This small limestone cottage, built in 1858, was owned by the McCrae family from 1870 to 1873. Other families occupied the house until 1966, when a group of Guelph citizens purchased the building with the intention of preserving it as a museum. This group formed the Lt. Col. John McCrae Birthplace Society and began to raise money for its restoration.
The federal government through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board designated both John McCrae as a person of national significance, and the house as a place of national significance. McCrae House is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. The operation of the museum was transferred to the City of Guelph in 1983 and, along with Guelph Civic Museum, was merged under the name Guelph Museums. The Guelph Civic Museum (c. 1847) is was also designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
McCrae House contains both permanent and temporary exhibition space that interprets the life and times of John McCrae. Yearly themes are offered. Summer activities include Poppy Push, Canada Day, Teddy Bear Picnic, History Camp and special teas in the garden. The gardening volunteers have worked to create an award-winning garden reflecting the time period of the mid-to-late 19th century.