Fonds F2995 - Coverdale family fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Coverdale family fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

Level of description


Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1779-1973 (Creation)
    Coverdale family

Physical description area

Physical description

0.44 m of textual records

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

William Coverdale (1801-1865), son of Christopher Coverdale, came to Kingston in 1832 or 1833. There is conjecture that the family came to Lower Canada about 1810 from England. The first two children of Catherine and William Coverdale were born at Île aux Noix, Lower Canada, the remainder in Kingston. The earliest mention of Coverdale in Kingston appears in the St George’s Church parish register, recording the birth of a son on 23 Sept. 1833.

Coverdale became the “master builder” at the penitentiary in June 1834 and held the post 14 years. During that time the main building and gatehouse were slowly constructed, mostly with convict labour. In 1848, a bill introduced by Henry Smith, son of Warden Henry Smith of the penitentiary, passed parliament; the bill cut the architect’s salary and increased that of the warden. Coverdale resigned and, because of the constant difficulties he had experienced with the warden, refused reappointment when the salary was restored.

In 1859 Coverdale also became the architect – the term he had used to describe himself after 1842 – for the asylum in Kingston and continued on this project to his death. The building he planned was erected mainly by convict labour and took over eight years to finish; the centre and the east wing were formally opened in March 1865.

The penitentiary and asylum buildings, both still standing, mark the beginning and end of Coverdale’s work in Kingston. Between his activities on these two massive works, he designed and built every manner of structure. The residences he planned ranged from workmen’s cottages to country mansions. Although his account book lists a few commissions in an area extending from Prescott to Port Hope and up to Perth, most of his work was in Kingston.

In 1844 Coverdale took over the superintendence of the building of Kingston’s magnificent town hall from George Browne. When the rear wing burned in 1865, he prepared plans for its rebuilding, but was unable to complete the project, passing away in 1865. The work was carried out after his death by his son, William Miles Coverdale (1828?-1884). W. M. Coverdale had trained under his father, and in addition to rebuilding City Hall he completed a number of building and restoration projects on his own before becoming City Engineer, a post he held until his death on 11 June 1884.

William Hugh Coverdale (1871-1949), son of William Miles Coverdale, was a collector of Canadiana and President of Canada Steamship Lines, 1922-1949. W. H. Coverdale is recognized as one of the first collectors to take an interest in objects reflecting the traditional culture of French Canada.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds reflects the architectural practice of William Coverdale and his son William Miles Coverdale and is comprised of correspondence, financial records, design submissions and specifications, estimates, and reports relating various projects including the Criminal Lunatic Asylum, better known as Rockwood Asylum at Kingston, Ontario. Also includes photographs of the summer home of William Hugh Coverdale at Lemoine's Point Farm.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Mary Fraser


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Associated materials

Related materials


Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules or conventions


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Language of description

Script of description


Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places

Related genres

Location (use this to request the file)

  • Shelf: 2504.11
  • Shelf: V132.22 SE
  • Map cabinet: Map 153