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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.

Nautical
Nights

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

Lifelong
Learning

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
Collection

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.

Nautical Nights

(In partnership with the Kingston Yacht Club)

Nautical Nights

Nautical Nights Speaker Series, in partnership with Kingston Yacht Club (KYC), is an annual tradition at the Great Lakes Museum. It’s one other way to keep us connected and warm during the cold winter (and spring) months!

We feature a wide variety of speakers who draw on the unique power of storytelling to share their perspectives and research. Speakers cover a range of topics surrounding environmental, social and military histories, as well as current issues or phenomenon. These unique evenings are now offered in a hybrid format (in-person at the Kingston Yacht Club and virtually via YouTube live-stream) with $8 tickets to help cover speaker honorariums and future events.

Catch-up on previous seasons below or on our YouTube channel.

Nautical Nights-logo

Nautical Nights Season 7

S.S. Keewatin – The Tale of an Edwardian Steamship

Walter Lewis | 7 February 2024

Get a head start on your Keewatin trivia with this presentation on the Museum’s newest and largest, but not oldest artefact. Great Lakes historian Walter Lewis joins us to share his research into the construction, service, passengers and crew of the last Canadian Pacific steamship liner in the world.

We’ll give you an update on the restoration work and tour development! Books on the Keewatin will be available for sale.

Schooner Women

David More | 21 February 2024

It is a little-known fact that hundreds, perhaps thousands of women crewed Great Lakes Schooners during the last half of the 19th Century.

Most served as sea-cooks, a phenomenon unknown elsewhere on sailing vessels, and many also proved their capabilities in command of these large freighting schooners until the very end of the age of sail.

HMCS THIEPVAL: KINGSTON’S LITTLE SHIP THAT COULD

Duncan McDowall | 6 March 2024

A tale of Kingston shipbuilding, Canadian naval policy, adventure on the high seas and a grim demise of the Pacific coast.

HMCS Thiepval, a armed trawler built in Kingston in 1917, sailed off to a fascinating career on the high seas. She was a charter member of the fledgling Canadian Navy, initially guarding the Atlantic coast in the last year of the First World War and then serving as a patrol vessel on the Pacific coast. In the 1920s, she became the first western military vessel to visit Bolshevik Russia, landing in Vladivostok in aid of a British attempt to circle the globe by aircraft. She was eventually wrecked on a reef off Vancouver Island in 1930 and is now a favoured dive site.

HAUDENOSAUNEE SLAVERY IN THE MEDITERRANEAN GALLEY FLEET OF LOUISE XIV

Scott Berthelette | 20 March 2024

At Fort Frontenac, in the summer of 1687, a French army under the command of Governor Denonville arrested hundreds of Haudenosaunee men, women, and children in conjunction with the French army’s invasion of the Seneca homeland. Under the false pretences of a feast meant to facilitate peace negotiations, 36 Haudenosaunee men were transported down the Saint-Lawrence River to Quebec where they were subsequently shipped to France and forced into servitude on Louis XIV’s Mediterranean galleys. Following this egregious French betrayal, the Haudenosaunee were outraged and retaliated against the French colony by besieging Fort Frontenac and raiding the parish of Lachine near Montreal. Haudenosaunee leaders had their own terms for peace with New France, which included the return of all prisoners in French custody. Of the original 36 galley slaves only 13 survivors accompanied Governor Frontenac to return to Canada in 1689. This presentation aims to situate seventeenth-century Haudenosaunee history in a wider Atlantic or global context.

Winter 2023 Speaker Series

Season 6 of Nautical Nights in partnership with Kingston Yacht Club featured a number of local and regional historians, environmentalists and maritime experts. Catch-up on what you missed below.

