This article was originally published in the 2020 Spring issue of Invest In Style Magazine.
Billy Bishop, the most famous of hundreds of thousands of young Canadian men who served during the First World War, was a Victoria Cross recipient and Canada’s top flying ace of that war.
William Avery (Billy) Bishop Jr. was born in Owen Sound in 1894 and grew up in a comfortable home at 948 3rd Avenue West, built by his father in 1884. Bishop was fascinated with flying from his earliest years. As a boy, he made a flying machine from a crate and bedsheets, which he launched from the roof of the family home only to land in his mother’s rose bushes.
This home is now a museum and national historic site in Owen Sound.
Climb the steps of this beautiful, Victorian, red-brick home and step back in time to explore the lives of the Bishop family members and rediscover the man behind the legend. As well as their focus on Billy Bishop, the museum also serves to honour the wartime contributions of the many servicemen and women from Owen Sound and region.
Inside the museum you’ll see the antique desk Bishop worked at as Air Marshal during World War Two, and the uniform he wore at the time. There’s a bookcase with school books used by a young Billy and his sister, Louisa, a Royal Military College Yearbook with Billy’s picture and biography, and a share in the Bishop-Barker Aeroplane Company, the first (though short-lived) civil airline in Canada which Bishop founded with fellow Canadian ace, Billy Barker.
The Billy Bishop Home and Museum engages the community through a variety of seasonal programs and events. Highlights of the year include Billy’s Birthday celebrations on February 8th; Victorian teas where you can experience the elegance and refinement of social gatherings of the day; and a Victorian Christmas with all the nostalgic charm of a 19th-century yuletide celebration.
The Billy Bishop Home and Museum is one of Owen Sound’s most popular attractions. The museum will be temporarily closed for upgrades during March 2020. Major renovations to the front entryway, gift shop and dining room will make these spaces brighter. Check their website for re-opening dates.
The museum is OPEN by appointment only, Tuesday – Sunday, 12 to 4 pm.
Please call in advance as space is limited to 6 guests at a time with appointments at 12, 1, 2, and 2 pm.