Branch Tower East
East Branch Ditch Tower
Branch Ditch Tower est
Links and documents
1845/01/01 to 1848/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Standing sentinel on the banks of Lake Ontario, Branch Tower East is a specialized defensive structure integral to Fort Henry. It consists of a massive, 14-metre-high circular stone tower, which inclines slightly inwards as it rises. The structure is topped by a timber snow roof of conical shape, which is facetted and covered in sheet metal. The tower is situated on a corner at the extremity of a defensive ditch enclosed by an attached loopholed wall. In addition, a regular musket gallery sits on the opposite flank and a semi-circular caponier projects from the front of the tower. The stone wall of the caponier joins the tower in distinctive ogival pointed arches. The solidly built interior spaces demonstrate a simple geometry with plain surfaces. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Branch Tower East is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations and its architectural and environmental values.
Branch Tower East is a very good example of a structure associated with the defence of Canada from the ongoing threat of the United States, particularly during the expansionist campaign of President Polk leading up to the Oregon Treaty of July 1846. The tower is part of a masonry fort designed for the mounting of smoothbore artillery and musketry. Its task was to defend the ditch, shore and dead ground in front of the Advanced Sea Battery. Its construction, the subsequent economic benefits and the resulting influx of personnel had a significant impact on Kingston.
Branch Tower East is an excellent example of functional 19th century military defence design. Regarded as a modified Martello tower, its specialized features, construction techniques and use of materials express its excellent functional design. The tower also exhibits excellent aesthetic design and very good quality work and craftsmanship.
As an integral component of both the Fort Henry Defence Complex and the line of Martello towers along the Kingston waterfront, Branch Tower East although changed has retained its character. The tower reinforces the coastal defence and military setting of Fort Henry and its distinctive form is familiar to both the townsfolk and visitors to Kingston.
Sources: Fern Graham, Fort Henry, Kingston Ontario. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 95-051; Fort Henry, East Branch Ditch Tower, Kingston, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 95-051.
The character-defining elements of Branch Tower East should be respected.
Its functional 19th century military defence design, excellent aesthetic design and good quality materials and craftsmanship as evidenced in:
- the simple geometric massing of the massive ashlar faced circular tower;
- the conical shaped snow roof of timber and sheet metal;
- the strategically placed loopholes in the tower, gallery and in the caponier at ground level;
- the single iron-sheathed doors on the landward side of the tower at ground level;
- the cut stone walling of the caponier which joins the tower in distinctive ogival pointed arches;
- the configuration of the interior artillery platform mounted at the top of the tower;
- the bomb-proof stone voussoired dome supporting the interior artillery platform;
- the heavy timber framing of the middle and third floors;
- the flight of steps with winder cut into the exterior wall of the tower.
The manner in which Branch Tower East reinforces the military character of Fort Henry.
Government of Canada
Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy
Classified Federal Heritage Building
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Military Defence Installation
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection
Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada
Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada is a 19th-century British military fortress situated on Point Henry between the mouth of Kingston harbour and a second natural harbour…