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Billings Estate National Historic Site

September 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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For the first time this week, we went to a small museum in our city.   It was the historic estate of one of Ottawa’s founding families and we learned moIMG_9359re about how the Billings family settled on the shores of the Rideau River in 1812, build farms, constructed a bridge and managed a timber business.

It was a field trip organized by another homeschooling mom in town but I think it is fascinating to learn the history of a specific place while visiting an area.   I love to explore the history of an area when we travel in order to learn more while we travel.    So this is my primary reason for presenting you this little museum that present part of the heritage of Ottawa and how it was involved in the lumber business many years ago.

The Billings family started when the first settlers of Gloucester Township, Braddish Billings and Lamira Dow Billings came and established themselves on the emplacement of the current museum.   They contributed to the community over many generations in many areas like medicine and healthcare, promoting development in business, real estate and politics.   They were a perfect example of prospering in the wilderness through hard work and ingenuity.

For the purpose of our visit, we had two groups done – younger and older.   The older kids have learned much about lumberjack on the river while the younger kids learned more about life on the estate – how they cooked and how to build a log house.   Unbeknown to me I also learned previous to our visit to the estate that my kids great-grand-pa Lussier had worked as a lumberjack before becoming a farmer.  So this was a good family history as well!

Inside the original house, you can visit an exhibit presenting the lives of five generations of Billings who lived in the area and abroad.   Through the information in this exhibit you can learn more about their contributions, education, religion, science, and more.   A great way to learn more about one of the first family in Ottawa!

During our visit, the younger kids learned how the pioneers built their new homes and when it was the best time to cut trees, the construction techniques, and the high importance of the natural resources while building a log cabin.  They also learned to make breakfast caked and freshly churned butter.

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Meanwhile, the older kids learned to about lumbering along the river, how to identify trees on the estate, what was involved in the life of a lumberjack and the treacherous job it could be when you were not careful.  They played an interesting game in order to learn more about the timber business took a quick tour of the house, even went to see the cemetery a bit.

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At the end of our visit, the kids were introduced to some Victorian games that people used to play back in those days.   They loved each of them but they all preferred the sticks and hoops to throw each other.

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During the warmer season, Tea of the Lawn is served from May 12th to August 28th on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 11am until 4pm.  Reservations are recommended and expect to pay a bit more for this special activity.

An admission fee is required to visit the museum.   You should expect to pay 6$ per adult, 3.50$ per child or 16$ for a family.

The museum is located at 2100 Cabot Street in Ottawa, ON.   It is located in a neighborhood so don’t be surprised if you drive past a community.

What about you?  What special historic place have you discovered while traveling?

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