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Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History No. 15

Report of the 1972 Archaeological Excavations of the Market Shoal Tower, Kingston, Ontario

by Donald A. Harris


The artifact collection from the tower was small and consisted mostly of iron building hardware. The ceramics, glass and miscellaneous groups of material were very poorly represented. The building hardware in the course of time had fallen into the debris as the doors, window mouldings and other wooden features had rotted and pulled away from the stone wall. The other large category of metal artifacts found was ordinance that had been left behind when the tower was abandoned. Because the tower stood open to the public and the weather, and because of the undifferentiated stratigraphy, artifact counts were not considered pertinent. This was especially true of nails, and no systematic effort was made to collect all of the nails in the building. To have done so would have destroyed other important features such as the remaining flooring and the aperture mouldings. A sample of the different types of nails used was taken, however. Although object counts were made, it had been the author's intention to treat these artifacts in a qualitative rather than a quantitative manner as a result of the feeling that the sample was not large enough or representative enough to justify statistical treatment.


The ceramic collection represented 11 vessels and none of these were very distinctive. All could be dated to the latter part of the 19th century or the early 20th century and they consisted of the following:

Porcelain egg cups2
Stoneware beer bottle with the inscription "Fisher and Thorton, Kingston", near base1
Plain, widemouth, partially vitrified storage jar 1
Plain, partially vitrified cup with wheat straw motif moulded on rim1
Plain saucer same as cup1
Plain, partially vitrified saucer, no motif1
Small bowl, plain, partially vitrified1
Small plate, white earthenware paste, no decoration1
Black transfer printed cup1
Tea pot lid with treacle glaze common to many New England potteries, e.g., Bennington1
Small porcelain, Siamese cat figurine1
Miniature plate, cup and saucer of porcelain from child's tea set3

Because of the small size of the collection it would be difficult to say that it represented garrison life. What was more likely was that it represented the people who lived in the tower after the garrison was removed and the tower abandoned by the military forces.


The pipe fragments from the Market Shoal tower included only 12 stem fragments and one pipe bowl. Of the pieces that had identifiable marks all could be dated to the mid-19th century. Only three pipestem fragments carried any indication of maker's marks and two of these were the mark of William Murray, Glasgow. Murray was known to have been making pipes in that city between the years 1833 and 1861 (Walker 1971: 25). The other pipe stem was marked Dixon. representing a pipe manufacturer in Montreal between the years 1847 and 1894 (Walker 1971: 25). Three of the stems had traces of green or yellow glaze around the mouthpieces, a practice which was popular during the 19th century, and another had a flattened tip or mouthpiece (Fig. 41). This effect was quite similar to the type of tip used on briar pipes which had become popular during the latter part of the 19th century (Walker 1971: 31). The only bowl found had its distinguishing characteristics marred and was unable to provide any clues as to its place or date of origin.

41 Clay pipe fragments excavated from the Shoal tower.

42 Married maker's mark on the side of the pipe bowl.


Only two coins were found, one a copper halfpenny and the other a copper penny (Figs. 43 and 44). Both were minted by the Bank of Upper Canada in 1857. The Bank of Upper Canada was formed in Toronto in 1820 and in 1849 it became the government bank after the burning of the Parliament buildings in Montreal. It was also given the privilege of issuing copper coins, but during the financial crisis of 1867-68 its operations were suspended and it was unable to reorganize (Breton 1894: 116).

43 Obverse and reverse sides of 1857 Canadian halfpenny.

44 Obverse and reverse sides of 1857 Canadian penny.


Only six buttons were found in the excavation. Five of these were white, felspathic buttons of the type found on shirts (Fig. 45). The sixth was a brass Canadian militia button (Fig. 47). Embossed on the face of this button is a crown over three fieldpieces with the words "Canada Militia" encircling the edge. On the reverse side of the button are stamped the words "Superior Quality" and the letters "P P B". All parts of the button including the face, back and eye are made of brass. The face is domed and folded around the edge of the back and the eye is a U-shaped loop riveted through the back of the button. This type of button, described by Emilio (1911: 161), was worn by the Canadian Militia Army Artillery between the years 1890 and 1896, but Emilio's description varies from that of the button found in that he noted the maker as being P. Tait Limerick. Associated with the buttons were two button sticks or button cleaning guards (Fig. 46).

