From the ramparts, a commanding view from a defense so well engineered it anchored a young nation, and alive to experience today
Even to the earliest explorers who reached the eastern end of Lake Ontario, it was clear that the site of today’s Kingston was key to both trade and security of this vast region. Louis de Buade de Frontenac, a Governor of New France, mounted expeditions up the St. Lawrence in search of fur trade routes and resources. Discovering this strategic spot built Fort Frontenac in 1673 on the west banks of the Cataraqui River where it flowed into the lake. The British too recognized the strategic importance of this location, and the first Fort Henry was built on Point Henry, for the War of 1812 – 1814.
The version of Fort Henry of today dates from 1832. The new fort was far more massive than the original and was built to withstand an attack that, thankfully, never came.
A visit to this National Historic Site and UNESCO Rideau Canal World Heritage Site, is more than a trip in time. Operated by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, the fort comes alive with military enactments and special events. The Discovery Centre near the entrance interprets the life and times of the fort and, the views from the ramparts across the city and islands are stunning.
Amazing Places, Amazing People
Amazing Places deserve to be explored by Amazing People. We want to see and read all about your visit to Fort Henry. We’ll post your photos and stories here!
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Plan Your visit
Explore the amazing place with help from local businesses.
How to get to Fort Henry
Driving: Fort Henry is located about 1.5km east of downtown Kingston. Follow Highway 2 to Fort Henry Drive to get to the entrance.
Cycling: Take a quick detour off the Ontario Waterfront Trail to take in some history at Fort Henry! Use caution when cycling on Highway 2, as it can get fairly busy with car traffic.
Paddling: For an interesting day of paddling, Cedar Island boasts a spectacular view of Fort Henry and historic Kingston Harbour, best enjoyed in the early morning light or fading sunset. Click here for more information, including a 3.5km paddling route map from the Cataraqui Canoe Club to Cedar Island. The island is part of Thousand Islands National Park, and has campsites, docks, and washrooms. Cathcart Redoubt, a Martello tower and National Historic Site, is also on Cedar Island.
How to explore Fort Henry
1. Parking Lot
2. Discovery Centre and Gift Shop
3. Swing Bridge
4. West Gate Entrance/Exit
5. Garrison Store/Admissions
6., 7., 8. Fort Henry Trade square vendors
9. Advanced Battery Bistro
10. Soldiers Canteen
11. Dining Rooms
12. Public Washrooms
13. Rampway to Lower Fort (Requires admission ticket)
14. Water Well in Dry Ditch (Guided tours start from here)
15. Officers Guard Room
16. Garrison Cells
17. Men & Womens Privies
18. West Officers Quarters
19. Counterscarp Galleries
20. Soldiers Barrack Room
21. School Room
23. Soldiers Cookhouse
24. Museum Rooms (Balcony Level)
25. Public Washrooms
26. Powder Magazine
27. Goat Pen
28. Overnight Rooms
29. Ramparts (Roof)
30. Dry Ditch
31. East Gate
About the St. Lawrence Parks Commission
The St. Lawrence Parks Commission is an Ontario provincial agency established in 1955 to provide recreation, tourism, cultural and educational opportunities for residents of Ontario and visitors to the province through the presentation and interpretation of historical attractions and the development and operation of parks, campgrounds, scenic parkways and recreational areas.
The “Parks of the St. Lawrence” has become one of the largest tourism destinations in Eastern Ontario, extending 200 kms from Kingston to near the Quebec border. Their facilities include thousands of hectares of park land and attractions on the St. Lawrence Heritage Corridor that provide a major source of recreational opportunities for residents and visitors to the Eastern Ontario Gateway to Ontario.
Aside from Fort Henry, the “Parks of the St. Lawrence” attractions include Upper Canada Village, Queen Elizabeth Gardens, Crysler Park Marina, Upper Canada Golf Course, Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Long Sault Parkway and 1000 Islands Parkway, a series of 12 riverside day-use area parks and campgrounds, recreational trails and several restaurants and gift stores.