The following is my article I wrote for Power Cruising Magazine July/August 2005 edition. It was my first free lance article outside of the work I do for Circumnavigator Magazine. Near the bottom of this page there is a link to see the article as it actually appeared in Power Cruising once it made it's way to the editing department.
THE LIMESTONE CITY
KINGSTON, ONTARIO Freshwater Sailing Capital of North America
“You’ll Be Amazed” -Slogan
Water, water, everywhere. Kingston is a boater’s paradise where three bodies of water converge, located on the northeastern shore of Lake Ontario, accessing the southernmost part of the Rideau Canal and the last major port before you enter the St. Lawrence River. Kingston is nicknamed the Limestone City not only because of its abundance of limestone deposits, but the many 19th century historical buildings and museums built with this limestone. There is beauty all around, not to mention the heritage, which comes to life in attractions such as historic Fort Henry and Bellevue House. The city has more than 17 museums and over 200 restaurants, pubs, and cafes with dining for any discriminating palate. Canada’s oldest continuously operating farmers market can be found behind City Hall in Market Square
Kingston was the first capital of the Province of Canada from 1841 to 1844 before Canada became confederated in 1867. Sir John A. Macdonald, one of the strongest voices of confederation, became Canada’s first Prime Minister. Sir John A. Macdonald lived in Bellevue House for 13 months, and it is now a national historic site. Bellevue House was built in the 1840s of Italianate architecture and had a peaceful view of Lake Ontario. Staff dressed in periodic costume, will guide you though the house. There is a visitor’s center on site, with exhibits, gift shop and videos on Macdonald’s life.
Kingston’s biggest attraction, Fort Henry, dominates the approach by water. This 19th century British Military fortress was built from 1832-1837 to replace an existing fort from the war of 1812 and to protect the naval dockyard at the entrance to the Rideau Canal and Kingston. There are daily events in the summer months, but you won’t want to miss the Sunset Ceremonies that take place every Wednesday evening during the months of July and August. The highlight of the summer happens when the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corp join the Fort Henry Guard Drum for a musical performance. This special event is set for August 21st and 22nd so be sure to make reservations in advance. There are special dinner packages served by soldier servants in the officers’ dining room. The dinner and a show package include admission to the sunset ceremonies and have full bar service. If you want to dine a bit more casual there is an outdoor barbeque available for $9.99 plus admission to the ceremonies. The Soldiers Canteen is open daily for light snacks and is licensed. (licensed means that the establishment is licensed under the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to sell wine, beer and spirits.)
photo credit: www.FortHenry.com
Getting to Kingston is easy. Marinas are plentiful with at least eight in the immediate area. There are three major ones with slips from 250 to 425. The biggest is the Flora MacDonald Confederation Basin Marina located in front of City hall and closest to the heart of downtown historic Kingston. It boasts 425 slips and 320 transient slips and is staffed 24 hours per day. If you decide on this marina, be sure to have a full tank of fuel, as it is not available here. Portsmouth Olympic Harbor Marina has 300 slips, 50 of which are transient. Portsmouth Olympic Harbor Marina was constructed for the 1976 Summer Olympics, and is located in the hub of Portsmouth Village. This marina is more relaxed with many nearby parks and a short walk to Bellevue House. It is also home to the Canadian Olympic Training Regatta of Kingston (CORK) held every August. Collins Bay Marina is eight miles west from the center of downtown and is located in the sheltered harbor of Collins Bay. Just beware of the shallows on the right side of the shore when entering the bay. Collins Bay Marina has 300 slips with 50 reserved for transients and claims to have the cleanest washrooms and showers. All three of these marinas have a customs check in point*
Collins Bay Marina, Confederation Basin Marina, Kingston Cruises at Confederation Place
Kingston is a diver’s paradise, with its cool waters preserving the wrecks. There are more than 14 wrecks in Kingston with hundreds more nearby, many of which have not yet been found. The invasion of zebra mussels cleaned up the waters and improved visibility, but you will find wrecks covered with them. One of the most popular is the Wolfe Islander II. The Canadian Government built it in 1946 as a gift to China, but Canada changed their minds when China became communist. It then became a car ferry between Kingston and Wolfe Island for almost 30 years. It was intentionally sunk in September 1985 as Ontario’s first artificial reef and diving site. The Wolfe Islander III currently operates daily as a free ferry service to Wolfe Island. There are many amenities in the area for any level of diver. These include charters, classes, rentals, and air fills.
