Murney Tower
Murney Tower is a Martello tower in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, 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 Cobourgh 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. Cathcart Tower on Cedar Island, Shoal Tower in the Confederation Basin and Fort Frederick on the grounds of the Royal Military College of Canada 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 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. The tower is part of the Rideau Canal and Kingston Fortifications World Heritage Site.


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