The Kingston Dry Dock Part 2

Part 2 – A Research Aid – The Kingston Dry Dock

The Kingston Dry Dock
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
A National Historic Site

Research by Earl Moorhead, Archivist

Post War Years


In the immediate post war years the shipyard set about repairing the entrance to the dock. The caisson has been moved to an outer position thus allowing repair work to the caisson chamber and to a dock wall that was subject to leaking. MMGLK Collections.

When CS&E amalgamated with Canada Steamship Lines in 1947 the yard gained a sinecure on the repair of CSL’s large fleet of canalers which wintered at Kingston. This situation provided prosperity until 1959 when the St. Lawrence Seaway opened; 750 foot maximum Seaway vessels quickly overran the Great Lakes rendering the canalers obsolete and they soon disappeared from the commercial shipping scene.

As early as 1953 the management of Kingston Shipyards was anticipating the consequences of the Seaway and was planning for another rebuilding of the graving dock]. Kingston Shipyards was always the ‘poor cousin’ within the CS&E establishment and Manager R.W. Sutton realized that little money would be forthcoming from his own corporation for such a massive undertaking at Kingston. In 1958 he began lobbying independently for support in order to save ‘his’ yard. With the support of many of the Canadian shipping companies, including Paterson, Hall Co, and Misener, (whose position was that a dry dock east of Port Weller would help them by providing competitive rates and close help if a ship was damaged on the St. Lawrence section of the Seaway) and with the support of Kingston federal M.P., E.J. Benson – Minister of Revenue – Sutton had reason to be both sanguine and frustrated at the same time.

Industry opinion favoured his proposal and the untried route through the St. Lawrence section of the new Seaway provided a constant stream of damaged ships which his undersized dock could not accommodate: these casualties provided concrete ammunition for his argument but no business for his troubled yard. Drawings and specifications were draughted up in 1960-64 detailing the proposed expansion of the dry dock, which entailed removing the southerly half of the existing structure, excavating the existing dock bed for extra draft, and extensive dredging of the immediate harbour easterly from the gate: thus to rebuild at the proposed new dimensions of 750 feet in length, 90 feet breadth at grade and 76 feet wide at dock bed, with a working draft of 26 feet. The closure was to be by a pontoon gate. But the capital was not forthcoming, and only the drawings exist.

The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes has extensive bibliographic, archival and artifact collections. Go to for detailed information about using research resources. 



—— City of Kingston Directory 1906
Greenwood, John. Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping. Freshwater Press, Cleveland: 1990
Muirhead, George. Kingston Dry Dock. Report. City of Kingston Planning Department, Kingston: 1974
Page, Donald. Original Shipyard Use of Present Marine Museum 
. Unpublished Mss.: 1981
Perkins, M. Ports Annual 1981. Canadian Marine Publications, St. Catharines: 1981
Rushbrook, Audrey. Turning the Historic Kingston Dry-dock into a Maritime Museum. Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, Kingston: 1977
Wallace, William. Canadian Ports and Shipping Directory . National Business Publications, Gardenvale: 1956.


Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada. Queens Printer, Ottawa: 1880, 1889, 1892, 1893
Moorhead, Earl. Murney Point: Its Evolution, Historic Kingston. Kingston Historical Society, Kingston: 1986.
Perley, Henry. The Dry Dock at Kingston, Transactions of the Canadian Society of CivilEngineers .v.X. John Lovell Montreal: 1896.


National Archives of Canada Finding Aid for RG 11M.Unpublished Mss. (Hard copy reference for MMGLK Fiche 1982.73.1-51)

Manuscript Sources

QUA Kingston Shipyards Dry Dock Book. 1891-1894(Transcript)
QUA City of Kingston Land Registry Abstract Index. Original Survey Water Lot 29 Microfilm 1544 p.489.
MMGLK Kingston Shipbuilding Company Fonds RG 4 “Letters re. Dry Dock Extension 1958-1964” 1983.129.10
MMGLK Great Lakes Ship Registry Database
NAC MG 13 W.O. 44/33, W.O. 44/49, W.O. 55/873

Cartographic Sources

Acc# Title

The MMGLK plan collection 1982.73.1-51 is a fiche copy of original ink on linen drawings held by the NAC; MMGLK accession numbers for the fiche are given first with NAC references following the titles.

Note: duplicate drawings in 1982.73 collection are not listed.

The MMGLK plans 1995.45.3-6 are PMTs of plans held at the NAC; MMGLK accession numbers are listed with the NAC reference following the text title.

The MMGLK plan collection 1981.2.3746-56 consists of original linen drawings, their provenance being the Kingston Shipbuilding Company.

