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: Wed, Fri, & Sun, 10 am – 5 pm, Thursdays, 12 pm – 8 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

The Smiths Falls Heritage House Museum will be hosting our Market & Music Days throughout July & August 2019. These events will provide music, fun, games and activities for the whole family while also featuring local vendors and artisans! We are currently calling for musicians and vendors to apply to join our Market & Music Days! Please contact us at the Heritage House Museum if you would like more information.

Market & Music Days

July 6, 13, 20, 27 and August 3, 10, 17, 24

10:00 am to 2:00 pm

We ask that all Vendor Applicants and submit their application and payment by June 18th, 2019.

Market & Music Vendor Application Form


Programs & Events

Cemetary 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.

July 3 : 5:30 – 7:00 pm

July 14 : 2:30 – 4:00 pm

July 31 : 5:30 – 7:00 pm

August 11 : 2:30 – 4:00 pm

August 28 : 5:30 – 7:00 pm


Canada Day at the Heritage House Museum

Monday, July 1st : 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

On Canada’s Birthday the Smiths Falls Heritage House challenges you with the Great Canadian History Quiz! Drop by to explore the Bates family’s 1860’s home, enjoy scavenger hunts, Canadian and Smiths Falls trivia, photo booths, demonstrations, lawn games, stone oven beaver tails and celebrate with us!

Admission is by donation. Everyone is Welcome.

Go to Canada Day at the Heritage House Museum Facebook Page for more information.


Fact or Fiction – Trivia Tours

July 4, 11, 18, 25 : 6:00 – 8:00 pm

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.

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 8, 15, 22, 29 : 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