Once you step foot on land you will find that Kingston is transportation friendly. From its all-day bus passes to the Confederation Tour Trolley. The all-day bus pass is $5, which covers one adult and two children. The daily pass will give you special perks at some museums. The other option is the trolley, which has been in operation since Kingston’s centennial celebration in 1967. This is a great way to become familiar with the Kingston area. The 50-minute tour operates every hour on the hour and leaves from the tourist information center at Confederation Park.
Trolley photo credit: KEDCO
If you come prepared with bicycles on board, there are marked paths throughout the city. If a little exercise is what you desire, there is a two-hour self-guided walking tour, which might lead you to some quaint little out-of-the-way shops. S&R department store has been in operation for almost 50 years with four floors of everything imaginable, including free refreshments and an elevator operator to point you in the right direction. Pick up their weekly flyer at the tourist information office.To fulfill that sweet tooth, you might want to try a fresh butter tart from a local bakery. By all means don’t pass up a cheese shop, as you will want to try curds. Curds are the small curly bits of cheese that separate from the liquid or whey in the beginning of the cheese making process. If you find the right shop, you will also be able to purchase whey butter. It will be the best butter you ever tasted. Now you know what little Miss Muffet was eating on her tuffet! She must have been visiting Kingston!
S&R Department Store - 4 floors of everything!
The most noticeable landmarks around Kingston’s harbor are the Martello towers. The towers were built in the early 1840s to protect the harbor when tensions escalated with the United States. The towers have walls up to 15 feet thick and the snow roof was built to slide off easily to expose the huge cannons. One of the towers, Murney Tower, has been operating as a museum since 1925. In the tower you can view a collection of 19th century Kingston artifacts.
Top photo: Martello Tower at Confederation Basin Marina. Bottom photos: Murney Tower Museum, Bicycle Paths at Murney Tower
A visit to the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes will help you discover the rich shipping history of the Great lakes. The largest artifact in the Marine Museum collection is the 3,000-ton Coast Guard ice breaking ship Alexander Henry. The Alexander Henry provided services on the upper Great Lakes until it was retired in 1984. It also doubles as a bed and breakfast with the proceeds going towards restoration and upkeep. You can even reserve the entire ship for a night with rustic accommodations for 110 people. Research can be done at the libraries and archives in the museum and there are many educational and training programs available. The museum offers galleries, a blacksmith shop, gift shops and a seasonal waterside café and picnic area. A short walk from the Marine Museum is the Pump House steam museum. The Pump House was Kingston’s first water pumping station built in 1849 of classic Victorian architecture to give the city fresh drinking water and enough water to fight fires with. The Frontenac Society of Model Engineers restored it in 1973 as a city of Kingston centennial project. Call ahead for dates of the live steam weekends.
The changing leaves of fall put on a spectacular show of color and the lake is a little less traveled. The Haunted Walk Tours will get you in the spirit of the season, while enjoying the cool crisp air of Kingston by lantern-light. Don’t let the prices in Canada scare you either. Your U.S. dollar is worth more and can be exchanged at any local bank and trust company. Before you even leave port, you will be planning your next visit back as there is always something new and exciting in Kingston that will amaze you.
