The stories behind the structure: McIntosh Castle

Kingston's most architecturally interesting buildings uncovered

McIntosh Castle: 14 Sydenham Street

One house, or rather, castle, located on Sydenham Street just a few blocks from campus is more famously known as McIntosh Castle. While its size isn’t that of a conventional castle, its octagonal, turreted tower facing the street makes the dwelling worthy of the name. Two wings emerge from the tower with green shutters outlining the windows, contrasting the grey stone covering the exterior of the castle.  

There are many legends associated with the castle, one being that Donald McIntosh, the owner during its first phase of construction, promised his family a castle with a view of Lake Ontario to induce them to move to the New World from Scotland. 

While McIntosh may have kept his promise by initiating the castle’s existence, the family never got to live in it. It was sold while still under construction in 1850. 

The castle’s current resident confirmed that McIntosh ran out of money and went broke forcing him to abandon the project and leaving a castle with his name to it in the middle of downtown Kingston.  

The castle has had the same owners for 40 years and remains a private home for the residents. 

The castle also harbours another legend that the current resident of the house was unable to confirm. The “widow’s walk,” a tower rising from the castle that overlooks the adjacent courthouse, according to legend, was installed so that the lady of the house could comfortably sit and drink tea while watching the hangings of criminals that took place at the gallows behind the courthouse. 

While he couldn’t confirm the morbid reasoning, the current resident admitted that the tower does have a very good view of the courthouse. 

One interesting feature of the house is that it doesn’t contain any square rooms and according to the resident, is filled with bay windows, further making its architecture unique on the inside, matching its exterior grandeur. 

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