McDougall Cottage Historic Site


This welcoming 1858 granite and limestone cottage was built overlooking the beauty of the Grand River. Nearly 165 years after being built, the charming cottage is an active hub for community events, with tours, special events, workshops, and more. Interact with engaging exhibits, and peer out the window at the ever-evolving neighbourhood of the downtown Cambridge historic factory district.

McDougall Cottage recognizes the complex colonial history and will be working to engage in the inclusion of Indigenous narratives and stories through partnerships.

The Cottage itself is a wonderful tribute to the Scottish stonemason's art. However, the architectural jewels in the crown of McDougall are its hand-painted friezes and trompe l'oeil ceilings, executed some 40 years after the house was constructed.

Painted Friezes and Ceilings
Region of Waterloo Museums staff have uncovered additional wall paintings (century old hidden murals) at McDougall Cottage dating back over 100 years.

The most intriguing architectural feature of McDougall Cottage is its trompe l’oeil (French – to deceive or trick the eye) ceiling friezes, painted circa 1906-1907 by Jack Baird, brother of the Cottage’s second owner James Baird. This type of hand-painted room decoration was most frequently encountered in the homes of well-to-do families, but in this instance may have been a creative solution in place of wallpaper, which was more expensive than paint and canvas at the time.

Currents of Change
On exhibit now!
Through a blend of history, ecology, and Indigenous and settler narratives, this captivating exhibit examines the profound and dynamic connection between the Grand River, Cambridge’s heritage, and our collective future.

  • Wheelchair Accessible : Yes

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