Heritage House Museum

Address: 11 Old Slys Rd, Smiths Falls, Ontario, K7A 3M3

In the early 1850’s the lure of plenty of water power and the promise of railway development attracted Joshua Bates, founder of nearby Farmersville (now Athens), to a site beside the roaring waters of Old Sly’s Rapids on the Rideau Canal. Bates built two mills on property leased from the Crown and promoted the development of the Brockville and Ottawa Railway Company. After suffering considerable losses in his milling operations and investing heavily in the now bankrupt railway company, he began construction of his large frame house in 1861.

Despite his optimism for the future, fate did not allow Joshua Bates to recoup his fortune or to enjoy his new home. He died in debt on January 1st, 1864. His home and mills were acquired by his business competitor Truman R. Ward, eldest son of Abel Russell Ward, a founding father of Smiths Falls. After many years of neglect, the Corporation of the Town of Smiths Falls purchased the once dignified country estate from the Gleeson family in 1977 for use as a community museum.

Today Heritage House Museum functions as a community museum and historic house, depicting the upper middle class life of the Bates Family circa 1865-1875 and featuring a permanent collection of Smiths Falls artifacts, traveling exhibits and art shows. A visit offers unique mirror-image facades, an indoor brick bake oven, period rooms, exhibition galleries and a famous two-story privy.

The grounds are located on the picturesque Rideau Canal waterway at Old Sly’s Lock Station and offer the perfect backdrop for an afternoon picnic, nature respite or family gathering. Ask us about our great rates for group bookings, meetings, and weddings!

Family researchers should also note that the Lanark County Genealogical Resource Centre is located on site.  Library access is $5 per day or $20 per year and can be purchased at the Museum.

For more information on the Museum’s services, special events, or how you can donate, please contact us at 613-283-6311, heritagehouse@smithsfalls.ca or visit us at: Heritage House Museum Facebook Page .


2019 Hours of Operation

Appointments Welcome Year Round!

January 1 – April 30:  Available by Appointment and for Special Events.  Please note the Lanark County Genealogical Resource Centre is located at the Museum and is also available by appointment to research your family and/or property history.

May 1 – 31 : Weekends, 10 am – 5 pm

June 1 – Oct 31: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm

Nov 1 – Dec 1 : Weekends 10 am – 4 pm


Children’s Day Camps

This summer in July and August the Heritage House Museum will be facilitating Children’s Day Camps on “Themed” Tuesdays.
Participants will be able to explore a different theme each Tuesday through interactive activities, outreach, crafts and experiments.
These camps will run from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. With an option for early drop-off and late pick-up (needs to be indicated upon registration).
Cost: $25.00 per day or $150 for a full 7 day sign-up.

These day camps will run on the follow dates with a corresponding theme:
Tuesday, July 9 : The Wild West
Tuesday, July 16 : STEM activities with Let’s Talk Science Ottawa
Tuesday, July 23 : Fantastic Fairy Tales
Tuesday, July 30 : Medieval Madness with Special Guests
Tuesday, August 6 : Greek Greatness
Tuesday, August 13 : Survivor – Canoe paddling with Parks Canada, Rideau Canal, Mobile Interpretation & Paddle Team
Tuesday, August 20 : End of Summer Party!

Registration forms are at Heritage House Museum, the Heritage House Museum’s Facebook page (in the discussion part of the event page) and can be emailed upon request (heritagehouse@smithsfalls.ca)
Fill out the Registration Form.
Pay for the days that you are booking.
Registration is confirmed when payment is received in full.
Payments are required a week prior to the day of the camp.
Cancellations must be made a week prior to the start of the camp in order to be reimbursed.

Find the registration form below:

Registration Form Summer Day Camps 2019


Market & Music Days

Market & Music Days have come to an end for the 2019 summer season. 

We have enjoyed this event throughout July and we are looking forward to planning another fun season of Market Days next summer. 

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact us here at the Museum.

Thank you to all who participated in and enjoyed Market & Music Days this year!


Programs & Events

Cemetery Tours

Trained tour guides will lead visitors through the historic Smiths Falls Cemeteries, discovering superstitions, symbolism and cemetery design. Each cemetery also holds an amazing record of former residents with stories of missionaries, veterans, dignitaries and everyday people alike.

Pre-Registration is requested by calling 613-283-6311 or emailing heritagehouse@smithsfalls.ca

Tours are $10 per adult or $5 for those 12 and younger.

Saved by the Bell Cemetery Tours: (Sundays)


Fact or Fiction – Trivia Tours

Visit the Museum throughout July to experience a Fact or Fiction Trivia Tour!

Join us for some fun Fact or Fiction Trivia Tours throughout the Heritage House Museum. This tour will challenge your knowledge of Smiths Falls history and Museum content while teaching you about local facts and misconceptions. Test your Smiths Falls knowledge for a chance to win the ultimate Heritage House Gift Basket filled with lots of fun prizes!

Pre-Registration is requested by calling 613-283-6311 or emailing heritagehouse@smithsfalls.ca

Tours are $10 per adult and $5 for children 12 and under.

Go to Fact or Fiction – Trivia Tours Facebook Page for more information.


Murder Mystery & Ghost Walk Tours

August 7, 14, 21, 28 : 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Join us, if you dare, for a Murder Mystery and Ghost Walk Tour at the Heritage House Museum. This special tour will explore oral traditions and mysterious happenings of the Smiths Falls’ area and museum.

Pre-Registration is requested by calling 613-283-6311 or emailing heritagehouse@smithsfalls.ca

Tours are $10 per adult and $5 for children 12 and under.

Go to Murder Mystery & Ghost Walk Tours Facebook Page for more information.


Admission Rates

Adults $5.00, Senior/Student $4.50, Youth (6-18) $4.00, Group Rates Available for 10 or More.

Phone: 613-283-6311

Email: heritagehouse@smithsfalls.ca