Meetings & Events

Murney Tower is now closed until the Victoria Day weekend 2020. See you then!
2019 Awards: See CKWS coverage here

View Outside Events of Interest


We meet at the Central Library, 130 Johnson Street. Refreshments will be available from 6.30 and the meeting starts at 7.00. The meetings include a brief business report and a guest speaker followed by a question period. Talks are usually illustrated and cover many aspects of regional history. Guests and visitors are always welcome.

The booking form for the Heritage Dinner is here.
The 2019 Reports of the Society’s activities are here. The Financial Statements for 2019 are here.

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. Your booking form is here.

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: “Sir John A. and the American Threat in the 1860s”.  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: “In Memory of Those Who Fell –A Legacy in Glass.”

This talk will be held in City Hall

Paul Robertson, the Curator of the City of Kingston’s heritage collection, will present a talk in Memorial Hall on the second floor of the City Hall.  Paul will discuss the magnificent stained glass windows that surround the hall. Financed by local citizens and produced by the world-famous Robert McCausland Glass Company of Toronto, the windows commemorate the battles of World War I in which Kingston men and woman played a role. Paul will highlight the artistry and symbolism embedded in each of these magnificent windows.

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)

Tuesday February 25, 7:30 p.m., Pittsburg Historical Society. A talk by Murray Hogben on Dr. Francis Wafer, a Kingstonian and Queen’s educated, who spent 2 years with the Union Army in 1862 and 63, including the Battle of Gettysburg. The meeting is held in Fire Hall 3, Gore Road. All are welcome. Click here for flyer.

Wednesday March 11, 7.00 p.m., Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at the Kingston Yacht Club presents Marc Seguin speaking on “The Cruise of the Breeze: Yachting on Lake Ontario with the Royal Artillery, 1863:

Tuesday March 24, 7.00 p.m. Frontenac Heritage Foundation presents Jennifer McKendry talking on her book “Architects Working in the Kingston Region in the 19th Century”. Full details are here

Wednesday March 25, 7.00 p.m., Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at the Kingston Yacht Club presents John Casselman speaking on “Water levels, Fish and fisheries“.

Wednesday April 8, 7.00 p.m. Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at the Kingston Yacht Club presents David More and Miranda Riley speaking on “Kingston’s Royal Naval Dockyard“.


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