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Shoal Tower National Historic Site of Canada

Kingston Harbour, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1930/05/16

General view of the Shoal Tower showing its squat, tubular massing under a conical roof and its symmetry, with circumference and height of equal proportion, 1982.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, F. Cattroll, 1982.
General view
Panoramic view of Shoal Tower and the harbor emphasizing the unobstructed viewplanes of the harbour and the entrance to the Rideau Canal from its siting on a shoal in the harbour, directly off-shore from the former Market Battery, 1982; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, F. Cattroll, 1982.
Panorama
Detail view of Shoal Tower entrance showing the defensive design evident in the high entrance, smooth walls, bomb-proof construction with thick stone walls at the base, the tin-clad roof and the fireproof nature of its materials, 1982.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, F. Cattroll, 1982
Detail

Other Name(s)

Shoal Tower National Historic Site of Canada
Shoal Tower
Tour-Shoal

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1846/01/01 to 1847/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/03/16

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Shoal Tower National Historic Site of Canada is a circular stone defensive tower located on a shoal in the harbour, directly offshore from the site of the historic City Hall and the site of the former Market Battery in Kingston Ontario. From this location, the Shoal Tower had a commanding field of fire over Kingston’s commercial harbour and the entrance to the Rideau Canal. Official recognition refers to the tower itself plus the submerged rubble and cribbing associated with the tower’s construction.

Heritage Value

Shoal Tower was designated a national historic site of Canada as one of five non-contiguous components of Kingston Fortifications National Historic of Canada for its association with:
- Kingston’s 19th-century defensive system and the town’s military and naval significance;
- British defence of colonial Canada in the 19th century, and;
- the Great Lakes-Rideau Canal inland water transportation system.

The heritage value of this site lies in its relationship with the other four components of the Kingston Fortifications National Historic Site of Canada as illustrative of a system of defence. Shoal Tower was built by the British government from 1846 to 1847 as one of four Martello towers and the Market Battery, in order to reinforce Kingston’s existing defence system in response to the anticipated American threat during the Oregon Crisis.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1989.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- the spatial relationship to the other components of Kingston’s historic fortification system, Fort Henry, Fort Frederick, Cathcart Martello Tower, and Murney Martello Tower;
- the unobstructed viewplanes of the harbour and the entrance to the Rideau Canal;
- the siting on a shoal in the harbour, directly off-shore from the former Market Battery;
- its squat, tubular massing under a conical roof;
- its symmetry, with circumference and height of equal proportion;
- the defensive design evident in the high entrance, smooth walls and sparse shuttered openings, bomb-proof construction with thick stone walls at the base, the tin-clad roof and the fireproof nature of its materials such as its stone walls and tin-clad roofing;
- its functional interior layout with central staircase giving access to the barrack quarters, the powder magazine and the food provision areas;
- the high level of engineering skill evident in the underwater construction with submerged rubble and cribbing supporting the tower.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1930/05/16

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Military and Defence

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Defence
Military Defence Installation

Architect / Designer

R.E. Bonnycastle

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

407

Status

Published

Related Places

General view

Kingston Harbour, Shoal Martello Tower

Rising dramatically from the water, Shoal Martello Tower sits offshore in Kingston Harbour. A single entrance doorway and small windows pierce the cylindrical stone tower. The…

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