Discovery Harbour traces its roots back to the original British naval and military base in Penetanguishene, built to safeguard access to Upper Canada after the War of 1812. “His Majesty’s Naval Establishment on Lake Huron”, (as it was first called) kept ships prepared to supply British posts to the northwest. By 1820, it was home to over 70 people, including sailors, officers, shipwrights, and soldiers. Five large ships, 15 smaller vessels, and numerous workshops and dwellings were built.
In 1828, a British garrison on Drummond Island was relocated to Penetanguishene. By 1834, Canada was defended exclusively by these forces. An impressive stone Officers’ Quarters was built in 1845. The military occupied the site until 1856.