45 Five white feldspathic buttons.

46 British military button "sticks" used as guards to prevent cleaning agent from getting on uniforms.

47 Reverse and observse sides of Canadian militia button used by the militia during the mid-1890s.

These brass guards were slid between the tunic and the button to protect the tunic while the button was being cleaned. Both of the sticks are made of brass, but one is open-ended while the other is closed. On one side of the open-ended button stick is stamped the date 1811 and the other side bears the stamp of the manufacturers "Smith & Wright, Button Ornament Manufacturers, Contractors, Birmingham." The closed end button stick bears no manufacturer's stamp, just the stamped inscription "J (broad arrow) II". Button sticks were discontinued with the recent introduction of non-tarnish buttons.


The glass artifact collection was not much larger than that of the ceramics, numbering 16 pieces. Of these 16, three were liquor bottles, three were druggist's bottles, two were beverage bottles, three were lighting devices and five were table glass. This object count was based upon identifiable fragments and does not necessarily represent whole objects.

Liquor Bottles

Of the three liquor bottles found, two were olive-green and had been turn moulded and the other was made of a brown glass that carried stippling and part of an embossed design. The two olive-green bottles date from a post-1870 period (Toulouse 1969: 532). The brown stippled bottle looks to have been machine made (Jones. pers. com.) and probably dates from the 20th century.

Beverage Bottles

Two aquamarine beverage bottles were recovered from the excavation, but one was very fragmented and all that could be determined about it was that it had been made in a two-piece mould. The other (Fig. 48) was made for the American Bottling Company and used the Hutchison stopper as a closure device. This stopper was patented in 1879 and discontinued in 1912 (Riley 1958: 97-98).

48 Beverage bottle of aquamarine glass employing Hutchinson stopper made for American Bottling Company.

Druggist's Bottles

Three druggists bottles were recovered from the excavation. Two of these (Fig. 49) were complete and the third was represented by the neck and lip. All three of these bottles had the type of lip known as the "Prescription Lip" which was illustrated in the 1897 annual catalogue of Whitall, Tatum and Company (1897: 10). The two complete bottles were made by this company for W. D. Gordon and Company, Chemists, located on Princess Street, Kingston. This company appears in the Kingston City directory for the year of 1872, but does not reappear in succeeding years. One of these bottles was an 8-oz. "Philadelphia Oval" (Whitall, Tatum and Company, 1897: 15) and the other was a tall "French Square" of the same capacity (Whitall, Tatum and Company, 1897: 12). The Whitall, Tatum and Company glass manufacturer, whose factories are located in Millville, New Jersey, developed in 1857 out of a series of ownership and partnership changes that began with James Lee in 1606. Beginning as manufacturers of cylinder glass it is now the oldest continuous glassmaking plant in the United States (Toulouse 1971: 544-45)

49 Two druggists bottles made by Whitall, Tatum and Company for W. D. Gordon, chemist, Princess Street, Kingston. The bottle to the left is a "French square" and that on the right is a "Philadelphia Oval," Both are from the same provenience.

Lighting Devices

Lighting devices included a lamp chimney, a font for an oil lamp and an oil lamp base with handle (Fig. 50). It was uncertain as to whether or not these had come from the same lamp but it was quite possible. The pressed glass lamp base was circular in shape and unadorned by any decorative motif.

50 Font and base from an oil lamp. These came from the same provenience and may be from the same lamp.

Table Glass

This category included five different patterned pieces, all of which were pressed and date from the latter part of the 19th century. One such pattern was that of the "Bull's Eye Variant" produced in the 1850s and 1870s. This particular piece (Fig. 51) was a goblet and closely fitted the description given by Lee (1960: 154-55). The metal of the glass was heavy and there were six bull's eyes tapering down into an hexagonal stem, but the stem itself was missing as was the foot. The bull's eye pattern was employed by the New England Glass Company and the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, and Lee (1960: 154-155) states that the variant style was illustrated in an undated catalogue of Bryce Brothers of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The second heavy patterned piece was a small creamer with a flattened sawtooth design. This creamer closely resembled one illustrated by Lee (1960: 202) and is shown in Figure 52. This pattern was also produced from the late 1840s and early 1850s and was illustrated in an undated catalogue of George Duncan and Sons of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania (Lee 1960: 138)