Canadian hydrographic charts 2017, 1439, 14802
www.cityofkingston.ca/visitors/marinas/index.asp: Marina Reservations
www.collinsbaymarina.com: Collins Bay Marina
www.marmus.ca: Marine Museum of the Great Lakes
Haunted Walk of Kingston:
www.ecophotoexplorers.com/kingston.asp: Scuba Diving
Minos Restaurant: One of the best in Kingston
www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel/canpass/canpassprivateboat-e.html : *Info for private boaters entering Canada
KINGSTON REVIEWS- Mino's Place Restaurant, Lone Star Texas Grill and Howard Johnson Confederation Place Hotel
Mino's on the left, S&R department store in the background, Howard Johnson right front and behind that is Lone Star Texas Grill with the flag on top.
HOWARD JOHNSON CONFEDERATION PLACE HOTEL*****
237 Ontario Street
The Howard Johnson Confederation Hotel is centrally located in downtown Kingston, overlooking the waterfront and Confederation Basin Marina and Park. There is an on-site restaurant and lounge, WJ's which is now featuring a seafood buffet on the third Friday of every month, with live entertainment. They have a seasonal out-door pool and we did notice a nice indoor whirlpool. The service was fantastic, rooms were clean and our stay was enjoyable. There is limited free underground parking. The parking was very tight, but at least we found a spot and did not have to use the public parking across the street, as it rained all weekend. I am sure we would have enjoyed our stay more, had it been summer.
LONE STAR TEXAS GRILL*****
After arriving Friday night, we decided to go next door to the Lone Star Texas Grill. There was a line-up out the door. They said we could go to the upstairs lounge and wait, but we were hungry. It was very noisy, and we just wanted a quiet dinner, so we went across the street to Mino's. Saturday we went back to the Lone Star Texas Grill. It was a little less crowded and after a brief wait at the bar, we got a table. We both enjoyed a sirloin steak sandwich, and some onion straws. Despite the noisy atmosphere, the food was good.
MINOS PLACE RESTAURANT - DOWNTOWN*****
Photo credit: www.Minos1.com
Mino's downtown Restaurant was a pleasant surpise. We have now found our all time favorite place in the province of Ontario.In fact we had dinner here both nights, as it was so good. We had noticed the sign they had out front listing their daily specials. I'm always a big fan of surf and turf, and both nights they had some great specials. I had prime rib and lobster the first night, and steak and shrimp the next. Mino's specializes in Greek Cusine. The caesar salad was one of the best, and my husband enjoyed the pork souvlaki one night, and bacon wrapped filet, the next. He was sorry he didn't get to try their special lamb chops.
Mino's has 3 locations in Kingston. Mino's Place, downtown, Mino's Village Uptown (catering facilities) and Mino's Village Uptown for take-out. The downtown facility also offers takeout and even sells uncooked meats to take home and BBQ. You can also purchase a cup of their house or ceasar salad dressing. Both of which are really, really good!
Thank you to Heather Gregg of Kingston Economic Development Corporation(KEDKO) for providing me with photos and heading me in the right direction and also to Connie Markle for the great accommodations at Howard Johnson Confederation Place Hotel.
The weather did not cooperate with us, as it rained all weekend. Unfortunaly we had to cancel the Haunted Walk of Kingston, as we were completely drenched from walking to the Marine Museum earlier in the day. Thank you to Gordon Robinson for the photos of the Marine Museum and to George our guide for coming out and giving us a tour on this cold and rainy day. In fact when we arrived in Kingston on Friday night there was still ice in the river. April is not the best time to take photos for a boating magazine, but it was a last minute assignment.
Thank you to Donna Lusk of the Bellevue House for her help. And a special Thank you to Anne-Marie Johnson and Laurie Boulianne(pictured below) for the wonderful and informative tour.
To read my article as it appeared in Power Cruising Click here
For page two
Photo credit: World Publications. Click on Magazine Cover to subscribe
Click here to return to DayTrippingOntario.com
© Copyright 2001-2006 DayTrippingOntario.com All photos on this page are property of daytrippingontario.com unless otherwise noted.