Up until the end of the 19th century, Kingston was very important to Canada militarily. It was situated at the junction of three important waterways: Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the Rideau Canal. The fort was built during the War of 1812, and rebuilt in 1836 to better defend from attacks from the north. Since it was expected that the dockyards at Navy Bay were sufficient to defend the city against attacks from the water, most of the cannons of Fort Henry point towards the north to defend against forces attacking by land. When the fort was abandoned as a defensive structure in 1890, the fort had never been attacked.
Although Fort Henry had some use later housing prisoners of war, it was left to deteriorate, and by the 1920’s, some of the limestone walls had started to collapse.
During the depression, when the government started building the provincial road system, the restoration of the fort began. The government foresaw the use of Fort Henry as a possible tourist destination, and so hired all of the stone masons in the surrounding area to restore the fort.
When visiting the fort, be sure to arrive before noon, when a cannon is fired.
Today, the fort is once again in need of renovations. Some sections are off-limits to visitors due to the danger of collapse. Hopefully, sufficient funding will be found to once again bring the fort back to its proper condition.