51 Goblet of pressed glass with "Bulls Eye Variant" design.

52 Small compressed glass creamer with flattened saw-soothed design.

The last glass object of the heavy pressed variety was a small bowl with ribbed sides. This bowl had what appeared to be a ground and polished pontil mark on the base and has not yet been identified (Fig. 53). There were two other pressed glass pieces in the collection, but these were much lighter in weight than the aforementioned vessels. The first of these was represented by a small rim fragment that carried a section of a decorative motif on the interior surface. This was probably a lid to a sugar dish (Fig. 54) and the decorative motif was that of the "Cabbage Rose" (Lee 1960: 373-4). This pattern was popular in the late 1860s, one producer being the Central Glass Company in Wheeling, West Virginia. Another vessel of light weight in pressed glass was a small honey or preserve dish measuring 3-1/2 inches in diameter (Fig. 55). This dish bore the "Bleeding Heart" pattern produced by the King Glass Company of Pittsburg prior to its absorption into the United States Glass Company in 1891. The series bearing this motif was begun in the 1870s (Lee 1960: 399-400). All of these fragments were tested under ultraviolet light and found to contain no lead, indicating that they were made after 1864 when soda glass began to replace lead glass (McKearin & McKearin 1948:142).

53 Pressed glass tumbler with ground and poished pontil mark on the base.

54 Pressed glass sugar bowl lid with "Cabbage Rose" design.

55 Small pressed glass honey or preserve dish with a "Bleeding Heart" design.

Window Glass

The remaining glass that was found within the tower was that which had been used to glaze the windows of the magazine. This plate glass was found on the window sills and had a thickness of 15/64 in. It is not known where this glass was manufactured, but it was probably cast (Davis 1949: 168-70).

Metal Artifacts

The metal artifacts found constituted the bulk of the artifacts retrieved from the excavation and most of these items were building hardware in the form of nails and wall anchors. Metal artifacts were divided into functional groups; building hardware, ordnance, ordnance hardware, artillery tools and miscellaneous.

Building Hardware

Some mention of the manner and materials with which the tower was constructed have already been made. The major building materials used were limestone and brick. The floors were wooden and the flooring was held in place with wrought nails. These nails (Fig. 56) were for the most part 4 in. or 6 in. in length with a chisel tip and a diamond-shaped head. There were also 5, 4-1/2, 3-3/4 and 3 in. wrought nails used as well. Some cut nails in lengths of 6, 5, 4 and 3-1/4 in. were found. The only use noted for these cut nails was in the construction of the wooden window and door mouldings. There were also some wire nails found, but their number was very small and probably did not relate to the original tower construction. Another type of nail found in the construction of the tower was a copper tack 13/16 in. in length. These tacks were used to attach the copper sheathing to the door and window frames of the magazine.

56 Various sizes of nails used in the woodwork of the tower.

Among the debris a large number of washer-headed bolts were found still retaining wood about their shanks. These bolts measured approximately 6 in. in length and had a shank diameter of 7/16 in. Although none of these bolts were found in situ their most probable use was that of binding together the laminated interior doors of the structure. The gap between the washered head and the nut on the threaded end averaged 4-5/8 in. although this measurement varied somewhat. An example of this type of bolt can be seen in Figure 57. Along with these bolts a number of threaded screws were found. These screws were used to attach the iron floor battens to the flooring or to attach closure hardware such as shutter fasteners to their mouldings. All of those measured were 2 in. long.

57 The bolt at the top has been described as a batteau bolt while that at the bottom was used to bind together the laminated wooden doors that were used in the interior passageways of the tower.

Found in large quantities and still in situ were wrought iron wall anchors. These wall anchors (Fig. 58) were approximately 7 in. in length and were used to retain uniform racks in position along the walls. Contrary to the statement made by Lavell concerning the use of non-ferrous metals in the magazine, these anchors were used to retain wall racks in that room.

58 Wrought iron wall anchors used throughout the building to fasten equipment and uniform hangers to the brick walls of the tower.

Another item already discussed but used throughout the tower were iron straps to batten down the flooring. This batten shown in Figures 7 and 62 was made especially for this tower as demonstrated in the fitting of the various corners and angles of the building. Much of this material remained in situ and was left there. A number of small door covering vents were found still in place within the tower and an example of these is shown in Figure 63. This particular door had fallen or been removed from its hinges and was found in the debris of the commissariat stores.

59 Pintle used on the first set of wooden doors just inside the main entranceway of the tower. The outside doors to the tower were sheet iron and their pintles were fixed in the mortar of the building.

60 Wooden bolt receiver on left and door latch part on right.

61 Copper grate of uncertain use and provenience.

62 Sections of iron floor batten. The top two were cast to fit into the corners of the commissariat while the third piece is just a short piece of straight stock. All are from the same provenience.

63 A hasp used on one of the interior doors and a small vent door used in the barracks stores.

The hinges used to swing the closures in the structure were either cast iron, wrought iron or brass. The brass hinges (Fig. 64) were used on the doors and windows of the magazine. The wrought iron hinges varied in size from 2 ft. to 3 ft. strap hinges used to hang the larger doors to the smaller T-shaped hinges used to hang the interior shutters on the second level windows. Very large pintles such as the type shown in Figure 58 were used for the major doors.

