|Billings House (1828/9)|
|matching rear facade overlooking the edge|
Here's an example. A trifle embarrassing one.
In 1975 I entered Carleton University, a green farm kid wide open to new experiences. (Some things don't change; you figure out which.) Tired of residence cafeteria food, my Renfrew House pals and I would often hike over the Bank Street bridge to Billings Bridge Plaza, to Harvey's, for real food. (Okay, so my taste in food has changed.) Oblivious to all but hot peppers and dill pickles, giggles and girl talk, I spent hours within paces of an incredible site, the Billings Estate.
Years later, I learned about our close call, but although I have known about the Billings Estate for years, but our recent week based in the area provided the first opportunity to explore.
I won't go on about all the features. Here's the listing on the national register of Historic Places.
Suffice to say that despite the occasional drizzle, the somewhat needy condition of the house, and the fact that the museum was closed so we didn't get to hear its whole story, the property was well and truly explored. The house is built on a ridge above the Rideau River, and eight treed acres have been (miraculously) protected from development in this suburban area, including a forest walk to a pioneer cemetery.
The Billings family settled here in 1812, and were instrumental in most aspects of the early growth of the community. A remarkable story.
Like a few early homes (Young house in Carrying Place, McPherson house in Napanee) the Billings home features identical front and rear facades. The rear garden was a delight.
The Billings Estate National Historic Site offers a dizzying list of special events, here's a link.