SEAWAY QUEENS: THE STYLE AND GRACE OF LEGENDARY LAKERS

Jim McRae | 11 January 2023

Seaway Queens, The Style & Grace of Legendary Lakers tells the story of the iconic freshwater fleet praised and respected for the essential role its played across the wider Great Lakes region, and beloved in the individual towns and communities on the lakes and rivers where the ships are fixtures. The book spans the earliest days of marine through to the modern era with 10 themed chapters discussing major changes and developments in areas such as technology, fleet renewal and the environment.

Order your own copy for the author to sign – it’s a great holiday gift!

BATEAUX AND WHALEBOATS: BRADSTREET’S BATEAUX SERVICE AND THE FALL OF FORT FRONTENAC 1758

Ian McCulloch | 25 January 2023

John Bradstreet’s Raid of 1758 resulted in the capture and destruction of Fort Frontenac. It heralded the end of the French regime on the Lake and in Canada.

Bradstreet’s Battoe Service was a new capability that made it all possible, allowing for the movement of armies with cannon through the wilderness effectively for the first time at Cataraqui. The successful raid on Kingston saw the British army use their new capability again the following year in the capture of Fort Niagara and the subsequent year when they descended the St Lawrence River to capture Montreal.

Lake Superior Our Helper: Stories from Batchewanaung Anishinabek Fisheries

Dr Kristen Lowitt | 8 February 2023

This talk will share insights from a collaborative film research project to support Batchewana First Nation’s traditional fisheries. Batchewana First Nation is located on the eastern shore of Lake Superior (Gichigami in Anishinaabemowin). Despite the ongoing impacts of European colonization on the community’s ways of life, they continue to fish and assert their inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights. This talk will discuss the methodologies underlying this project and share some of the social, political, and ecological relationships surrounding Batchewana First Nation’s fisheries as expressed in the documentary film. Film website: www.batchewanaungfish.ca.

HMS Speedy: the Tragedy and the Mystery

Dan Buchanan | 8 March 2023

The loss of HMS Speedy was a terrible disaster when it happened on October 8, 1804. The new book “The Wreck of HMS Speedy: The Tragedy that Shook Upper Canada” presents the events around the loss of the Speedy in detail and with an objective eye on the conflicts of the day between the government, the new settlers and the indigenous people who occupied the land. The author gained access to Ed Burtt’s never-published personal documents after he passed away in 2017. He was the diver in Belleville who believed he had found the remains of the Speedy during survey work on Lake Ontario in the early 1990s. A lot of controversy developed around the survey work and Ed Burtt’s documents shed light on the reasons why no archaeology work was done on the site after the survey work ended. The presentation will show some of the currently available images of items found during the survey work along with some explanation for what the items might be.

Pierre’s Song: the Beauprés of Portsmouth

Dr David More and Marie Edwards | 22 March 2023

The patriarch of the Beaupré family arrived in Kingston during the War of 1812 to assist the British as a shipbuilder, working on HMS St. Lawrence in the Royal Dockyard there. The family settled in Portsmouth Village, where they continued shipbuilding for many years, constructing such iconic Lake schooners as the Oliver Mowat and Queen of the Lakes. Edouard Beaupré also was instrumental in the civic founding of the community as a member of its first town council, and constructed what has remained an icon of the Village, the Portsmouth Tavern, which the family owned until 1974. This is a sketch of their history going back to the earliest days of New France.

Fixing Niagara Falls: Manipulating the World’s Most Famous Waterfall

Dr Daniel Macfarlane | 29 March 2023

In this presentation I will detail how engineers, bureaucrats, and politicians manipulated the world’s most famous waterfall particularly during the early Cold War. During the first half of the twentieth century, the United States and Canada explored various ways to maximize hydropower from the Niagara River while “preserving” the falls. Decades of environmental diplomacy and transborder studies led to a 1950 treaty that allowed new hydroelectric stations to funnel most of the river’s water to generate power. To facilitate these diversions and lessen the visual impact of redirecting so much water, the two nations cooperated to install a range of control works while reshaping and shrinking the Horseshoe Falls.