Kingston is a small city, located on the north shore of Lake Ontario between Montreal and Toronto, in the province of Ontario. This city was settled in 1673 as Fort Frontenac. These days it is a popular destination in Canada thanks to its abundance of history, beautiful old buildings and 19th century fortifications, as well as its great nightlife and restaurant scene. Kingston is also renowned for its excellent museums and art galleries.
This city is known as “Canada’s Museum Capital” and it offers over 22 museums and historic sites along with 3 art galleries. These museums offer everything from national historic treasures to small curiosities. If you love learning about history and culture, here are a few of the best museums in Kingston, Ontario you won’t want to miss.
The MacLachlan Woodworking Museum
With over 5,000 square feet of beautiful exhibition space, the Woodworking Museum will inform you all about the fascinating history of woodworking and also offers beautiful grounds to enjoy. There is a picnic area with barbeque facilities, a playground with a covered gazebo and over 100 acres of park to explore. Its exhibitions are housed within an old-fashioned log cabin, which is quite beautiful in itself.
The Pump House Steam Museum
This excellent museum is located on the city waterfront in the building that used to be the Kingston water-pumping station. The Pump House Steam Museum first opened in 1973, which was more than two decades after it ceased functioning as a water-pumping operation.
The building was restored extensively by the Frontenac Society of Model Engineers and the museum was a gift to the City of Kingston. Taking a visit to this fascinating historical museum allows you to see how the pump hose would have looked many years ago and learn about the history of the building and its machinery.
The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston
At this museum you can learn all about ships and shipbuilding and how they had an impact on history and technology at this museum. One of the most impressive exhibits is the 3,000-metric-ton icebreaker ship, the Alexander Henry, which has been converted into a bed and breakfast where you can stay overnight in a real ship’s cabin. The museum is open all year and is a great place to visit with the family on a trip to Kingston.
The Agnes Etherington Art Centre
This superb art center was built for the students and staff of Queen’s University, but it also open to the public and has a superb collection of sculpture, painting and other works of art. It is named after Agnes Etherington, who was a driving force in the formation of the Kingston Art and Music Club.
In her final years she drew up plans to bequeath her home, a beautiful Neo-Georgian mansion, to the Queen’s University to be used as a community art gallery. The gallery showcases several exhibition spaces and hosts artist’s talks, performances, symposia, public lectures, workshops and much more.
Kingston Archeological Centre
Southern Ontario has plenty of rich and fascinating archeological finds, telling us stories of the people who used to live on this land. This excellent museum was founded by the Cataraqui Archeological Research Foundation and it concentrates on the development and history of Southern Ontario over the last 8,000 years. It includes many interesting items that paint a picture of days gone by, from maps to excavated artifacts to illustrations. The museum also offers guided tours.
The International Hockey Museum
What could be more Canadian than hockey? This great museum is a wonderful storehouse of Canadian hockey history that will reveal fascinating stories about the history of the country’s favourite winter sport. The museum includes displays of sweaters of famous players, rare equipment and photographs.
The International Hockey Museum is open from mid-June until Labor Day but can be visited at other times on appointment.
As you can see, there are many museums to choose from in Kingston and this list just barely scratches the surface. Kingston is a museum-lover’s paradise and a makes for a getaway that is rich in culture and history.
About the Author: Robert Marsden is a freelance writer and travel blogger who writes about Canada’s best destinations. He booked Kingston hotels online when visiting these great museums.