64 Copper window hinge from powder magazine window. View is from the north.

The above-mentioned types of building hardware constituted the bulk of that found within the building, although there were several miscellaneous items found. These included an iron ring, several iron and copper floor grates, lock parts, two sliding bolts and a very corroded thumb latch. Thumb latch fixtures were used on the doors of the third level privies as seen in Figure 65, and were probably used on the other doors in the structure.

65 Thumb latch, door lock and sliding bolt used to secure the latrine door of latrine B.


In the original proposal the Market Shoal tower was designed to carry two 32-pounder smoothbore cannon and one 24-pounder smoothbore cannon on the gun platform and three 32-pounder carronades on the second level. This plan was changed and the tower was ultimately armed with three 32-pounder smoothbore cannon on dwarf traversing carriages on the gun platform. Although the carriages were stamped 1857, this was not the date that the tower was armed but the date that the carriages were manufactured. They were shipped out to Kingston in 1859 and the first two guns were mounted in 1862. The third was installed in 1863. These three guns still remain on their carriages as installed. The first two carronades which fired from the second level windows were installed in 1862 and the final carronade was installed in 1869. The mounting of all these guns was prompted by the Civil War in the United States. The inventory of excavated ordnance was relatively small, consisting of three 32-pound solid shot, 114 small-shot, 14 grape-shot platforms and six iron discs. There was no smallarms equipment found except for one trigger guard (Fig. 69).

The three cast-iron solid shot weighed 31 lb. 7 oz. each. The grape-shot was also cast iron and weighed 2 lb. 12 oz. each and had a uniform diameter of 2-3/4 in. All of these smaller shot were found in the No. 1 ordnance store as were their spindles and bases. These shot still had fragments of canvas clinging to them and the platforms upon which the shot were stacked consisted of iron discs 7/16 in. thick with a diameter of 6 in. (Fig. 66). The spindles, forge welded to their centres, had a height of 8 in. and the shot was stacked upon these bases three high in rows of three, then wrapped in canvas and bound in place with rope. This type of shot was known as quilted grape-shot and nine of them plus the spindled iron disc weighed 30 lb. (See Gooding 1965: 41). The iron discs were also probably used to make a type of grape-shot. This type, described by Manucy (1949: 69), consisted of iron shot set in tiers in a canvas sleeve and separated by iron discs. These discs were 7/16 in. thick and had a diameter of 5 in. There were also some fragments of tin sheeting found in close proximity to these shot which may indicate that tin cannisters were also used to encase the shot. This sheeting was too fragmented to determine its use with certainty, however.

Ordnance Hardware

The hardware associated with the working of the guns was also sparsely represented, consisting of three cleats and one iron skid (Fig. 66) for a gun carriage.

66 Spindle, plate and shot from the No. 1 ordnance store. This shot was used to make quilted grape shot. Remnants of canvas can still be seen clinging to the shot.

67 Gun carriage skid and wooden capstan for gun carriage or a tampon for the mouth of a cannon.

Artillery Tools

One gunner's pick was found and it is illustrated in Figure 68. A ratchet lever or crank (Fig. 70) for elevating a 32-pounder cannon was also found.

68 Gunner's pick. This tool was used by the gunner to clear the vent hole and puncture the powder keg.

69 Trigger guard from some type of smallarm.

Miscellaneous Metal Artifacts

This category consisted of a mason's chisel a pulley wheel and some stove parts. Also included in this inventory was an 8-oz. nesting weight (Fig. 72) for an equal arm balance with the inscription "Canada" on the back. Below this was a crown over the letters "VR" over an "A". Two lateen spoons were also recovered, as well as one padlock and lock escutcheon (Figs. 73 and 74). Some cast ornamental iron grill work (Fig. 75) was found, but not enough to determine the pattern employed.

Wooden Artifacts

The wooden artifacts consisted mostly of door and window framing and moulding. The objects included in this collection do not represent any sort of statistical sample of the material available for much of it was left in place for future study. Samples of the mouldings, floor joists and flooring were brought back to Ottawa for analysis toward species identification. It is currently believed that most of the wood used in the construction of the tower was oak. The other wooden objects were a quoin (Fig. 70) used for elevating a 32-pounder cannon or carronade and a wooden capstan for a 32-pounder gun carriage (Fig. 67). Stamped on the end of the quoin was the inscription "32PR WD." (Fig. 71)

70 Wooden quoin or wedge and wrought-iron crank used for elevating a 32-pounder cannon or carronade.

71 Base of wooden quoin with the stamped inscription "32 PRW [broad arrow] D." The broad arrow is the mark of the British Board of Ordnance.

