Bellevue House

Just a short block north from Kingston’s Lake Ontario waterfront, at 35 Centre Street, and about 1.6 kilometers (a mile from) downtown Kingston, is Bellevue House, a National Historic Site of Canada.

For a time, this lovely home, built in the “Italianate Villa” style, housed Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.
Sir John A. Macdonald spoke of Bellevue House as “the most fantastic concern imaginable.” Other not so friendly names for this unique edifice were “Tea Caddy Castle”, “Molasses Hall”, and “Pekoe Pagoda.”

Bellevue House was originally built sometime in the early 1840s for a gentleman named Charles Hales, a Kingston businessman.


If you are in Kingston, it is worthwhile to spend a couple of hours enjoying what this unique home has to offer, including a glimpse into Canada’s formative past.

You normally start your tour at the visitor centre where you would enjoy an introductory presentation about the house and it’s historical inhabitants, and get a chance to examine artifacts from the house, and displays about it’s features.

You would then meander down the sidewalk to the main entrance, much as is shown in this short video below.


It is said that Sir John A. wrote about Bellevue House “…complete quiet and seclusion of the house, which is completely surrounded by trees and has a fresh breeze ever blowing on it from Lake Ontario…” that, he hoped, would bring about an improvement in his wife, who was quite sick at the time.



Bellevue House was away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Kingston, being a whole mile away.  It was on a big piece of property with lots of trees and views of the lake. There were neighbours nearby but every house had big gardens around it as did Bellevue House. The groundskeepers have done a lovely job in recreating the kitchen garden of the area, as the following short video displays.

┬áNowadays Bellevue House is still surrounded by trees, there are still nearby neighbours, but there is no view of Lake Ontario from the house, except, perhaps, from the tower. We could not check as the tower is not open for public access at this time. In September 1849, the Macdonald’s had to leave their cherished Bellevue House and move to smaller quarters in downtown Kingston, this a result of Sir John’s difficult personal financial situation at the time.


Bellevue House staff, in period costume, are on duty April through October with varying hours depending on the time of year. They will soon offer a shoulder season from Victoria Day to Canada Day and from Labour Day to Thanksgiving. During the shoulder season the house and grounds will be open 5 days a week rather than 7. It is always a good idea to check opening times and hours before you visit.

Bellevue House information:

Bellevue House National Historic Site of Canada

35 Centre Street, Kingston
Tel: 613-545-8666 (during normal business hours)
Website: Visit Parks Canada website & follow the links:

Comments about your visit to Bellevue House in Kingston are welcome.

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