It's Thursday 9:14 AMSorry, we're closed. See our hours and visit us when we're open again!

Shipwrights by Improbable Escapes

Shipwrights by Improbable Escapes​An immersive ‘escape room’ experience with nautical-themed puzzles and challenges. Suitable for groups of 2-6 people.

Special Events

There’s always something new on the horizon. Discover our upcoming events, spread the word, and mark your calendar.

Children &
Youth (Age 5-13)

Programs to ignite curiosity and provide opportunity for exploration! Delivered virtually or in-person, these group programs can be adapted for ages 5-13.


The Nautical Nights Speaker Series, in partnership with Kingston Yacht Club (KYC), has become an annual tradition at the Great Lakes Museum.


Life-long learning is a journey of continuous growth and development, enriching our lives with new knowledge and perspectives. Immerse yourself in the history of the Great Lakes!

About the

Archives and artefacts. A library collection covering all aspects of Canadian shipping and marine heritage. Photographs, shipping company collections and shipbuilding and design collections.

Ship Lists

A selection of unique registers of ships and individuals that were compiled to facilitate the research process.

Ways of Giving

Donate your time. Donate your money. Become a member. Leave a gift in your will. There are many ways to support the museum and we appreciate your interest in supporting the Great Lakes Museum!

The Story of the Great Lakes Museum

‘Know the Ropes’ – Museum News & Stories

Explore the rich maritime history of the Great Lakes, read the stories of our artefacts, find out interesting information to share at your next party! Know the Ropes shares a mix of museum news and interesting stories.

A Tribute to our Volunteers

December 18, 2021

We’ve come a long way since re-acquiring our property at 55 Ontario Street in August 2019 and our volunteers all have a right to be proud of what they have achieved, both inside and out, over the ensuing years. Our long-time stalwarts – Dave Shurtleff, Peter Ashley and Judy Gay – immediately re-engaged, spending countless hours in the engine/pump room refurbishing the priceless machinery which had been submerged due to the former landlord’s negligence. They also spent considerable time applying primer to various rooms.

In the Fall of 2020, our Board member Ron Kowalczyk, engaged nearly full time in coordinating the efforts of multiple contractors with a view to completely replacing the electrical systems, plumbing, HVAC, sprinklers, alarms and dry walling. It wasn’t easy but last month, the Fire Marshall declared the building officially fit for occupancy. It’s warm, and I have yet to find a plug, amongst the hundreds, that doesn’t work!

In May this year, we engaged in discussions with the owners of Theodore TOO the Tugboat with a view to the famous Tug visiting Kingston. Not only were we successful in negotiating a port visit to Canada’s first capital, we agreed ‘Theo’ would dock at the East Pier of our property. Board member Kelly Pope-Wiley volunteered to orchestrate the entire event, which turned out to be a moving target – tugboats don’t do well in the open waters of the Gulf of St Lawrence!

But the pressure was on – what to do with the overgrown East Pier… an ad hoc team launched in earnest at the beginning of June in what was a 2-3 day a week enterprise. Board member George Merry provided us, at his expense, the services of ground keeper Bernie; Board members Jay Sheff, Dave Casson and I chipped in. Board member Hans Westenberg’s wife, Marion, joined the team as well. Together, we systematically cleared the pier of vegetation using chain saws, weed whackers, shears, clippers and, eventually lawn mowers. Dave Casson re-built the two benches most have enjoyed since, and we stripped the Dry Dock of all vegetation. They are now fondly known as Dave’s bench.

Even before this frenzy began, Judy Gay had resumed her exemplary work as Museum Gardener and transformed all the beds into works of art, and also reminding me that plants don’t do well without water. This resulted in our acquisition of three environmentally-friendly rain barrels, which the multi-talented Bernie easily hooked up to drain pipes. And the grass along the Museum buildings was cut several times and actually started to look like grass once again – what a team!

Long time Museum supporter Peter Rubens dropped in several times to help us with various projects, such as re-mounting the Museum lettering on the exterior wall of the building and cleaning up superfluous exterior wiring from the 1890 part of the building.

When Theo arrived on the afternoon of 12 July, the grounds looked spectacular, thanks to all their efforts…it was a banner day for the Museum.

With the grounds looking fantastic, we then turned our focus in mid-July on Phase 1 interior embellishments – vestibule, lobby, downstairs washrooms, staircase and upstairs offices and hallway. Clearing out the vestibule and lobby of all the tools and refuse was a monumental task – it was Marion who motivated me to get it done together. Once done, we started plastering, sanding and painting. Dave and Peter remained steady hands in the process, spending countless hours doing the ceilings and walls of the bathrooms, as well as elsewhere. Dan Rose, one of our summer employees, proved indispensable in painting the upper levels; two young high school students – Zoe and Ava – were a God send in helping paint the lobby walls, devoting 5 hours twice a week to the process. But, at the centre of it all in July and August, it was Marion who shone, spending countless hours a week demonstrating her painting talents.

Notwithstanding our indoor focus, the grounds had to be maintained and Board members Anita Mercier and Jay Sheff joined me repeatedly throughout the summer in mowing lawns and weed whacking. It was not uncommon to witness Anita on her knees on the pier, wrestling with the vines, trying to keep the vegetation down to an acceptable level. Both Anita and Board member Kelly Pope-Wiley also joined us in the indoor painting campaign, while Dave and Peter took down every door in sight, shaved them down and made them right again.

And so, when Board member Rob Mazza, who had the lead in coordinating the Canadian Sailing Hall of Fame (CSHOF) event in Kingston at the Kingston Yacht Club, walked the 2021 inductees through the Museum on 5 October, they were in awe – another banner day!

Two other volunteers also joined us over the course of the last year – Tim Cunningham and Abigail Hellier. Tim has tons of media experience and background and Abi is a marketing and communications guru. They have volunteered, through the Museum’s Marketing and Communications Committee, to put us back on the map – regionally, provincially and across Canada. Their work is already bearing fruit.

Behind the scenes, volunteer Mike Rimmer has been working tirelessly supporting website development projects including a new Research Portal, which after encountering some programming delays is back on track for completion in the near future. Mike is also supporting the expansion of our Canadian Sailing Heritage section of our website – for those sailing enthusiasts, keep an eye on our website for collection specific pages, searchable C&C plans site and the latest information on the Canadian Sailing Hall of Fame. Mike has been instrumental in the website’s on-going re-development project.

Post the CSHOF event, we have turned on to Phase 2 – re-cleaning the engine/pump room, painting the hallway leading into the ‘chimney room’ and eventually tackling the curatorial/research room on the second floor.

On behalf of the Chair and Board of Directors of the MMGLK, thank you all so much – the transformation has been miraculous. That said, there can be no rest for the weary in 2022…the mission continues!


By Serge Labbé, Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors

Tribute to volunteers
Before and After

East pier before (June 2021) and after (December 2021)

Caramel in the flowers
Caramel, Head of Visitor Services, inspects the gardens

Top-left: James sanding office floors. Top-right: Marion painting window trims. Bottom-left: Hand, Dave and Peter working on engine room pumps. Bottom-right: Zoe and Ava painting lobby.