Pump House Steam Museum
Tourism Region: Thousand Islands
The Pump House Steam Museum is owned and operated by the City of Kingston in what was once the City's main Pump House. Built c. 1849, the building is now used for the preservation, presentation and demonstration of artifacts from the Industrial Steam era. Within the focus room of the museum, you will find two original working steam-driven water pumps which supplied Kingston with water until 1944. Elsewhere in the museum you will find other steam engines, a children's hands-on Science Discovery Center, and model railroads, their equipment and railroad history (including the train set from the show The Friendly Giant . Outside of the museum you can get up close to a variety of steam engines and also see the restored steam launch Phoebe.
About the Collections
The PHSM collections contain operating steam and pump engines and artifacts associated with steam power and technology, photographs of steam locomotives manufactured in Kingston, working model railroad exhibits, and the antique steam launch Phoebe.
Approximate number of objects in the collections: 150
Our archives consist of a small collection of engineering documents related to Pump House & it's history, material on the Phoebe Steam Launch and the steam railroad.
History of water supply to Kingston for drinking, prevention of cholera ( a Celtic Cross is placed at the Pump House to commemorate the many Irish immigrants who landed there but who died of Cholera), firefighting, and sanitation.
Industrial Technology and History
Services & Activities
Model Railway demonstrations including a large "O" gauge railway
Discovery Centre primarily for children grade 1-6, but great fun for all age groups.
The PHSM holds some archival material on the following subjects: steam, railroads and model railroads.
Hands-on exhibits based on Ontario grades 1-6 Science curriculum in the Gordon C. Leitch Discovery Center.
Simple Machines - Discover the many ways in which simple machines make work easier! Explore the fascinating world of the inclined plane, screw, wedge, lever, pulleys, and wheel and axle. Through a variety of demonstrations and hands-on learning, students will understand the differences between the machines and define their basic function. Students will also create their own machine to take home. (Grade 2)
Pulleys and Gears - Experience the exciting world of simple and complex machines! Through interactive experiments, students will learn about machines and how they work. Students will learn technical terms such as “gear train” and will be encouraged to answer questions concerning a number of different aspects about the functions of a pulley. While exploring the museum and its collection, students will learn how pulleys and gears operate in everyday objects. (Grade 4)
What's the Matter with Water? - The properties of matter are explained through the medium of water. Interactive examples are used to show the physical and chemical changes that occur in water when placed in different circumstances. There will also be models that explain how water differentiates from other liquids, including how heat and cold affects different liquids. Students will focus on how the properties of different materials relate to their use in the everyday world. (Grade 5)
Under Pressure- Air and Water Forces of Movement - Explore how different forces play significant roles in the function of the everyday world. Through this program students engage in hands-on demonstrations that show how air and water pressure can be used to move objects and power machines. Looking at the operation of both life-sized and model engines in the Museum, students will observe the action and uses of these forces in real life. (Grade 3)
Yesterday's Knowledge for Today's Technology - Learn about the importance of steam power in the Victorian era! Discover the original steam driven water pumps at Kingston’s first water pumping station. Students will explore the properties of fluids used in yester year’s technology. Through scientific method, the students will experiment with the properties of different fluids and their utilization in today’s technology. (Grade 8)
Discovery Room or Centre
: Age 5-11 (k-6)
: Age 12-17 (7-13)(Quebec: Secondary 1-CEGEP)
Other: The Museum offers a variety of drop-in programming throughout the summer months for children and families to enjoy, such as Tales from the Rails and Let's Talk Science.
Picnic area by the lake, guided tours by appointment in English and French.
Accessible by Public Transportation
Children's Activities or Services
Volunteer Training Offered
All Pump House Steam Museum Members receive:
· Free general admission to the Museum.
· Complimentary admission to the MacLachlan Woodworking Museum the Municipality’s other owned and operated museum.
· Invitations to members-only exhibition previews and other special events.
· Free subscription to the Governor (Pump House Steam Museum) and Imprints (MacLachlan Woodworking Museum), newsletters.
· 10% discount on all purchases in the Gift Shop at the MacLachlan Woodworking Museum
· Free admission to events, demonstrations and more.
Publications and Products
Pump house pamphlets & histories, Phoebe antique steam launch info., video documentary of PHSM, Phoebe poster.
Aerial view of the Pump House Steam Museum at Kingston, Ontario.
© With the permission of Jack Chiang, Kingston Whig Standard. All rights reserved.
The Steam Launch Phoebe, built in 1914 at the Davis Dry Dock Company, Kingston Ontario.
© Pump House Steam Musuem
23 Ontario Street
Pump House Steam Museum
Cultural Services, 216 Ontario St., Kingston, Ontario
Hours of Operation
Victoria Day to Labour Day open to all visitors
March-Sept School & other groups by appointment
Open: Victoria Day-Labour Day weekend, 10:00am-5:00pm 7 days/wk.
other times by appointment
Open on Holidays
CAA/AAA discount 10%