Murney Tower is now closed until the Victoria Day weekend 2020. See you then!

KHS Meetings

Guests and visitors are always welcome.  The Seniors Centre is at 56 Francis Street, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The meetings include a brief business report and a guest speaker followed by a question period and refreshments. Talks are usually illustrated and cover many aspects of regional history. 

Download the Annual Report here

Wednesday November 20th: 7.30 at the Seniors Centre, John Grenville will talk on Fortifications Survey of Kingston: Britain’s response to the American Civil War

Wednesday December 4th: 6 for 6.30 at the Renaissance Centre, Queen Street, our Annual Awards night


Please note we will be returning to the Central Library for 2020, with meetings starting at 7.00.

Wednesday January 22nd: Dr. Terri-Lynn Brennan: “The Land and the Waters We Share.” Dr. Terri-Lynn Brennan is the founder and CEO of Inclusive Voices based on Wolfe Island in the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence, the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe. She is of Onkwehon:we and British descent and her family originates from Six Nations of the Grand River, Brantford, Ontario. Join her for a conversation on a map of Turtle Island  to learn more about the Indigenous history of the region and the joint responsibility of returning Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations to the original intentions of the Two Row Wampum and the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Covenants.

Wednesday February 19th: Annual General Meeting, with Bruce Cossar reviewing 70 years of “Historic Kingston”.

Saturday February 29th: Kingston Heritage Dinner at the Royal Military College. Dr. Laura Brandon: “Paint and Paper: The Group of Seven and the First World War.” The artists who first exhibited as the Group of Seven in 1920 notably worked as official artists, illustrators and designers during the First World War. The critical and popular success of the 1919 war art exhibition in London, England, combined with burgeoning notions of Canadian identity and their own experiences of war as soldiers, painters and commercial artists places the conflict at the centre of their post-war success.

Laura Brandon is a freelance writer, curator, and lecturer specializing in international and Canadian war art. From 1992 to 2015, she was the historian, Art & War at the Canadian War Museum. She has written and lectured internationally for nearly 40 years and curated more than 45 exhibitions. She is currently an Adjunct Research Professor in the School for Studies in Art and Culture and in the History Department at Carleton University. Her fifth book, a history of Canadian War Art, will be published by the Art Canada Institute in 2020. She was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2015.

Wednesday March 18th: Victoria Crosby: “Kingston Through Her Eyes: Harriet Dobbs Cartwright and Her Adopted Canadian Home.” Harriett Dobbs Cartwright emigrated from Dublin, Ireland to Upper Canada upon her marriage to Anglican minister Robert David Cartwright in 1832. Her voluminous correspondence chronicles her active engagement in the local affairs of her new ‘home’ in the colony of Upper Canada: as a wife, as a mother, and as a social activist. Cartwright played an incredibly important role in Kingston’s upper class community. She volunteered in the Female Benevolent Society and Orphans’ and Widows’ Friend Society, through which she contributed to the establishment of such major Kingston institutions as Kingston General Hospital, St. George’s Anglican Church, the Kingston Penitentiary, and Rockwood Asylum for the Insane. Harriett Dobbs Cartwright’s contributions to the community have had a lasting impact on the city of Kingston as we know it today.

Victoria Crosby is a third year doctoral student in the Queen’s History Department. Her research interests include nineteenth-century Canadian women, the British World and gender and sexuality studies. She is currently working on a biography of Harriett Dobbs Cartwright.

Wednesday April 15th: Heather Home and Janice McApine: “Community Archiving: the Kingston LGBTQ Archives as Collaborative Model.Community archiving is a documentation strategy aimed at working with a community to create archives; the objective being to have stories of the past told by those intimately involved in the activities, and resulting outcomes, of that lived experience. It is not about establishing a history; it is about revealing a history. The presenters will look at this type of community work in the creation of the Kingston LGBTQ collection at the Queen’s University Archives.

Heather Home is an archivist at Queen’s University specializing in cultural and social records; Janice McAlpine is a Kingston community member.

Wednesday May 20th: Marc Seguin: “The Lighthouses of Kingston: Guiding Ships Through the Graveyard of Lake Ontario, 1828 to 1914” Throughout the 19th century, Kingston was the most important shipping port on the Great Lakes and ships sailing to or from Lake Ontario had to navigate through some of the world’s most dangerous waters, an area that became known as “the graveyard of Lake Ontario.” Over the course of 85 years, more than 45 lighthouses were built on the Canadian side of eastern Lake Ontario. These aids to navigation contributed immeasurably to the prosperity of Kingston and to the economic development of Canada.

