Land Acknowledgement 

The Smiths Falls Heritage House Museum acknowledges the fact that Smiths Falls and the Museum are built on the land of the Algonquin Annishnaabe people and that as settlers of this area are here as uninvited guests on this land. The museum also recognizes that acknowledgement alone is not enough and that steps need to be taken towards challenging and unlearning the longstanding legacy of colonialism and racism across Canada.

About Us

In the early 1850’s the lure of water power being located alongside the Rideau Canal and the growing development of railroads attracted the founder of nearby Farmersville (no Athens, ON) to a site located beside Old Slys Rapids, in Smiths Falls ON. Bates would build two mills on the property leased from the Corwn 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 on his large frame house in 1861.

Despite his optimism for the future in Smiths Falls, Bates would be unable to recoup his fortune or to enjoy his new home. He died in debt on January 1st, 1864. Bates’ home and mills were acquired by his business competitor Truman R. Ward, eldest son of Abel Russell Ward, one of the founding father’s of Smiths Falls. After many years of neglect, the Corporation of the Town of Smiths Falls purchased the estate from the Gleeson family in 1977 to use as a community museum.

Today, the Smiths Falls Heritage House Museum serves as a community museum and historic house, depicting the upper middle class life of the Bates family, circa 1865-1875. The museum also features changing displays of Smiths Falls artifacts and history, travelling exhibits and art shows. The house also has a unique mirror-image facades, an indoor brick bake oven, period rooms, exhibition galleries and the museum’s famous two-storey privy.

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