I was scanning through the great selection of tours included in this year’s Jane’s Walk program when one in particular caught my eye: A bike tour of the Billings Estate National Historic Site. I decided to check it out. The wet weather forecast must have discouraged others from attending, which resulted in a small entourage of four including our guide Britta, who shared an enthusiasm and passion for local history that made the continuous rainfall barely noticeable. She is an employee at the museum and helped put this bike tour together, which will be given again throughout the summer. Call the museum to confirm if you are interested. You may even be able to request a group tour.
Billings Estate Museum is bike keen! Not only did they organize this outing, check out this wooden bike in their collection. It was hand built by a 17 year old farm boy named James Henry Blair back in 1898.
The story of the Billings Bridge Community follows the gradual dividing up of the homestead originally settled by Braddish Billings and his wife Larima way back in 1813, thirteen years before the establishment of Bytown. The tour visits a number of locations and houses spread throughout the community, starting from the Billings House which is presently a museum. There isn’t a self guided program specifically for this tour, but there is a booklet sold at the museum for a few dollars titled Historic Homes and Buildings of the Billings Bridge Community that share a number of the stops, which I’ve identified on the following tour map. There were a number of other interpretive stops along the way not identified on the map.