Barcode: 1406541

August 23 - Jam

Learn the basics of preserves and mash berries for your jam jar.

Barcode: 1406556

Preschool Play Dates

Friday August 3, August 10, August 17, and August 24 — 10 am to 11 am
Ages 3 to 5

Bring your preschoolers to the museum for history-inspired play, dress-up, and hands-on activities with a new theme each week.

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”.

A parent/guardian must accompany children participating in this program. There is no additional program fee for the parent/guardian. Portions of this program will be outside. Participants should be dressed for the weather.

August 17 – Be a Builder like Braddish Billings

Learn about the history of the Billings Bridge and construct your own bridge using the strongest shapes and structures.

Barcode: 1406546

August 24 – Settler Lifestyle

Dress up in heritage costume, play with Victorian-era toys, and make your own paper quilt.

Barcode: 1406563

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.