A guide to museums & historic sites in Kingston

By Visit Kingston

With more than 20 museums and historic sites, Kingston offers a variety of experiential learning opportunities. Here are a few to get you started.

History & Heritage

Bellevue House National Historic Site

35 Centre St. 

At the newly re-opened Bellevue House National Historic Site, experience history, engage, and reflect while you take in the complex story of Sir John A. Macdonald from various viewpoints. Take a self-guided tour or any of their three guided tours: Bellevue, in Brief; Keeping Up Appearances; and Unpacking Macdonald. For more information about Bellevue House tours, please visit their website.

Open: Thurs – Mon, 10 am – 5 pm

Fort Henry

Fort Henry National Historic Site

1 Fort Henry Dr.

Fort Henry was built from 1832 to 1837 to replace an existing fortification from the War of 1812 era. The site served as a military fortress during the War of 1812 and later as a barracks for British troops. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction that offers visitors a glimpse into Canada’s past. With its impressive limestone walls, military demonstrations, and scenic views of Lake Ontario, Fort Henry is a must-see destination for history buffs and families.

A museum for anyone interested in military history and families who will enjoy live demonstrations.

Open: daily, 10 am – 5 pm

Canada’s Penitentiary Museum

555 King St. West

Appropriately located in the former Warden’s residence across the street from the Kingston Pen, Canada’s Penitentiary Museum has many unexpected facts about Canada’s Corrections system. Expect to see confiscated weapons, officer regalia, and works of art created by inmates.

A museum for anyone interested in criminology, Canadian history, or just unusual places and experiences.

Open: daily 9 am – 4 pm (from early May to early November)

Frontenac County Schools Museum

414 Regent St., Barriefield Village

Perfect for students who want a true throwback to the past; experience educational life in the early 1900s through displays of school textbooks, artifacts, memorabilia and photographs. There’s even a schoolroom stocked with slates and wooden desks! See upcoming events and closures for class visits on the museum’s website.

A museum for those interested in the educational system, lifelong learners, or those who want to learn more about Kingston’s history.

Open: Tues– Sat, 10 am – 3:30 pm

Original Hockey Hall of Fame

Original Hockey Hall of Fame

1350 Gardiners Rd.

Fittingly located on the second floor of the INVISTA Centre, the Original Hockey Hall of Fame is filled with interesting facts and artifacts. The hall contains items like jerseys from Canadian hockey greats Wayne Gretzky, Rocket Richard, and Gordie Howe as well as Kingston-specific exhibits on hometown favourites like Doug Gilmour and Jayna Hefford. A museum for hockey fans and sports lovers.

Open: Thurs – Sun, noon – 6 pm

Queen’s University Archives

Kathleen Ryan Hall, 50A Arch St.

The Queen’s Archives holds collections of manuscripts, photographs, genealogical resources, and more. Registration is required for new researchers. A museum for researchers and anyone wanting to learn more about the history of Kingston.

Open: Mon – Fri, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Natural History

Miller Museum of Geology

Miller Museum of Geology

36 Union St.

This museum features a collection of the Earth’s rocks, minerals, and fossils (including a dinosaur exhibit with a fossil dig box), an overview of the geological history of the Kingston area, and exhibits about the oldest known animal fossils. You’ll love their newest exhibit featuring an Augmented Reality Sandbox display (perfect for kids who want to get their hands dirty!) Instructor-led educational programs presented in the Dr. Richard Milne Geo-science Education Classroom are available to pre-book for school groups, summer camp groups, and any other group of 10–30 people. Contact the museum by email at MillerMuseum@queensu.ca for more information.

A museum for geology lovers, mineral collectors, and those interested in the study of the Earth.

Open: Mon – Fri, 9 am – 4:30 pm

Maclachlan Woodworking Museum

MacLachlan Woodworking Museum

2993 Highway 2 E

Housed in an 1855 log cabin, this one-of-a-kind museum offers “hands-on history” with woodworking and other workshops for visitors of all ages. Visit their website at https://www.woodworkingmuseum.ca/events-programs for a complete list of activities and registration details.

A kid-friendly museum for creators who love hands-on experiences.

Open: Currently open only for scheduled workshops and events. See their website for registration details.

S.S. Keewatin

Great Lakes Museum & S.S. Keewatin

55 Ontario St.

Home to an artifact collection of over 4,000 objects and art, expect to find a broad range of instruments, tools, and equipment used by mariners and shipbuilders. There’s also a photo collection that includes images documenting ships and shipwrecks, the marine industry, shipping company advertising, and more. Small groups can also sign up for the Shipwrights game, a partnership between the museum and Improbable Escapes.

S.S. Keewatin is now open. Located at the Great Lakes Museum, this Titanic-era ship is a new attraction offering tours daily. The Passenger Experience, the Engine Room Experience, and the Combination Tour. On these tours, you’ll explore the decks, cabins, first-class accommodations, and the steamed powered engine of the historic Great Lakes steamship. Book ahead online.

A museum for marine lovers, sailors, and anyone interested in the story of Kingston and the Great Lakes.

Open: Mon – Sun, 10 am – 5 pm

Science & Technology

Military Communications & Electronics Museum

95 Craftsman Blvd

If you haven’t been to this museum, you’ll be surprised by how large it is. Explore displays that showcase military communications and the development and application of communications technology. One of the museum’s newest exhibitions, Below! Norad’s Underground Fortresses, highlights the engineering, computer technology, and operational history of the Cold War. The museum also offers two interactive games (in partnership with Improbable Escapes) that lead small groups through the exhibits in search of clues.

A museum for those interested in the Canadian military and communications technology.

Open: Mon – Fri, 10 am – 3:30 pm

Inside the Pumphouse Museum, an original steam powered waterworks from 1851


23 Ontario St.

Housed in one of Canada’s oldest waterworks, which provided running water to Kingston residents in the 1850s, this eye-catching museum offers a mix of old and new. Stunning old pumps and model train displays fill the space. The newest interactive exhibit, Soil Superheroes, features the importance of soil science and conservation (opening June 5). See upcoming special events and programming on their website.

A kid-friendly museum for anyone interested in science, engineering, and technology.

Open: Tues – Sat, 10 am – 5 pm

Museum of Health Care

32 George St.

Appropriately located in the Ann Baillie Building, a former residence for student nurses, the Museum of Health Care explores medical innovations in the 1800s, the influence of electricity in health care, and an inside look at the history of Kingston General Hospital. The museum has a number of exhibits and activities specifically for kids.

A museum for anyone interested in medicine.

Open: Wed – Fri, 10 am – 4 pm

To explore more museums in Kingston and area visit www.kingstonmuseums.ca.