I learned something about how I was seeing Canada and avoiding winter exploration and I think that I am not alone. The city of Kingston in Ontario sits approximately half way between Montreal, Quebec and Toronto, Ontario. Except that it has Queens University and Kingston Penitentiary I never thought much about it. For me it was a place I went on occasion to deliver furniture, or a stop on a bus route going somewhere else. I remember when stopping there on the bus it represented an hour of doing nothing, with little in the way of places to eat accessible from where the bus stopped and even less to see. What drew me there this time was the single tax and the need to buy a new 4 in one computer.( fax, copier, scanner and printer).
As is usually the case I got to Kingston knowing what stores I wanted to look in, but not where they were and so decided to go to follow the tourist information signs and get a map of Kingston and some direction to the shopping malls. Well the signs kept taking me deeper into Kingston and further away from the 401 highway. The first thing that I saw was a mall, but it seemed to be full of stores selling clothing and on the other side of the street the buildings for Queens University and signs directing me past them and straight ahead to tourist information. I pressed on and the further I got the more the scenery started to change. The buildings started to get older and I noticed that I was nearing the water. There was a park with a huge statue of Sir John A, McDonald and canons and it took all of my will power and self – discipline, not to jump out and explore this park. I told myself that I would return later and that the need for that piece of office equipment out weighed my need to explore and take pictures. Kingston penitentiary was now directly in front of me looking like some big castle sitting at the water’s edge and I almost jumped out of the van to take some pictures, but again I pressed on.
As the houses became older and I started to see that I was on cobblestone streets I realised that I was now in old Kingston and it was very much like the old port of Montreal, complete with its port and old hotels, its blending of old and new, big ships of which there was only one looking out-of-place frozen in the ice, a tourist attraction I was guessing. then an old black locomotive train came into view with a sign in front of a little building saying, Kingston Station, tourist information and souvenirs.
Inside this building was one of the most charming gentleman and he was more than happy to tell me where to find what I was looking for. He highlighted where I should go on a map and chuckled when I asked where the malls were located in the city and said, “The mall is on Gardner”, indicating to me that this was a one big mall town. He quickly told us of the walking tours and trails and suggested that I come back come back when the weather was a little better; it was minus 32 degrees with the wind chill factored in that morning.
It was an hour later before I finished taking the few pictures of the sites in the immediate area, like the water and the city hall that used house the farmers market ; the Prince George Hotel. I reluctantly pulled myself away with a mental promise to return pn another day and take the time to explore Kingston and all of it’;s treasures properly. I did get my office equipment the mall was located just a few minutes from the 401. I will take pictures of the penitentiary and the correctional museum when I return in less frigid weather.
I will never sell another small city, or town short again and I will never sell winter short either. Winter will never slow my love of exploring new places again. If you get the chance to visit Kingston stop by the old section and go to the tourist information you will find all that you need there and a very friendly person with a ready smile to help you with anything you need to know. In closing I would just like to give Kingston a 5 star rating for friendliness and great service. Every store I went in and every person I met on the street were friendly, and charming. I know of a few cities and their people that could take a few pointers from the city of Kingston on how to treat people visiting their cities.