|Destination # 15: Kingston, ON
Mileage: 250k (from London)
Arrive: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Depart: Saturday, July 16, 2011
• Wednesday, July 13
Depart the KOA Kampground in London at 8:30 am
Arrive at the Rideau Acres RV in Kingston at 2:30 pm. Very nice park right on Rideau Canal, lots of trees and grass, beautiful beach area and heated swimming pool (actually heated this time) and not too far from downtown Kingston
The first order of business is a drive into the downtown area to get a bit of an orientation of the area and find the Visitor’s Information Centre. Traffic is a nightmare but we finally find the Info Centre and stocked up on all the brochures we could find on what to do in Kingston and headed back to the RV park to plan our next day’s activities.
• Thursday, July 14
First on our agenda is the Confederation Trolley Tour. Taking off from the Tourist Information Centre right on the Confederation Basin Marina, highlights include driving past the Royal Military College, Fort Henry National Historic Site, Fort Frontenac, the various penitentiaries in Kingston, Portsmouth Olympic Harbour (home of the 1976 Olympic Sailing venue), Bellevue (one-time residence of Sir John A. Macdonald), Queen’s University and a general view of the historical parts of downtown Kingston. The tour was a wonderful orientation to Kingston and well worth doing.
Our next stop was the Kingston City Hall, a working city hall but also a National Historic Site. Our tour guide, Carol, was a very enthusiastic and informative hostess and a self-proclaimed Sir John A. “groupie”. Our tour took introduced us to many artifacts (including a desk that once belonged to Sir John A. when he was a lawyer), beautiful works of art and architectural features of the building which was built in the 1840’s and the exact site where Sir John A. laid in state after his death with an actual photograph to commemorate that event.
Bellevue House was next on our agenda. Although Sir John A. lived in this house for only a year with his ailing wife Isabella and their young son, John A. junior, Kingston has chosen this site to commemorate John A. Macdonald’s contribution to the development of Canada because of its unique architecture and place in Kingston’s history in its own rite.
Our last stop for the day was a visit to Canada’s Penitentiary Museum. Located in the original Kingston Penitentiary Warden’s residence built in 1873 directly across from the Kingston Penitentiary, the museum showcases the history of Canada’s federal penitentiary system. Man, talk about cruel and unusual punishments – its hard to imagine who could come up with some of this stuff but very interesting to learn about all the same. There were also interesting displays on inventive methods of escape/attempted escape tried by prisoners over the years and the history of women’s prisons. Admission was by donation only and was well worth our time.
A couple of margaritas at a shady water front patio and its home to put our feet up and recuperate for the next day.
• Friday, July 15
Our morning is spent at Fort Henry, another Historic Site of Canada. The fort was built in the 1830s to defend the recently completed Rideau Canal on the site (Point Henry) of the original Fort Henry built to defend against American aggression during the War of 1812. It is an engineering marvel which is showcased by people dressed in authentic period uniforms and participating in the authentic routines of the day, marching drills, the firing of the cannon at noon, etc. The guided tour through the fort is extremely interesting and truly gives us the flavour of what it must have been like for the soldiers who lived there.
Our evening is spent wondering the downtown core among the crowds there to enjoy the annual Kingston Busker Festival. We finish our day by listening to some excellent music (by local talent) at the RCHO club, a social club, much like the Legion, which is open to the public.
This is our last day in Kingston. The weather throughout our stay has been sunny and pleasantly cool in the mornings but turning very hot in the afternoons. Our spot in the RV Park, however, is right in the trees, wonderfully shady and always cool – great place to come home to each day after soaking up all the history and local atmosphere.