Kingston, almost exactly halfway between Canada's two largest cities, Toronto and Montreal, is beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Ontario. It offers not only spectacular sailing and water sports but also a wonderful combination of the old and the new. It is a vibrant city, home to 120,000 and thousands more of tourists. Home of Upper Canada's capital in the nineteenth century, Kingston has preserved its heritage while integrating the new.
Traveling from the west, skip the fastest route on Highway 401; get off at Trenton and take Highway 33, the Loyalist Parkway, a lovely, meandering drive through Consecon, Hillier, Bloomfield, Picton, and Bath. The extra two hours are well worth it as you take in shoreline vistas, vineyards, stately mansions and historical homesteads and churches. As a bonus, there is a free, four-times-an-hour fifteen minute scenic ferry between Glenora, immediately east of Picton, and Adolphustown. The Loyalist Parkway is a nice prelude to the city of Kingston as are the impressive prisons of Collins Bay and Millhaven just to the west.
Kingston offers a veritable treasure-trove of interesting sites from historical Fort Henry, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to relaxing and scenic cruises. Fort Henry provides an authentic glimpse into nineteenth century military life and offers a fabulous view of the downtown area. The summer Sunset Ceremony, complete with a military band, is not to be missed.
Begin your tour at Confederation Park. With the water and Shoal Tower behind, view the Park, opened in 1967. The arch and fountain symbolize Canada united as one nation from sea to sea. On the north side of Ontario Street sits Kingston City Hall, built between 1841 and 1843 when Kingston was the capital of the United Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. It's one of Canada's finest examples of the era's architecture. Kingston. (Kingston boasts several spectacular Italian Villas including Bellevue, now a museum and once the home of P.M., Sir John A. MacDonald.) Immediately behind the City Hall is a very lively Farmer's Market offering a rich assortment of produce and crafts.
Everywhere, elegant building façades abound, particularly churches. St. George's Cathedral on Wellington Street includes a Gothic-style Great Hall, Tuscan porticos, a bell tower, and a dome modeled after St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The beautiful interior, renovated in 1975 on the 150th anniversary of the church, is worth a visit. Chalmers United Church, St. Mary's Cathedral, and St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church speak to Kingston's rich ecclesiastical and architectural legacy.
The County Court House is impressive in size and grandeur. Two hotels, The Prince George and the Frontenac, deservedly attract photographs. A short list of observable buildings includes Gildersleeve House, Cartwright House, the Whig-Standard Building, the Kingston Brewing Co., the Rosemount Inn and the Customs House. The stately buildings of Queen's University, particularly Grant Hall, are impressive.
Getting around in Kingston is easy. Museums and historical sites are within easy walking distance. The downtown comes alive at night with a plethora of lively pubs, bistros, and restaurants. Deftly balancing the old and the new, Kingston is a delight for any visitor.
Nick Brune is an historian who has written for a wide group of organizations, including C.B.C. News in Review, The Dominion Institute (The Memory Project, Passages to Canada, etc.), the Hong Kong Commemorative Veterans Association (The Forgotten Heroes), and Elections Canada (The Democracy Project). He has co-authored more than half a dozen history textbooks for elementary and high schools. Nick loves to travel, having visited Europe several times, China, the Caribbean several times, Korea, and several visits throughout Canada and the United States.
Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/