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Backhouse Historic Site

1267 Second Concession Road, Port Rowan, ON N0E 1M0
519-586-2201 | 1-877-990-9932

At the Backhouse Historic Site, guided tours, hands-on activities, period demonstrations and special events bring history to life.

The property was home to the Backhouse family from the 1790s to 1956, when the property was purchased by Big Creek Conservation Authority. The Backhouse Mill was built in 1798 to grind grain into flour for the local community. This mill is one of the few mills in Norfolk County to survive the War of 1812 and continue production throughout the crucial years of rebuilding after the war. The Backhouse family operated the mill until 1956 when the property was purchased by the Conservation Authority. In 1998, the Backhouse Mill was designated a National Historic Site as one of Canada’s oldest and most well-preserved examples of the small-scale, water-powered establishments found throughout much of the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Visit the mill to see how stone-ground flour was produced throughout the mill’s operating years.

Visitors to the Backhouse Historic Site will also discover the 1952 Backus family Homestead, a provincial historic site, along with a collection of historic buildings including a rare octagonal schoolhouse, log cabins, barns, and carriage and blacksmith shops. Try your hand at historic activities as you discover life before modern conveniences.


The Backhouse Historic Site is open Victoria Day Weekend to Labour Day Weekend, Wednesday to Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.*

Explore the Site

Accessibility and Parking

Backhouse Historic Site is partially accessible. Paths between buildings are gravel and may be uneven. Due to the historic nature of the buildings, only the ground floors are accessible.

There is ample parking at Backus Heritage Conservation Area. There are parking areas at the Conservation Education Centre, Backhouse Mill, and Backhouse Historic Site for visitors who choose not to walk between the sites.

Norfolk Fibre Arts Guild

The Norfolk Fibre Arts Guild meets regularly at Backus Heritage Conservation Area to explore all areas of fibre arts. Meeting in the Historic Site’s Weaving Shoppe, the Guild felts and dyes fibre, spins yarn and weaves towels and shawls.  Also among the Guild are talented rug hookers and skilled knitters.  Members share their knowledge, expertise and encouragement willingly, welcoming those interested in learning the crafts of the fibre arts. Children have the opportunity to make a headband on a straw loom or dye some wool using food colour. The Guild meets on Wednesdays from  10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Weaving Shoppe.  For more information contact Julia Wever at 519-875-2541 or Janet Taylor at 519-586-9070.