The Smiths Falls Heritage House Museum
Heritage House Museum is the municipal museum for the Town of Smiths Falls, with Victorian period rooms, changing exhibitions, gift store and grounds. 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. Ironically, his home and mills were acquired by his 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 museum. Today the lifestyles of Joshua and Tamson Bates and Truman and Anabella Ward are depicted in the classically styled home where both families once lived. Heritage House Museum functions as a historic house depicting upper middle class life circa 1865-1875 and as a local museum featuring a permanent collection of Smiths Falls artifacts, traveling exhibits and art shows.