Building on History: All Suites Whitney Manor

By Lexy Correa

Built in 1817 and reimagined for the 21st century, All Suites Whitney Manor combines timeless elegance with modern amenities and luxury. We spoke with owners Diana and Peter Smit as well as general manager Robert Elliott, whose team has been transforming the inn since 2017.

From repairing limestone walls to discovering horsehair in mortar, read on to discover the changes happening to this historic inn.

LC: Can you share a little backstory about the inn?

RE: Built in 1817 and originally known as Greystone Manor, the home was founded by Captain James Mackenzie, who was part of the Scottish Navy and came to Canada during the war of 1812.

After the war was over, Mackenzie was gifted a portion of the land that Whitney Manor now sits on, and wanted to build a home for his family, who were located in London, England. In fact, the stonemasons who created the house were men under his command during the war! The Manor was the only building around within hundreds of acres. When his wife arrived from overseas, she wasn’t a fan of her new rural surroundings (it was a big change from city life), and she consequently moved back to London. Sadly, Mackenzie passed away shortly after.

LC: Can you tell us about the biggest changes happening to the inn?

DS: My husband Peter and I took over ownership in 2017 and started our renovations with the garden and landscaping. We wanted to give visitors a peaceful retreat. All suites have access to an outdoor terrace – giving guests the luxury of not sharing an outdoor space.

Our first big project was the interior. In January 2019, we exposed and repaired a new limestone wall that leads up to the Penthouse, a suite at the top of the building with a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River.

As a self-catered accommodation, each suite acts as its own luxury apartment. Guests have a chance to relax and enjoy their stay in a setting that offers so much more than your typical hotel room.

Last month, we completed an entire rebuild of the arched window on the front side of the Chapel suite. We pulled down the entire wall, cleaned all the stones, and rebuilt it. We even found some of the original wood scaffolding that was part of the build in 1817!

LC: Did you uncover anything interesting during this process?

DS: When we repaired the interior wall leading up to the Penthouse Suite, the masons found mortar mixed with horse hair! It’s a real sign of the times of when the Manor was built and what the builders had access to. The mason shared that he’d only seen this once before in his entire career.

LC: What can visitors expect when they return to the inn?

RE: Our guests can expect the same level of care and commitment we’ve always had with the property. We have a unique mixture of modern amenities you can find at hotels combined with historic architecture. Built in 1817, this designated heritage building is one of the oldest limestone structures in the Kingston area.

Visitors can take advantage of our open spaces, new gardens, and landscaping. They get the chance to have a quiet getaway—without having to leave civilization. The Manor is located only a five-minute drive from the heart of downtown Kingston and nestled in a quiet, suburban neighbourhood alongside the St. Lawrence River.


We’ve also improved our bedding with new sleigh beds and mattresses and Nespresso machines in each suite.

Another unique aspect is our decor pieces. The owners have travelled around the world and brought back pieces from Uganda, Holland, and Egypt. It’s a great mix of local Canadian pieces and some from around the world.

LC: Can you discuss why visitors should consider staying at a historic inn?

DS: It’s such a unique experience – we’re over 200 years old. Each suite still maintains much of its original architecture and there is so much history behind it.

The Chapel Suite was once an actual chapel. Some of the historical records document baptisms and marriages. Our front entrance is over 8 feet high. The story is told when Captain James Mackenzie opened the house and brought his wife from the UK, he rode up the grand staircase on a horse up to the ballroom (now the Sopwell Suite) on the second floor!

LC: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your guests?

RE: We like to think of All Suites Whitney Manor as a luxury home away from home.  In all of our one and two-bedroom suites, you’ll find a fully-equipped kitchen, a spacious living and dining area, a private balcony or patio, in-suite laundry, and so much more. We want guests to feel like this is their space. We really take pride in offering them a chance to relax and unwind in what we feel is the most comfortable and spacious surroundings in the 1000 Islands.

You can book a stay with All Suites Whitney Manor online at their website!