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 – August 31: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm

September 1 – Oct 31: Wednesday, Friday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm. Thursday, 12 pm – 8 pm.

Nov 1 – Dec 1 : Weekends 10 am – 4 pm


Smiths Falls 38th Annual Art Show & Sale

November 3 to December 15

The Smiths Falls Heritage House welcomes you to the 38th Annual Art Show celebrating 25+ local artists and artisans. Whether your personal taste leans towards landscapes, still life studies, impressionism or sculpture, you will be surprised and pleased by the wide variety of works available. Come find the perfect gift for family, friends or yourself! 

Please note: Admission to the art show is free but donations to the museum are always appreciated. General admission rates still apply to tour the rest of the museum (Adults: $5, Seniors $4.50, Youth 4-12 $4.00, Under 6 FREE).

For details contact us: 613-283-6311, heritagehouse@smithsfalls.ca.

For more information and updates, please visit our Facebook Event Page @ Smiths Falls 38th Annual Art Show & Sale


Victorian Christmas Tea

December 1 : 1:00 to 3:00 pm

Share in the sights, sounds and flavours of an 1860s Christmas. Gather around a traditionally decorated tree in the parlour and enjoy a cup of tea or hot apple cider with a homemade seasonal treat, made specially by the Museum’s elves.

Guests who are looking for a little more history on Christmas traditions are welcome to wander through the period rooms of the house with a tour guide at 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm discovering the origins of holiday rituals from the first Christmas cards and holiday music, to decorations and food.

Fresh gingerbread cookies and samples will be baking in our brick bake oven. For our younger visitors there are a variety of crafts, games and activities throughout the afternoon. Come visit the craft corner or search the Museum to help Santa find his elves! Faces young and old will surely brighten up as Santa Claus makes a special appearance, before he returns to the North Pole to pack his sleigh for Christmas Eve. Don’t forget to ask Santa for a photograph by the old fireplace in the parlour.

During their visit, guests will also experience the original artwork that is on display as part of the 38th Annual Art Show. Several of the local exhibiting artists will be on hand to discuss their pieces. Many works on display are for sale and would make an excellent holiday gift idea for family and friends.

Last but not least, the Museum gift shop will offer holiday sales, samples, and draws. Pick up that perfect artisan craft, ornament, jewelry or local history book. Admission is by $5 (free for youth under 12) and everyone is welcome!

The Heritage House Museum will be fully decorated for the season, December 1st – December 20th and is open Thursday-Friday 10 am – 4 pm, and Weekends 12 pm to 4 pm at 11 Old Slys Road, in Smiths Falls. For more information on the museum or to book your holiday tour, please call: 613-283-6311 or by e-mail at heritagehouse@smithsfalls.ca.

$5 per adult
Free for Youth (12 and under)

For more information and updates, please visit our Facebook Event Page @ Victorian Christmas Tea


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