Marc Seguin brings his lifelong interest in history together with a passion for Canada’s built heritage to this talk on the early lighthouses of Kingston and eastern Lake Ontario. Marc holds a degree in history from the University of Western Ontario and is a founding member of the lighthouse preservation organization “Save Our Lighthouses.” He has authored two books focusing on Lake Ontario: For Want of a Lighthouse: Guiding Ships Through the Graveyard of Lake Ontario & The Cruise of The Breeze: The Journal and Life of a Victorian Soldier in Canada. Marc lives on the shores of Wellers Bay in Prince Edward County with his wife and two sons

Thursday, June 6th at 1:30 pm : The Kingston Historical Society hosts a Commemoration Service for Sir John A. Macdonald at his grave in the Cataraqui Cemetery National Historic Site on the June 6th, every year. Information: Alan MacLachlan, Commemoration Service Chair. (613) 549-8841 or (613) 453-7078 (cell).  Email:

Wednesday, September 16: Tabitha Renaud: “Without Words: The Communication Barrier between Indigenous Peoples and the Earliest European Explorers in North America.” For hundreds of years historians have glossed over how First Peoples and the earliest European explorers communicated with one another during their first meetings. How did they convey information back and forth? How effectively was this process? This talk returns to famous episodes of “first encounter” to closely examine how people communicated, how it changes traditional interpretations and why it ammeters today.

Tabitha Renaud completed her PhD in history at Queen’s University under the supervision of Dr. Jane Errington and specialized in studying early encounters between Indigenous peoples and European explorers in the Americas. Tabitha serves as the chair of the Murney Tower Museum Committee and a Councillor of the Kingston Historical Society.  She has also volunteered with the Kingston Association of Museums, Galleries and Historic Sites (KAM), Kingston Regional Heritage Fair, Beyond Classrooms Kingston, Smiths Falls Heritage house Museum Advisory Board and the Lower Burial Ground Restoration Society.

Wednesday, October 21st Paul Robertson: “The Object Speaks: Unlocking the Stories of the City of Kingston’s Civic Collection.”

This talk will be held in City Hall

The talk will explore the wonders and vagaries of the City of Kingston’s civic collection of artifacts, artworks, archaeological specimens and archival resources. Locked within an object can be a unique narrative. Museums use material history to unlock the past to tell stories about the place, our community and ourselves. This talk will draw parallels with the City of Kingston’s 2020 season exhibition at the Pump House Museum featuring a wide range of items drawn from the Civic Collection.

Paul Robertson became the City of Kingston’s first City Curator in 2011. He holds a BA degree in journalism and an MA in Canadian history. Working as material history specialist and social historian for 30 years, he has curated collections, created exhibitions and published in print and on the web. He learned his trade working in federal institutions such as the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa and at the Museum of Health Care here in Kingston. In 2019, he assumed the presidency of the Ontario Museum Association.

Wednesday, November 18th Dr. Erika Behrisch Elce: “Writing the Franklin Expedition: History, Fiction, and Lady Franklin”

In the 1850s, the search for the lost Franklin Expedition was considered England’s “Modern Odyssey,” and Lady Franklin nothing less than the “Penelope of England.” Today, she is still often portrayed as a symbol, but now also as a conniving strategist whose own ambition propelled her husband to his tragic end. This presentation considers the life of one of the Victorian period’s most compelling women in a new light: not as Penelope or conniver, but as a master of narrative. Moving between history, biography, and fiction, Erika Behrisch Elce explores how Lady Franklin’s character continues to fascinate, rile, and inspire as much as the lost Franklin Expedition itself.

Outside Events of historical interest (open to the public)

Saturday October 19th, Ontario Ancestors Kingston Branch at the Seniors Centre presents Anne Levac discussing The Tweedsmuir History Books, what they are, and what we can learn from them. For more info: A 9:30 demonstration of a few image scanners and a short business meeting will precede Anne Levac’s talk.

Saturday October 19th at the Memorial Centre Grounds, York Street, 2 p.m. The Kingston Red Barons will claim an oak tree  and will unveil a plaque to celebrate the team’s inception in 1969. The public is invited and girls and ladies who wear their hockey sweaters will be recognized in the celebration. Kingston City Councillor Bridget Doherty will preside at the event. More information 613-572-0603

Sunday October 20th, 1:30pm at the United Church Hall, Wolfe Island, The Wolfe Island Historical Society will present Lorne Keyes talking on  Wolfe Island Heritage. Light refreshments to follow.

Saturday October 26th, the Frontenac Heritage Foundation has organized a visit to Barriefield, the first heritage district in the province.  Meet at 1:30 p.m. at the Schools Museum at 515 Regent Street, for a tour by Faye Batchelor, and this will be followed by a walking tour (about an hour) led by the President of the Barriefield Village Association, Christine Sypnowich. There are only 24 spaces available so please reserve your spot by emailing us here or by calling Penny Sharman, our Executive Director at 613-766-2599. 

Tuesday October 29th, at Fire Hall 3, Gore Rd. at Hwy 15, 7:30 p.m.  Pittsburgh Historical Society will host John Grenville speaking on
Rooney Castle and the War of 1812 Defence of the Western Approaches to Kingston

Wednesday October 30th, 7.00 at the Kingston Yacht Club, Maurice Smith and Andy Soper will talk on The Magnificent Work of Nicholas Henderson and Our Glorious Age of Sail

Tuesday November 19th, at the Renaissance Event Venue at 285 Queen Street the Frontenac Heritage Foundation will hold its annual awards ceremony. Details to follow.

Tuesday December 10th, at the RCHA Club, 7.30 pm, the Frontenac Heritage Foundation is planning a holiday social for all our members, to reminisce about another wonderful year!