Review: Canadian Agriculture Museum

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Quick Review

I have wanted to visit the Canadian Agriculture museum since I first learned about it in 1989.  But because the museum is not located in the center of town like the other national museums and I did not have a car on my first several visits to Ottawa, I always had to skip it. When I did have a car, other museums always seemed to grab my attention first.  I finally visited in 2012.  And I hope I don’t wait 23 years for my next visit.

This is a working farm that is open to the public.  Its primary collections are llve Canadian farm animals and plants, but the museum has special exhibitions that explore issues in farming.  When I visited, the special exhibitions included one on making honey and another on the evolution of tractors and similar farm machinery.

Strengths of this museum start with its locale: a farm. The museum is actually a working experimental farm.  So its exhibitions include presentations of Canadian breeds of farm animals, including horses, cows, pigs, lambs, and goats. Apparently, Ottawa is the only national capital with a working farm inside its borders.  The museum provides background information on them and explains why particular breeds are well suited for Canadian agriculture.

Other exhibitions provide a similarly rich background on their subjects.  For example, a permanent exhibition on tractors explained both the technology and economics of tractors, and showed many different types of tractors. For children who like to play with tractors, this exhibition provides opportunities to climb aboard.  An outdoor exhibition, Energy Park, shows how farmers create and conserve energy on their properties.  All outdoors, the exhibition sort of acts as a playground for children.

A  special exhibition on the making of honey explained in depth how hives work, how beekeepers harvest honey, and some of the technological developments that helped beekeepers increase their yield of honey.

Because of its subject matter, the museum attracts many children and the museum caters to them. The exhibitions are all kid friendly and demonstrations—like a demonstration of how to make blueberry muffins, actively engage children.

Weaknesses of the museum are that it focuses primarily on the animals and plants at hand, and only hints at the broader story of agriculture in Canada or of the unique lifestyle of farmers.  Some of the equipment and special exhibitions fill the gap in part, but only in passing as that is not their primary purpose. But because most of the Canadian population is urban, most of us lack rural literacy that this museum could help us build.

On a more petty basis, there was a small display of items for sale but there was no place to purchase them (at least not on the day I visited).

Insights gained include a better appreciation of the science involved in breeding animals and plants for the Canadian environment as well as the leading-edge work conducted by the Canadian agricultural industry.  And the museum solved a long-time mystery for me: how honey is made and harvested.

Fast Facts about the MuseumType of Museum: Industrial (agricultural)Highlights of the Permanent Collection: Collections of:

  • Pigs
  • Cows
  • Horses
  • Sheep
  • Lambs
  • Alpacas
  • Farm instruments and equipment (including tractors)

All exhibitions are kid-friendly

Notes about Special Exhibitions: They seem to change annually, in time for the summer season.

Special Amenities:

  • Open year round, except December 25.
  • Kid-friendly.
  • Many live demonstrations specifically geared towards younger children.

Admission Discounts: Three-day, three-museum pass with sister museums, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum at a special price.

Issues to Consider When Visiting:

  • Limited dining options on -site, although picnicking seems to be encouraged. The museum is about a 10- to 15-minute drive from other restaurants.
  • Although not in the heart of Ottawa with the rest of the national museums, the museum is an easy drive from them—about 10 to 15 minutes away.



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