Sunday, August 5, 2012

Harbor Defense of Kingston, Ontario


Visited 29 Jul 2012 - Harbor Defense of Kingston, Ontario - Kingston has a rich military history and a number of historic sites that include Fort Henry, Fort Frederick, Fort Frontenac and six Martello towers (Murney Tower, Shoal Tower, Fort Frederick Tower, East Branch Tower, West Branch Tower and Cathcart Tower). Only two of the towers are open to the general public.
Kingston-Wolf Island Ferry
Kingston-Wolfe Island Ferry


We travelled from our campground near Henderson Harbor, New York, to a ferry crossing between Cape Vincent and Wolfe Island, Ontario. That short ferry crossing cost $15 and didn't take all that long. You must then drive across Wolfe Island and catch another ferry (free) to Kingston. This ferry ride takes you past or near most of military sites at Kingston and offers great water side pictures of nearly all of them. The ferry actually lands right at Fort Frontenac. Don't forget your passport!
Murney Tower
Murney Tower


We chose to head out to Murney Tower first. Murney tower is a Martello tower that dates back to 1846-1848 as do all six of the Martello Towers in Kingston. Only two of the towers are open to the public. The Murney Tower is now a museum and a terrific example of a fully restored Martello Tower that includes a 32-pounder cannon on the upper gun level.
Shoal Tower from the Kingston Ferry
Shoal Tower from the Kingston Ferry






Shoal Tower was our next stop, it actually sits on a shoal in the harbor at the outer edge of the downtown marina and is not open to the public. It's close enough to get great pictures from the shore and the ferry.








Fort Henry Ditch, Sallyport and Demi-Bastion
Fort Henry Ditch, Sallyport and Demi-Bastion
We were anxious to see Fort Henry and the two towers associated with it so we headed there next. Fort Henry is deceptive as you come up on it because it is really a redoubt and has only two demi-bastions. It was meant to be just a part of a land side defense but ended up as the only part that was built. You really can't see much until you round the corner and see the ditch and sallyport and then it is awesome. 


Ramp Entrance to the Main Fort
Ramp Entrance to the Main Fort




You have to enter Fort Henry through another sallyport on the side that places you on a long parade connecting the main fort to the Advanced Battery. All of this is still outside the main fort and to enter the main fort you walk north down a long ramp into the fort. As you enter the main fort parade you see a wall of casemates but none of them have cannons inside, all the cannons are on the ramparts except for carronades that point down the ditch. 




Fort Henry Main Fort Interior Parade and Casemates
Fort Henry Main Fort Interior Parade and Casemates. Demonstration Cannons on the Parade.
Looking Toward the Advanced Battery


Lots of folks in costume and in character throughout the Fort Henry complex. Lots of period restorations and furnishings in many of the quarters and buildings. All kinds of events, activities and demonstrations taking place throughout the day. You can see the layout and the attractions on the official website here. Don't forget to explore the Advanced Battery at the far edge of the outside compound. You could easily spend a whole day at Fort Henry.
Fort Henry West Tower
Fort Henry West Tower




You can observe all six of the Martello Towers from Fort Henry including the two right on the fort, the West Branch Tower and the East Branch Tower. These two towers guarded the branches of the dry ditch that lead down to the water's edge. I never did figure out why the ditches went down to the water's edge. You can also see the Cathcart Tower on Cedar Island and get good pictures from Fort Henry.




Cartcart Tower on Cedar Island from Fort Henry
Cartcart Tower on Cedar Island from Fort Henry


Fort Henry is well run and well taken care of and could serve as a model for anyone wanting to build a world class attraction.




Fort Frederic Interior and Tower
Fort Frederic Interior and Tower
Royal Military College of Canada Campus
Royal Military College of Canada Campus


We doubled back to see Fort Frederick and the Fort Frederick Tower. Fort Frederick is at the tip of Frederick Point and the tower is in the middle of the fort. To get to Fort Frederick you need to go through the gate at the Royal Military College of Canada (Canada's West Point) and drive around to the tip of the point. 
Fort Frederick Tower, One of Three Cannons
Fort Frederick Tower, One of Three Cannons






The tower is the focal point of the fort and functions as the RMC Museum. This tower looks much the same as Murney Tower but has some significant differences, especially on the top gun level. Murney had only a single gun mounted on top while this tower has three guns mounted on pivots on the top platform. Both towers house museums but with different collections. The Fort Frederick museum has an exceptional collection of period arms that my pictures can't do justice to. The RMC itself is a great attraction and you can see much of it from just outside the fort. Don't miss the small redoubt on the backside of the fort.
Old French Fort Frontenac Bastion Ruins
Old French Fort Frontenac Bastion Ruins


Fort Frontenac is located in Kingston right at the ferry landing point and presents some challenges because the present compound is the home of the Canadian Land Force Command and Staff College and access is restricted. You can see and explore the northwest bastion remains of the old French fort across the street from the entrance to the current compound. There are more remains inside the compound but you may not get access to them. The guard was kind enough to give me a great handout on the fort. The sallyport entrance to the new compound also has a number of plaques and markers on the outside.
Kingston Information Center
Kingston Information Center


We spent a great day in Kingston and everything is so close together that we spent little time in transit. The town itself is a delight, much like Victoria in British Columbia. We departed about three in the afternoon and headed north toward Fort Wellington (more about that later) and then headed for the campground. A great day!

1 comment:

  1. As usual,dear, you did a great job on the blog.
    We did have a great day in spite of the heat.
    Kingston has many sights and very friendly. On our next visit will do more. Fort Henry very impressive.
    Amy

    ReplyDelete