72 Obverse and reverse sides of an 8-oz. brass scale weight.

73 Brass lock escutcheon from the commissariat store.

74 Iron padlock with brass escutcheon plate.

75 Fragments of cast iron grillwork. Not enough of this grill was found to determine the complete pattern and its use is not known.

Uniform Racks

Aside from the flooring and window moulding the other major use of wood in the tower was in the construction of uniform racks that lined the walls of all the rooms. These racks were held in place by the wall anchors described under metal artifacts, accounting for such a large number of those items. The racks consisted of planks attached to the walls into which were inserted spindles of the type shown in Figure 76. Most of these spindles had rotted at their bases and had collapsed into the debris that filled the tower. All of this woodwork was painted grey.

76 Wooden uniform or equipment hangers. Although the provenience for these particular specimens is unknown, it is certain they were used in all rooms of the tower including the magazine.

Miscellaneous Wooden Artifacts

Miscellaneous artifacts included one black checker game piece and several pieces of wooden dowel used as uniform hangers or racks.

Bone Artifacts

There were only three bone-handled utensils found in the excavation, a three-pronged fork, a knife and a toothbrush handle (Fig. 77). This toothbrush handle was marked "N. C. POISON — Kingston." There was also a small bone gaming die found (Fig. 78). The rest of the bone consisted of food bones with butcher marks and some skeletal material from small animals that must have gotten into the tower and died there. No analysis has yet been done of this material.

77 Bone toothbrush handle with "N. C. POISON — Kingston" stamped in the handle.

78 Bone gamming die.

Leather Artifacts


Leather shoes were found in the No. 2 ordnance store and in the area of the commissariat store. Only one shoe was found in this latter area, but the total possible number of shoes found was five. This figure is based on the differing types of shoe parts found.


There were three vamps found in the No. 2 ordnance store and all three had been joined to the lower parts of the shoe by use of the MacKay process of stitching patented in 1862 (Anderson 1968: 59). One of these vamps actually had the vamp and quarters combined into one piece joined at the heel, and the quarters were eyed for laces (Fig. 79). The shape of all three vamps was that of a rounded toe.

79 Shoe vamps from the No. 2 ordnance store. The vamp on the left has the letters "I. F." stamped in the leather.


There was only one quarter found and this had been attached to the sole by stitching and had been eyed for laces. This quarter probably belonged to one of the vamps mentioned above.


There were two blunt-toes outsoles (Fig. 80) found in this room as well, but manufacturing processes indicate that they were not a pair. One of these outsoles had been fastened to the uppers by the MacKay process mentioned above with the aid of a screw machine, and the other outsole exhibited the Goodyear Welt process which was patented in 1875 (Anderson 1968: 61). The other outsoles found in this room and belonging to a pair were also manufactured with the Goodyear Welt process. In this case the soles had been turned before the uppers were sewn in place and the heels were attached with wooden pegs. These two shoes postdate 1875. There were also two insoles and one heel lift from this area and they dated from the same period and probably belonged to the same shoes. The only other significant shoes parts found were in the commissariat stores. These parts were all fragments of one shoe and included the vamp and outsole. The entire shoe was held together with wooden pegs indicating an earlier date than those shoes mentioned above. After 1846, when Elias Howe Jr. patented a sewing machine designed to attach the uppers to the lowers by stitching, the peg method of fastening the uppers to the lowers was rapidly supplanted; thus this shoe was probably manufactured shortly after that date. This may have been the oldest shoe found in the excavation.

80 Shoe-soles from the No. 2 ordnance store. The top two outsoles were attached ts the uppers of vamps by the Goodyear Welt process and the bottom outsole was fastened by the MacKay process. Symbols used in drawings.

As a final statement to this section on artifacts, it would appear that most of the material found within the tower was deposited there during the last part of the 19th century. Most of this material dated from 1860 to 1890 with a few artifacts both earlier and later. This arrangement would be expected, given the active life span of the tower and the personnel concentration which was at its highest during the l860s. The structural artifacts can be dated with some sort of surety to the early period of the tower, that is, 1847-49, with the exception of the ordinance which was installed in the 1860s. The major importance of these artifacts lies in the information they can convey concerning the structure itself and its periods of activity rather than in presenting a representation of the quality of life of the persons that occupied the tower.

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