In 1967, Sandy MacLachlan created the Woodworking Museum as a Centennial Project. To house the collection, he dismantled an 1855 log house, originally built by the White family in Lanark County, and moved it to Princess Street in Kingston, Ontario. There it operated as a privately‐owned museum for over a decade.
In the early eighties, it was bought by the former Pittsburgh Township and once again, the log house was moved to its present location at Grass Creek Park. With the amalgamation of the City of Kingston in 1998, the museum became the responsibility of the Culture and Recreation Division in the Corporation of the City of Kingston.
The MacLachlan Woodworking Museum holds the most extensive, nationally significant collection of woodworking tools in Canada.
Founder, Father and Friend
Raised in Kingston and Ottawa, Sandy was a born collector and leader, seemingly destined to found a museum. As a child, he sharpened his ‘curatorial skills’ by collecting many things, including Hallowe’en candy. To keep his candy ‘artifacts’ safe from nibbling siblings, he would nail his collection into a wooden box, showing his early interest in conservation!
As a youth, Sandy developed his leadership skills by participating in Boy Scouts, Sea Cadets, Army Cadets, and the Queen’s Own Highlanders. At his mother’s request, Sandy completed one year of university before he donned his next uniform. After his first year of engineering at Queen’s university, Sandy joined the Canadian Navy and entered WWII. He did a three year tour of duty on the HMCS Huron as a radar operator. After the war, he returned to school and completed his engineering degree at Queen’s and then he moved to North Bay. In the late 1940s, Sandy returned to Kingston with his wife, Helen Ruth, to take over the family business (MacLachlan Lumber), settle down, and raise a family.
As he worked at the family lumber store, Sandy developed a deep fascination with wood and woodworking tools. He started to collect these things and even collected log cabins and entire log houses! As a centennial project, he opened a museum dedicated to ‘wood in the service of man’ where he showcased many artifacts of his personal collection. Eventually, Pittsburgh Township purchased the museum and moved it to its current location at Grass Creek Park.
In his twilight years, Sandy taught at Queen’s University. He also helped his wife run a bed-and-breakfast from their family home. Sandy took great joy in his family, especially in having grandchildren. He made use of his musical and story-telling skills at every family gathering.
Odds & Sods
Selected Objects from the Collection
An assortment of wonderful objects from the vault from toys and mousetraps, to fine art and timely tools. Come and explore the many ways wood has been used in the past 200 years.
The Children’s Forest
Children have high levels of energy, curiosity, and a natural love of the outdoors. Simulate the experience of a camp out in the Children’s Forest, complete with a play tent and campfire.
The Children’s Forest at the MacLachlan Woodworking Museum is our uniquely designed space that gives the experience of being outside while nestled indoors away from the elements. Toys, games, and books are all provided for your children to play and create.
There’s always something under construction in the workshop at the MacLachlan and visitors can get involved. Try your hand at shake making, simple carving, building a timber frame, or printmaking!
Check out a few photos of visitors in our workshop:
Frances K. Smith Arboretum
From Basswood to Gingko there is an array of native and non-native species for you to discover!
Explore the Arboretum to learn about the specific trees that make our region unique and how people of the past and present rely on their many uses.
The arboretum is named for a great champion and former volunteer of the MacLachlan Woodworking Museum. Frances K. Smith was instrumental in the development of the Museum at this location. In particular, she rallied support for the construction of the exhibit building, dedicating hours of letter writing and organizing fundraising events.
Mrs. Smith held many positions on the Museum’s Board in the 1980s, and contributed in
innumerous ways. She heightened the Museum’s professionalism by introducing an acquisition policy and creating many artifact related forms. She also spent many hours inventorying the collection. After her term on the board ended, she continued volunteering for the Museum.
Frances spearheaded the Friends of the MacLachlan Woodworking Museum group. In her first month she had recruited 14 members. By the end of the year she increased that number to 112 memberships. The support she engendered is still evident in the Museum’s membership three decades later.
Please enjoy our arboretum in recognition and appreciation of Frances K. Smith’s passionate support of the MacLachlan Woodworking Museum.