Description of Historic Place
Located on a peninsula at the mouth of the Cataraqui River in Kingston, Ontario, Point Frederick Buildings National Historic Site of Canada consists of a group of five masonry structures, Fort Frederick and the remnants of the navy yard’s stone wall. Four of the buildings and the fort were erected to support the activities of the Provincial Marine and the Royal Navy. One of the buildings, the Mackenzie Building, was purposely built for the Royal Military College. All of these structures are still in use by the college. Although altered somewhat over the years, these buildings are representative of the handsome but plain design, sturdy construction and fine craftsmanship that characterised the best of British military architecture. The official recognition refers to the five buildings, Fort Frederick, landscape features, and structures, in their existing spatial relationships.
Point Frederick Buildings was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1973 because:
- this peninsula, headquarters of the Provincial Marine (c.1790-1813), and of the Royal Navy (1813-1853), was the major British naval base on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812;
- of the continuing historical use of the complex forming the Royal Military College, including the Commandant`s House, Guard House complex (Guard House and Stone wall, and Gatehouse/Cottage), Stone Frigate, Fort Frederick and Mackenzie Building; and,
- the assemblage of architecturally significant structures in continuous use spanning various periods contribute to the historic ambiance of the site.
This peninsula, headquarters of the Provincial Marine (c. 1790-1813), and of the Royal Navy (1813-1853), was the major British naval base on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. Buildings surviving from this period include the Naval Hospital, the Guard House complex, and the Stone Frigate. On the southern part of the peninsula stands Fort Frederick, erected in 1812-13 but completely rebuilt in 1846. In 1875 the Point was chosen as the site of the Royal Military College of Canada which admitted its first class in June 1876.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, plaque text, November 1976; Commemorative Integrity Statement, October 1998.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- the location and relationship of the buildings to each other and to the site as a whole;
- the landscape, reflective of its military purpose, including the parade square, its low profile, depressions indicating the locations of former inlets, and the existing shoreline;
- the surviving circulation systems of the landscape, including the north-south corridor, and the convergence of roadways at the gatehouse, and the location of the gatehouse as point of entry to the site as a whole;
- viewscapes, from the stone wall gate into the former shipbuilding area; the view from the eastern shore of Point Frederick to Navy Bay, Point Henry and Lake Ontario; the view from the western shore across the Cataraqui River and Kingston Harbour to the Kingston waterfront, Shoal Tower, and Lake Ontario; the views from waters around the site; the views form Fort Henry to Point Frederick;
- the Stone Frigate, its qualities of British classical military architecture, created by its volume and massing, materials, regular disposition of openings, gable roof, functionality, and high quality of craftsmanship;
- the Guardhouse, its similar qualities of British military architecture, created by its volume and massing, materials, openings, good craftsmanship, its simple, cottage-like proportions, hip roof, portico, its site and setting as a gatehouse and relationship with the wall;
- the Porter’s Lodge, also known as Gatehouse/Cottage, its site and setting, its relationship with the neighbouring Guardhouse and stone wall, its volume, massing, materials and craftsmanship;
- the Stone Wall and Gateway, as defining features of the site, their original materials, alignment and form, their relationship with the other buildings and with the site;
- the naval surgeon’s quarters and dispensary, now Commandant`s House, its classic, British military design featuring solid materials and fine craftsmanship, the massing and volume of the building, its low-pitched hip roof, integrity of setting, symmetrical elevation and plan, original materials, such as mouldings, doors, newel posts fireplace mantels and built-in cupboards;
- the Mackenzie Building, its Second Empire design as seen in its symmetrical and richly detailed exterior elevation with columns, mansard roof, elaborate mouldings, central tower; its axial interior plan, rich original interior features including mouldings, fine materials, iron chandeliers, memorial stained glass windows, its key location on the site and its relationship with the other buildings;
- Fort Frederick, its surviving attributes of design, fabric and massing, its scale, location, and relationship with the site and with the other buildings on the property;
- any surface indications of archaeological remains, as well as any subsurface archaeological remains that may survive related to the reasons for designation;
- archival documents and objects that are part of the Royal Military College Museum located in the Fort Frederick Martello tower.