Martello Towers

Although Kingston Ontario is well renowned for her Martello Towers, and more information about them follows, we thought you might be interested in knowing that Martello Towers are not unique to Kingston.

After the British discovered how resistant to artillery assault these types of defence towers were, they built similar towers in other parts of the world, including Canada.

Between 1810 and 1847, eleven Martello towers were constructed in British North America. When Napoleon was threatening to invade Great Britain, Britain’s faith in the Martello tower design was exemplified by them building more than 100 Martello type towers along England’s southeast coast.

Carleton Martello-Tower Photo : Parks-Canada

The image above shows Parks Canada’s concept of the inside of the Carleton Martello Tower around 1812. This tower is located in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Given that the Martello Towers around the world were apparently all built from a single master plan, it’s reasonable to expect that the interior of all of the Martello Towers would be similar.

4 Martello Towers in Kingston

Kingston Ontario boasts four Martello Towers. They are Murney Tower, Shoal Tower, Cathcart Tower and Fort Frederick Tower.

Two of Kingston’s four Martello Towers are open to the public during the summer months – Murney Tower, and Fort Frederick Tower which is  located on the grounds of the Royal Military College.


The Murney Tower Museum (shown above) is open to the public daily from about mid-May until the first week of September, from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. There is a modest admission fee. Call (613)544-9925 during office hours for more information about visiting the Murney Martello Tower.

Murney Tower, shown in the photo above is located at King West and Barrie Streets, right on the shore of Lake Ontario.

All of Kingston’s towers are part of the Rideau Canal and Kingston Fortifications World Heritage Site – the 14th World Heritage Site in Canada and the only one in Ontario.


Shoal Tower - Martello Towers - www.incredible-kingston.comThe Shoal Tower (photo above) is located in the Confederation Basin, right across the street from Kingston’s City Hall.

The Fort Frederick and Cathcart Martello Towers are located on the grounds of Canada’s RMC (Royal Military College), just a couple of minutes across the LaSalle Causeway from downtown Kingston.

Visit Kingston Martello Towers for free?

Yes, there is a Martello Tower in Kingston that you can tour for free. Plan to visit Fort Frederick Martello Tower on the RMC grounds. Entrance to this excellent tower is absolutely free! The Frederick Martello Tower is both well preserved and lovingly restored, and is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily.

If the barrier to Kingston’s Royal Military College is down, ask the guard how to get to the Museum. Else, just follow the signs once you get onto the grounds. The RMC campus is located just east of downtown Kingston, across the LaSalle Causeway, and just beside the uphill road to Fort Henry. You can’t miss it.

2 thoughts on “Martello Towers”

    1. I suspect you are referring to The Shoal Tower which is located in the Confederation Basin, right across the street from Kingston’s City Hall. The towers would have been located to provide a broad range of protection from the water. The defense experts at the time selected this locale to help bolster Kingston’s defenses. While located near the water, the tower would have been accessible by land when built. As to whether the original tower was “in the water”, or the Lake water level has increased to flood the tower is not known.

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