The Higginson Tower. Photo courtesy of

Looking for something to do in Vankleek Hill that offers both a historic and modern view of the village?

The Higginson Tower is located next to St. John the Apostle Anglican Church (the church on the hill along Highway 34 as you enter Vankleek Hill from the north end) and still occupies the original piece of land on which it was built in 1832. Originally constructed to be a wind-powered grist mill, the stone portion of the tower was built by Lieutenant Thomas Higginson, to grind wheat and corn in order to aid in the development of Vankleek Hill. William Higginson, son of Thomas, added the upper portion to create a observatory and also built the red brick house nearby, now home to Arbor Gallery – Centre for Contemporary Art.

The Higginson Tower stands 56-feet tall (17 metres) and is open to the public for tours five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., during July and August. Be sure to bring along a camera or a phone capable of taking good photos, as the views take visitors back to the early days of the tower’s existence. The site’s landscaping also provides an excellent spot for a family picnic.

Addison Larocque, a summer student from École Secondaire Publique Le Sommet in Hawkesbury, has been hired by the Vankleek Hill Business and Merchant Association to conduct tours of the historic site and provide information for visitors. She will answer any questions and can provide additional information about the tower. Tucked in behind shrubs when facing the property from Church Street, visitors to the Higginson Tower will be greeted with a warm welcome from Larocque.

The tower is a significant landmark and maintains the rustic, classic feel of the massive wood and stone structure. Additionally, it doubles as a fantastic place to check-out for anybody new or unfamiliar with Vankleek Hill and its history. The Higginson family name is well-known throughout Vankleek Hill, where the tower serves as a community pillar.

Visiting the Higginson Tower

Wondering what you can do while visiting the Higginson Tower? Visitors can book a tour to walk up steps that have been used since the early 1830s. Just next door you can visit the Arbor Gallery Cultural Centre, which features both traditional and contemporary art.