a peek inside the fishbowl

04 Jul, 2016

A visit to Pinhey’s Point Historic Site

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Ottawa|travel talk

So, let’s talk about Canada Day. Did yours get rained out, or did you persevere? Ours was a mix of the two.

Our youngest daughter went downtown with a friend: stayed for dinner, got soaked (twice), got lost (once) and caught the fireworks. The three remaining family members decided to do something completely different. We took a drive out to Pinhey’s Point. Have you ever been? This was something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS. It was high time to go check it out.

Sidebar: a good philosophy to have while exploring new places is to go in with zero expectations, knowing you can always turn around and leave. I find it really takes the pressure off, know what I mean? And with that, we got into the car, set our GPS, and went on our way.

I was not disappointed. Pinhey’s Point has a long and storied history, and it’s the kind of local lore that I really enjoy. To summarize: in 1820, Hamnett Kirkes Pinhey built up a significant estate on the banks of the Ottawa River that was granted to him for his service in the Napoleonic Wars. Today it is known as Pinhey’s Point Historic Site, but then it was known to the Pinhey family as Horaceville. (It was named after his eldest son.) The site now includes 88 acres of natural heritage space, the manor house, and several ruins. The last resident, a descendant of the original Pinhey, lived there until her death in 1971. (You can read more about it on the City of Ottawa website.)

It’s a fascinating look at how people used to live. This is a map of the grounds. It’ll give you a good idea of what’s on the site (click on the image to enlarge in a new window):

Map of Pinhey's Point Historic Site

And here are some views outside the estate:

View of Pinhey's Point

Old barn at Pinhey Point

Remains of a kitchen, Pinhey's Point

Remains of the original house, Pinhey's Point

The main house, Pinhey's Point

What would it have been like to live here 200 years ago? This place makes that a bit easier to imagine.

Here’s looking out from inside the main house. It’s a room with a view:

The view from the main house, Pinhey's Point

Pinhey’s Point is a real slice of history. Check out this bathtub:

Taking a bath was not quite as easy as it is today

… and this very early indoor privy. (!)

The Privy, Pinhey's Point

It’s a box! With hinges! :) I did lift the lid to see what was in there. (A risk, I know.) It’s essentially a hole with a lid. The, er, waste material goes down a pipe into the cellar. A helpful note explained this pipe was known to freeze in the winter.

The area is perfect for picnicking. There’s a big field, a few outdoor grills (the B.Y.O. charcoal kind), a playground for kids, and some extra W.C’s. The actual Point at Pinhey’s Point is off limits to visitors because it’s an ecologically sensitive area. You can, however, go down to the water, watch the boats and skip some stones, which is what we did:

The waterfront at Pinhey's Point

The drive itself was quite pretty too. We spotted an osprey nest and turkey vultures amid the rolling farmland.

On the way home we stopped at The Marshes for drinks and a snack. Did you know you can eat in the restaurant, even if you don’t golf and aren’t a member? We’ve had some great meals here and the patio is very pretty. A storm blew through while we were enjoying our nachos:

Nachos at the Marshes

A pint of Beau's, enjoyed on the patio at the Marshes

Anyway, there’s actually a lot more to the Pinhey’s Point than I’ve described here today: historical photos, period furnishing, family history, activities for kids etc. It was all very interesting and made for a great little day trip.

Seeing how people lived in very early Canada – before it was even called Canada – was a pretty good way to spend Canada Day. (Not to mention, topping it off with a Canadian brew.) I’m glad we went.

p.s. You can read more about Pinhey’s Point at the Pinhey’s Point Foundation website

4 Responses to "A visit to Pinhey’s Point Historic Site"

1 | Brenda

July 4th, 2016 at 5:01 pm


I brought my daughter and mother here last week for a picnic after having a tour of the Diefenbunker in Carp.
It was everything you described! Need another reason to check this place out? Geocaching! :)

2 | andrea tomkins

July 5th, 2016 at 12:18 pm


Geocaching! Great idea Brenda! I really should have remembered that we have the app! We could have tried it out… (Next time I suppose!)

4 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive So what did you do on Canada Day? - a peek inside the fishbowl

July 4th, 2017 at 7:57 am


[…] of the stormy weather, but rest of us were happy enough just to chill at home. (For the record, last year we checked out Pinhey’s Point Historic Site, which turned out to be a fun way to spend Canada […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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