Fun fact: Ottawa has seven of Canada’s nine national museums! But did you know, the capital city also has 11 other local museums as well? Explore Ottawa’s 11 other museums in the Ottawa Museum Network!
Billings Estate National Historic Site
Explore the rich history of the Billings family and their Ottawa home at the Billings Estate National Historic Site. The estate was built in 1829 by Braddish Billings, a prominent merchant, and has been preserved to showcase how the property evolved over time. You can learn about this evolution through guided tours, exhibits and interactive displays that highlight architecture, art and artifacts. The estate boasts picture perfect gardens that reflect the periods they were designed in!
The Bytown Museum is housed in the Commissariat Building, built in 1827, it’s located downtown where the Rideau Canal meets the Ottawa River, beside the historic Chateau Laurier. The building once served as a storehouse for British soldiers' provisions during the construction of the Rideau Canal and ongoing exhibits focus on the city's early years, from its beginnings as a small trading post to its evolution into a bustling city. Learn about the construction of the Rideau Canal, the city and the people who shaped its history through interactive displays, artifacts and multimedia presentations. The Bytown museum also offers guided tours and educational programs for school groups, making it a great choice for history enthusiasts of all ages.
Cumberland Heritage Village Museum
This history museum will immerse you in the daily life and history of a rural Ottawa village from the 1920s to the 1950s. Located in nearby Cumberland, the enchanting Cumberland Heritage Village Museum has over 30 historic buildings, including a church, general store, schoolhouse and blacksmith shop—each authentically furnished and restored to reflect residents' lifestyles during this time period! Participate in interactive demonstrations like blacksmithing, sawmill and carpentry, as well as guided tours through exhibits that explain how people lived during that era. The museum also hosts special events throughout the year such as harvest festivals and Christmas celebrations full of picture-perfect moments.
Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum
Built during the height of the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s, the Diefenbunker was a secret underground facility designed to shelter government officials and military personnel in the event of a nuclear attack. Located in the Village of Carp, the bunker was named after then-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, who oversaw its construction. Since then, it has been converted into a museum that gives a glimpse into the political climate of the Cold War era. You can explore the underground tunnels and rooms which have been preserved as they were during their operational days. The museum offers a unique perspective on what it would be like if there was ever an actual nuclear attack by providing you with examples of what would happen if one occurred. It’s also home to the world’s largest escape room!
Fairfields Heritage House
An impressive 19th century Gothic Revival farm house, Fairfields Heritage House represents the homestead and community building legacy of the Bell family. Originally built on 660 acres of farm land purchased by William Bell in the 1820s, the present-day museum tells the story of almost 200 years of rich, local history and the people who so actively helped shape the evolution of the area, including the two final owners of the residence, the Hon. Richard (Dick) Bell P.C., Q.C., M.P., and his daughter, Supreme Court of Ontario Justice Judith Bell. Approximately two acres of beautiful green lawns surround the house and are an invitation to spend leisure time at the site. With a gazebo, gardens, and statuesque trees, the space is perfect for picnics, exploration and family-friendly activities.
Thirty minutes from downtown Ottawa, the Goulbourn Museum features exhibits that tell the story of the Gouldbourn Township. You can explore displays about the daily life of early settlers, the role of the agriculture industry in the area, and how war affected life in the Goulbourn Township. Along with permanent exhibits like the Great Fire of 1870 and the settlement of the soldiers of the 100th regiment of Foot, the museum also offers educational programs throughout the year.
The Nepean Museum tells the story of Nepean Township, from its First Nations origins to the turn of the 21st century, into the township it is today. You can explore exhibits that showcase the lives of early settlers, the role of agriculture in the community and the impact of significant events such as World War I and II on the region. Keep an eye on the special events page to learn about the educational programs and events that are hosted here throughout the year.
Osgoode Township Museum
The Osgoode Township Museum is a historical museum with a collection that includes a wide range of artifacts and documents to help visitors learn the story of early settlers, their way of life, and how the community developed over time. The museum also offers educational programs, workshops and events throughout the year!
Pinhey’s Point Historic Site
A 30-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, Pinhey's Point Historic Site features the historic home of Hamnett Kirkes Pinhey, who arrived in Canada in 1820 and built his estate overlooking the Ottawa River. Visitors can explore the Pinhey family home, which has been preserved as it was during their time there, as well as the surrounding gardens and outbuildings. The site also features exhibits that showcase the history of the region, including the role of the Pinhey family in the community and development of the area into a thriving agricultural region. It’s a picture- perfect setting for family picnics overlooking sailboats on the Ottawa River, with stunning views of the Gatineau Hills.
Learn about Vanier’s rich Franco-Ontario past, from its beginnings as a rural French village to its development into an urban area at the Vanier Museopark. This museum has many exhibits that explore life in Vanier as it was in the past. Tour these exhibits and learn about agriculture in the community and the cultural diversity found in Vanier today. You can also attend educational programs throughout the year, including workshops, lectures and community festivals. In addition to indoor exhibits, there are outdoor seasonal events to enjoy, from SugarFest in the spring to gardens in the summer.
Watson’s Mill and Dickinson House
Located in the charming nearby town of Manotick along the Rideau River, the historic Watson’s Mill and Dickinson House features a working grist and flour mill dating back to 1860. Tours of the mill demonstrate how grain was processed into flour, and visitors can explore Dickinson's House to see how wealthy mill owner, William Dickinson, lived in the late 19th century with his family. The mill is rumoured to be haunted by Watson’s wife, who passed in a tragic on-site accident. Exhibits showcase the rich history of the region, including the role of mills in Canadian history. Educational programs are offered throughout the year, as well as special seasonal events such as Christmas markets, yoga and makers markets.