Murney Tower
Murney Tower is a Martello tower
Martello tower
Martello towers are small defensive forts built in several countries of the British Empire during the 19th century, from the time of the Napoleonic Wars onwards....

 in Kingston
Kingston, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario is a Canadian city located in Eastern Ontario where the St. Lawrence River flows out of Lake Ontario. Originally a First Nations settlement called "Katarowki," , growing European exploration in the 17th Century made it an important trading post...

, Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, whose construction dates to 1846 and the Oregon crisis. Officially designated as Murray Tower, the locals called it Murney Tower, as it was built on Murney Point, which was owned by the Murney family at the time. They have since relocated to the Cobourg area. Eventually the name was changed to coincide with local usage.

Its builders intended that Murney (then Murray) Tower complement the fortifications of Fort Henry, Ontario
Fort Henry, Ontario
Fort Henry is located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada on Point Henry, a strategic point located near the mouth of the Cataraqui River where it flows into the St. Lawrence River, at the upper end of the Thousand Islands...

. Cathcart Tower
Cathcart Tower
Cathcart Tower is a Martello tower located on Cedar Island in the St. Lawrence River, off the eastern shore of Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. It is one of four such towers built in the 1840s to protect Kingston's harbour and the entrance to the Rideau Canal...

 on Cedar Island, Shoal Tower
Shoal Tower
Shoal Tower is a Martello tower located in the harbour of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, directly opposite Kingston City Hall. It is one of four such towers built in the 1840s to protect Kingston's harbour and the entrance to the Rideau Canal...

 in the Confederation Basin and Fort Frederick
Fort Frederick (Kingston)
Fort Frederick is a historic military building located on Point Frederick on the grounds of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Its construction dates to 1846 and the Oregon crisis. The fort consists of earthworks surrounding a Martello tower...

 on the grounds of the Royal Military College of Canada
Royal Military College of Canada
The Royal Military College of Canada, RMC, or RMCC , is the military academy of the Canadian Forces, and is a degree-granting university. RMC was established in 1876. RMC is the only federal institution in Canada with degree granting powers...

 were part of the same strategic improvements. The tower stands surrounded by a dry ditch and is accessible only by bridge. Murney's walls are about 3 metres thick on the land side and up to 5 metres thick on the lakeside. The main floor (ground level) was the barracks level and has two 32-lb caronade cannons pointed out shuttered windows. The lower floors were the magazine and storage and gun turrets to shoot at anyone inside the ditch. The top floor is the gun platform with one large cannon that can be rotated along an iron rail. A 'rapid removal' roof was later added to protect the gun and keep out the large amounts of snow that did not figure into the mediterranean design of the tower. This is a common feature on Canadian Martellos.

Martello towers were, however, already becoming obsolete by the time of construction and militarily worthless within 20 years; it never saw action. By the mid-to-late 19th century the tower was used as a familial barracks for an officer with many children. After the turn of the century, this was discontinued and for a time there were no definite plans for the tower. One of them included the idea of cutting the top off the tower and placing a large statue of Sir John A. MacDonald atop. In 1921 a windstorm blew off the original wooden roof and thus the current roof does not allow for rapid removal in case of attack.

Murney Tower is a National Historic Site of Canada, managed and maintained by the Kingston Historical Society, who operates it as a military museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

 during the summer months (May - End of August). Displays include cannons (32-lbs), uniforms, Lee Enfields, and other mid 19th century military artifacts.

Although 16 Martello towers were built in Canada, only 11 are still standing, four of them in Kingston. Two of these towers, Murney Tower and Fort Frederick are open to the public and contain museums. Fort Frederick houses the Royal Military College of Canada Museum
Royal Military College of Canada Museum
The Royal Military College of Canada Museum, established in 1962, is located in a Martello tower known as Fort Frederick on the campus of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, and is operated by the college. The Royal Military College of Canada Museum has regular hours from...


The tower is part of the Rideau Canal
Rideau Canal
The Rideau Canal , also known as the Rideau Waterway, connects the city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on the Ottawa River to the city of Kingston, Ontario on Lake Ontario. The canal was opened in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States and is still in use today, with most of its...

 and Kingston Fortifications World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...


External links

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