Military Pressence in Early Kingston

1830-1865
Watercolour by George St. Vincent Whitmore in 1836 of the interior of Fort Henry. Source: Library and Archives Canada, Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana. Pinterest
Watercolour by George St. Vincent Whitmore in 1836 of the interior of Fort Henry. Source: Library and Archives Canada, Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana.

The 1830s and 1850s witnessed a burgeoning military presence in Kingston. Considerable naval construction had taken place during the War of 1812 but the Rush–Bagot Treaty (1817) limited naval armaments on the Great Lakes and the dockyard at Kingston was closed in 1834. The completion of the Rideau Canal in 1832 as a strategic route reinforced the strategic significance of Kingston. Fort Henry was constructed by 1836 and continued tension with the U.S. resulted in the construction of an “advanced battery” (1842) and four Martello Towers (1846-48): Murney; Market Shoal; Point Frederick; Cedar Island. The departure of garrison troops for the Crimean War (1854) were a portent of future developments. It was estimated that the 629 officers and men stationed in Kingston (1854-65) contributed some £100,000 a year to the economy and the departure of Imperial troops constituted a major loss. However, they had left a bequest of a major element in the city’s landscape and had initiated a presence that was to become a major element in the city’s economy and character a century later.