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Part of the historic water intake pipe anno 1891-94, that was recently dug up during the excavation for a new extension of the museum, has been lost. The City’s fifty-four page Archaeological Master Plan should have prevented this.

From the Archaeological Mater Plan: Conservation of Heritage Resources: 7.4.2. The City will permit development and site alteration on lands containing archaeological  resources or areas of archaeological potential if the significant archaeological resources have been conserved by removal and documentation, or by conservation on site.

The historic water intake pipe was at the centre of a court case between the City of Kingston and the manufacturer of the pipe, a company based in Montreal. It was at the time that the bacteria that caused cholera and typhus were discovered and when citizens demanded clean potable water that required a most expensive infrastructure: pump house, intake pipe, water tower, and a network of underground pipes to deliver the water to “takers”, households that had the means to pay for it.

So what was lost that should have been conserved, and documented?

Not this… Nature conserves this part of the historic infrastructure on site.adam-fish-in-crib-special

Underwater photo of the historic wooden crib for the water intake pipe at the Kingston Water Works , now the Pump House Steam Museum. Crib and intake pipe date from 1894

And not this: Diver, Adam Rushton and his colleagues, have photographed the entire historic water intake pipe. This photo shows the intake filter thirty feet above the lake bottom, in sixty feet of water. The intake and its pipe is attached to the wooden crib. Lake Ontario is a perfect conservation environment.



But part of this was recently dug up and lost. This photo shows an underwater section of the twenty four inch diameter intake pipe. It is 2510 feet or almost 1.6 kilometre long. A major Victorian technological feat. It enters the pump house underground. The pipe is made of iron, riveted in sections, each fifty feet long, that are connected by flanges . The pipe was at the root of a controversial business deal between the city and the Montreal company that manufactured the pipe. This is discussed in a research paper by H.Wevers, retired long time volunteer at the museum. For more details click here.


The photo shows the recent digging of a foundation for the new extension to the Pump House Steam Museum.The entrance of the pipe into the building can be clearly seen on the right.


Sections of the historic pipe were dug up and stored on site. A friend of the museum alerted cultural services staff that these sections should be conserved and documented. We offered to arrange for detailed forensic examination at Queen’s University, through a faculty/student project at a later date, at no costs.


intake-pipes-2017-cOne of the damaged pieces of the historic 1894 pipe. Rivet holes in the radial joint, and a riveted longitudinal lap joint are visible. This sample holds a wealth of information that would confirm historically important details: manufacturing flaws; quality of iron plate; tightness of the joints and more. All these aspects were part of an important late 1800s dispute between City engineers, Council and the company that made the pipe. Modern research using microscopic techniques and material analysis, would have revealed information that was not available in the late 1800s. 

Why was the City’s Archaeological Master Plan and its guidelines for preservation and documentation not followed? We don’t know, but this industrial artefact is as important or more so than crooked metal utensil, buttons, crockery, blacksmith tools and materials that are found in expensive archeological digs such as the most recent one at the corner of Queen and Wellington. For more click HERE.


Click the icon below and it will take you to the INTAKE PIPE PHOTO GALLERY.



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