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. 

2019
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

2020

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

Saturday, 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. This year’s speaker will be Dr. Tim Cook. Information: Alan MacLachlan, Commemoration Service Chair. (613) 549-8841 or (613) 453-7078 (cell).  Email:  alaguide20@gmail.co

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 November 16th, the Kingston Branch of Ontario Ancestors (the Ontario Genealogical Society), at 9.30 in the Seniors Centre, presents Peter Gower discussing Researching Military Ancestors.

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.

Thursday November 21st, in Memorial Hall, City Hall, Kingston, at noon, the Heritage Resource Centre presents “We Naturally Got Hostile: Voices from the 1932 Riot at Kingston Penitentiary”. Cameron Willis from Canada’s Penitentiary Museum will explore the riot at Kingston Penitentiary in October 1932, drawing from previously untapped archival materials, including interviews, letters and manifestos, to focus on what the prisoners themselves thought about their incarceration and the causes of the riot. By exploring the complaints, criticisms, fears, hopes, dreams, and frustrations of the imprisoned, the talk will restore their demands and goals to a central place in understanding this watershed event in Canadian history. This is a free event. Light refreshments will be provided. Those interested in attending are invited to RSVP at https://1932voices.eventbrite.ca or respond to this email, and please share it with anyone you think might be interested in attending.

Saturday, November 23, 1:00 pm at St. Paul’s Anglican Church Hall, 137 Queen Street. Kingston United Empire Loyalists present UELAC Honorary Fellow Nathan Tidridge, published author and historian, will talk on “Exploring Kinship Through Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal.” These very special chapels were established by Queen Anne among Indigenous Loyalist settlements.

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!