Copies of the plans from the Public Record Office are in the Library Vertical File Marine Railway.

1982.73.1 General Arrangement [Pumps](1890), Wm.Murdock. NAC RG11
1982.73.4 General Arrangement Main Engines(1890),Wm.Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.6 General Arrangement of Auxiliary Engines(1890), Wm.Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.8 Arrangement and Setting of Boilers(1890),Wm.Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.10 Boilers for Pumping Plant(1890), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.12 Main Engines.Details(1890), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.14 Main Engines. Bedplate and Columns(1890), Wm.Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.18 Main Engines. Entablature and Pump Bedplate(1890)
Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.19 Main Engines. Details(1890), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.21 Auxiliary Engines. Details(1890), Wm.Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.23 Auxiliary Engines. Cylinders and Pistons(1890), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.25 Auxiliary Engines. Piston Rods, Connecting Rods and Eccentrics(1890), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.27 Auxiliary Engines. Valves, Reversing Levers and Front Columns(1890), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.29 Details. [Pumps and Piping](1890), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.31 [Site Plan](1909)(Collingwood Shipyards)
1982.73.32 [Property Plan](1891), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.33 Soundings and Borings for New Crib, Also Permanent Points(1918)Corriveau. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.34 Extension to Government Drydock(1929), Eugene LaFleur. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.35 Details of Traveling Crane(1890), Wm.Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.36 Section of Schooner Minnedosa [in drydock](1892).N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.37 [Plan of Kingston Showing Power Dry-dock Property](1881), Eugene LaFleur. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.38 Sites Being Considered for Proposed Larger Dry-dock (1931), Eugene LaFleur. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.39 Arrangement of Boiler Exhaust Pipe(1900), Wm.Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.40 Plan of Kingston Dry-dock Premises: Water line 1907 and Waterline as Surveyed 1797(1907), Wm. Murdock, N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.41 Arrangement of Steam Pipes (n.d.), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.42 Indicator for Hauling Gear (n.d.), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.43 Floor Plan Engine Room(1890), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.44 Site Plan(1929),Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.45 Site Plan [Power Dry-dock and Marine Railway](1890)
Eugene LaFleur. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.46 Replacement of Boilers(1937), Corriveau. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.47 Replacement of Boilers(1937), Corriveau. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.48 Plan of Yoke for Caisson(1890), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.49 Extension to Government Dry-dock.Plan and Profile.(1929)(Canada Public Works)
1982.73.50 Arrangement of Traveling Crane(1890), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1982.73.51 Section of Schooner Bangalore: Keel and Bilge Blocks(1892), Wm. Murdock. N.A.C. RG11
1995.45.3 Engine Bldg. West Elevation.(1890)(N.A.C. RG 11)
1995.45.4 Engine Bldg. South Elevation.(1890)(N.A.C. RG 11)
1995.45.5 Engine Bldg. West Elevation.(1890)(N.A.C. RG 11)
1995.45.6 Dry Dock. Site Plan. Plan, Cross Section, Longitudinal Section, Elevation, Caisson, Boiler House Plan(1896), Henry Perley. Transactions of The Canadian Society of Civil Engineers V.X 1896
1981.2.3746 Dry Dock. Section for Proposed Extension.(1953), Kingston Shipyards [hereafter KSY]
1981.2.3747 Plan of Government Dry-dock as Extended (n.d.), KSY
1981.2.3748 Dry Dock Plan and Sections(1939),KSY
1981.2.3749 Arrangement of Dry Dock at Gate End(1951),KSY
1981.2.3750 Dry Dock as Extended(1944),KSY
1981.2.3751 Dry Dock Borings at Entrance(1957),KSY
1981.2.3752 Arrangement of Dry Dock at Gate End(1959),KSY
1981.2.3753 Caisson Well of Dry Dock (n.d.),KSY
1981.2.3754 Proposed Dry Dock Extension(1960),KSY
1981.2.3755 Proposed Dry Dock Extension(1960),KSY
1982.2.3756 Proposed Dry Dock Extension(1963),KSY
———– Sketch of the Battery at Mississauga, Kingston showing in Yellow the Repairs by the Royal Engineer Department for the Purposes of Placing it in a Secure and Defensible Position. 23 Apr.1838. PRO. WO 55/873 p.448
———— [Kingston Harbour Depicting Marine Railway] 27 March 1839. MPH 891/1 p.2503

Numbers e.g. 1982.2.3755 are known as Accession numbers (Inventory location numbers)


About curiouslakescurator

Sailed professionally for thirteen years then went ashore to become a marine museum curator.
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