Kingston Dry Dock National Historic Site of Canada
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, David Henderson, 2008.
55 Ontario Street, Kingston, Ontario
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1890 to 1892
1890 to 1967
Event, Person, Organization:
Connolly and Co.
Kingston Dry Dock
Marine Museum of the Great Lakes
Existing plaque: 55 Ontario Street, Kingston, Ontario
Mississauga Point was for over 150 years the site of major shipyards when Kingston was one of the important ports and ship building centres on the Great Lakes. The significance of this industry led the federal government to construct this dry dock in 1890. Initially operated by the Department of Public Works as a repair facility for lake vessels, it was enlarged and leased in 1910 to the Kingston Shipbuilding Company, the first of a series of private concerns which operated the shipyard until 1968. During the Second World War naval vessels, notably corvettes, were built in the shipyard.
Description of Historic Place
Kingston Dry Dock National Historic Site of Canada is located on Mississauga Point, part of the Kingston waterfront on the St. Lawrence River. It now forms part of the Marine Museum complex. The Kingston Dry Dock was an important repair facility for ships and provided dry working access to the exterior of a vessel below the waterline. The long, rectangular-shaped dock has stepped sides that rise 9.1 metres from its bed. The original dry dock had an inner invert width of 16.8 metres and a floor length of 85.3 metres. Both the walls and bed of the dock are constructed of limestone. The dock was subsequently lengthened to 115.2 metres using concrete. The dock gate or floating caisson is seated in a rectangular berth set at right angles to the dry dock entrance. The caisson is built of steel in the shape of a rectangular box with parallel sides and inclined ends. Along each side of the caisson berth are heavy cast iron rollers placed at intervals, on which the caisson rests and travels when being moved. Steps at either side of the entrance provide access to the dock floor. Official recognition refers to the geographically definable location, which is circumscribed by boundaries.
The Kingston Dry Dock was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1978 because: the significance of shipbuilding on the Great Lakes led the federal government to construct this dry dock in 1890.
Mississauga Point was for over 150 years the site of major shipyards when Kingston was one of the important ports and ship building centres on the Great Lakes. The significance of the shipping industry led the federal government to construct this dry dock in 1890. Initially operated by the Department of Public Works as a repair facility for lake vessels, it was enlarged and leased in 1910 to the Kingston Shipbuilding Company; the first of a series of private companies, which operated the shipyards until 1968. During the Second World War naval vessels, notably corvettes, were built in this shipyard.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, and June 1978.
The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include: the location on Mississauga Point facing the St. Lawrence River, on the Kingston waterfront; the long, rectangular dock with 9.1 metres high stepped sides, the inner invert width of 16.8 metres, the floor length of 85.3 metres in smooth dressed limestone with a matching 29.9 metres extension in concrete resulting in an overall length of 115.2 metres, and the dock’s overall form, construction and finish; the steel caisson, or dock gate in the shape of a rectangular box with parallel sides, inclined ends and internal watertight compartments that allowed for vertical and lateral movement according the amount of water contained within, and the mechanism for moving the gate; the heavy cast iron rollers placed at intervals, each side of the caisson berth upon which the caisson rests, and on which it travels when moved; the 7.3 metres long rudder well in the floor of the dock at the lake end, and the steps at either side of the entrance that provide access to the dock floor, and the cast iron mooring parts; the stone pump house including evidence of original functional plan and remaining operating mechanisms including pumps, engines, and interior finishes associated with its operational period including the wooden panelling, wainscoting, and metal walkways; aspects of the pump house characteristic of industrial architecture of its time, such as solid limestone construction, regularly placed windows, prominent stone chimney, decorative cast iron posts, and the combined use of wood and iron structural features; the industrial nature of the two other buildings, their surviving materials, volumes, openings and finishes, and their proximity to the pump house and dry dock; the open area surrounding the dry dock and pump house previously used as working space; the integrity of any surviving offshore underwater archaeological remains; the viewscapes across the lake.