I have travelled all of my life and have never felt comfortable anywhere outside of Montreal. I make friends easy, but I always feel nervous and anxious and no matter how I try not to do it, I am always anticipating going home, instead of having a great time, so I never take vacations. I am always open to little trips where I can enjoy a town, city, or simply walk through a new park be it big or small. I wrote a story about my visit to Kingston in the winter and just how friendly and hospitable Kingston was. I had never been to a city where everyone that I happen to bump into was so cheerful and helpful. I noticed the parks, the museums, the prisons and the university, but because it was winter, cold and snowing I knew that I would not get to explore any of it and vowed to return and see it in all of its summertime splendour.
I did go into the information center down by the water, the one with the old train outside and across from the city hall building. Inside this information center I met a got help and info from the most delightful man, he gave me the directions I was seeking and talked about Kingston in the summertime in such away that it made you want to come back.
I was made to understand in a comment made on the post I wrote, by a person name Steve, that this charming man had another important job which he did during the summer and that he was the best there was at it and this was what Steve wrote, “You’ll definitely have to come back during the summer, since this is a tourist town and there will be plenty more things to do. In fact, if you happen to attend an event being opened by our Town Crier (crowned the world’s best this year, at a competition in the UK), then you may recognize him as that charming gentleman working in the tourist information station. “ I did and this is how the revisiting went.
I was coming down Bath Road admiring the city when slowed down by construction and I noticed a building that looked like a prison, but that had a garden attached to it so I decided to take a few pictures and look it up later and find out what it was. It turned out that I was looking at a minimum security prison for males, known as The Frontenac Institution, housing 136 inmates in an open environment, promoting trust, responsibility and accountability. It is also called the Collins Bay Farm Annex and it opened in 1972.
My next stop was the women’s prison which is now closed, but this is the prison that Karla Homolka served her sentence in. I took pictures of it and could not help but notice the guard towers, the barbwire and razor wire crowning the top of every wall, cold and beautiful just like some of the ladies that were housed there over the years. This building shared the grounds with the prison museum which was directly across from Kingston Penitentiary. All the parking lots advised you that you were on penitentiary grounds and as such were subject to be searched as well as your car at any time.
The Prison Museum and its grounds are something to see. Old stone benches, shaded grounds, make it look like anything but a prison, but the signs an placards tell a different story. Kingston has managed to turn the area into somewhat of a tourist attraction and everywhere are signs telling the history of the prisons. Looking out on the water I wondered what it must be like to see the ships and boats passing and hear the people in the parks laughing and know that you would possibly never get to enjoy any of that again? That had to be the hardest time of all. this saddened me a little and I decided to move on To KP, or Kingston Penitentiary.
While I was taking pictures of the museum and looking at Kingston Pen, known as KP a maximum security prison housing some of Canada’s worst prisoners, like Paul Bernardo I saw a lady come out of the main doors of KP and head right towards me. I had been taking a picture and assured her that she was not in it. She smiled looking toward KP and said,” An interesting building isn’t it?” To which I replied,” It is a beautiful building, although I know I would not want to live there.” The smile on her face was gone replaced by a frown and she said walking away,” I can assure you that it is not a beautiful place inside those walls.” I took a few more pictures of signage and the history of the prison and decided to dedicate the rest of my day to parks of which there are so many and all seemingly dedicated to our soldiers, both past and present.
Since I was standing right there I decided to look at the Portsmouth Harbour in the historic village of Portsmouth established in 1784. This harbor is managed by the city of Kingston and is a small craft harbour. I took pictures of the boat and walked through Portsmouth Olympic Park. I took a minute and enjoyed children at a day camp playing games with their councilors, but I did not take pictures of them I just watched and marvelled. These little kids were having so much fun in this park that is built on the roof of a building and I thought what a great use of space, what a wonderful idea.
As I looked across the water I saw the windmills and snapped a few pictures. Kingston was quickly becoming more than just a city of prisons to me and I was enjoying it very much. I next went to a park (known as City Park) with canons and statues honouring our dead war heroes and just was amazed by its size and its beauty tucked in neatly beside all of the medical buildings and from what I could see put to use by everyone for picnics and just a quiet relaxing time out doors.
Across the street was the Murney Tower Museum with its moats and canons and the grounds opening up to a beautiful walking park where people wishing to walk can do so on paved side-walk running along the water. The grounds are also home to the Gaskin Lion and I was unable to resist taking a picture with this majestic beast. I also visited the Naval Memorial Park, dedicated October 06 2003. It made me proud to see the attention and dedication to the lives of those who have in our past made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live as a free nation.
Next along my travels was The Kingston Dry Dock for 150 years it was one of the major shipyards. You get the sense of what happened there when you look at the Museum Ship Alexander Henry in dry dock. I did not take the tour as my time was running out, preferring to keep on exploring what the coastal trail had to offer and so I pushed on not realizing that just around the bend was where this trip all began.
Driving a little further I found myself where this all had begun standing across the from city hall in front of the information center where I had met the charming gentleman who had represented his city in such a way that I felt compelled to come back and see it in all of its summer splendor. There was a festival happening on the grounds and I walked through the displays and little shops drinking all of the excitement and things that were for sale. I did buy a painting and decided that I would stop in and see my friend and tell him that he had told the truth and I was glad that I had the chance to revisit his great city, but alas, he was not there and so I grabbed a bite to eat and headed for the high way and home to Montreal.
From the Costco where I bought my new video camera to the people in the ice cream parlour and the lady who sold me the paintings I would like to say what a delight you are, how courteous you are and how easy you made it for a person like me to spend a day in your city. I would encourage all who like to travel to spend at the very least one day in Kingston, Ontario. It is a great place for all members of the family to have a great clean time with some of the nicest people I have had the pleasure to meet. Out of 5 stars I give Kingston, Ontario and its people a 5 star rating. Bravo Kingston keep up the good work!