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Murney Tower, Kingston
The Prince George Hotel

Kingston, Ontario is a Canadianmarker city located in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario, where Lake Ontariomarker runs into the St. Lawrence Rivermarker and the Thousand Islandsmarker begin.

Kingston is the county seat of Frontenac County. According to the2006 Canadian census, the population of the city proper was 117,207, while the population of the metropolitan area was 152,358.

Kingston is nicknamed the "Limestone City" because of the many historic buildings built from the local limestone.


The Frenchmarker originally settled upon a traditional Mississaugas First Nation site called Katerokwi (Cataraqui in the common transliteration, and according to French pronunciation rules should be said "kah-tah-RAH-kee," although it is generally pronounced "kah-tah-ROCK-way") in 1673 and established Fort Cataraqui, later to be called Fort Frontenacmarker. The fort was captured and destroyed by the Britishmarker in the Battle of Fort Frontenacmarker during the Seven Years' War in 1758. A receiving centre for fleeing refugees from the American Revolution some years later, Kingston became the primary community of south-eastern Upper Canada.

New settlement from the United Empire Loyalists (UEL) and Mohawks from the Six Nations in New Yorkmarker, led by Molly Brant (the sister of Six Nations Leader Joseph Brant - Tyendinega), formed a significant part of an expanding population in the area at the end of the 18th century.

During the War of 1812, Kingston was the base for the Lake Ontario division of the Great Lakesmarker British naval fleet which engaged in a vigorous arms race with the American fleet based at Sackett's Harbor, New Yorkmarker for control of Lake Ontario. After the war, Britain built Fort Henrymarker and a series of distinctive Martello towers to guard the entrance to the Rideau Canalmarker. All still exist, and Fort Henry is a popular tourist attraction. In 2007, the Rideau Canal and the fortifications at Kingston were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kingston's location at the Rideau Canal entrance to Lake Ontario, after canal construction was completed in 1832, made it the primary military and economic centre of Upper Canada. Incorporated as a town in 1838, the first mayor of Kingston was Thomas Kirkpatrick. Kingston had the largest population of any centre in Upper Canada until the 1840s. Kingston was incorporated as a city in 1846.

Kingston was chosen as the first capital of the united Canadas and served in that role from 1841 to 1844. The first meeting of the Parliament of the United Canadas on June 13, 1841 was held on the site of what is now Kingston General Hospitalmarker. The city was considered too small and lacking in amenities, however, and its location made it vulnerable to American attack. Consequently, the capital was moved to alternating locations in Montreal and Toronto, and then later to Ottawamarker in 1857. Subsequently, Kingston's growth slowed considerably and its national importance declined.

Kingston was the home of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Kingston remained an important Great Lakes port and a centre for shipbuilding and locomotive manufacturing, including the Canadian Locomotive Company, at one time the largest locomotive works in the British Empire. Most heavy industry has now left the city, and employment is now primarily in the institutional, military, and service/retail sectors.

Kingston grew moderately through the 20th century through a series of annexations of lands in adjacent Kingston Township, including a 1952 annexation of some 5,500 acres which encompassed areas west to the Little Cataraqui creek (including the village of Portsmouth), where a number of large residential subdivisions were built in the late 1950s and early '60s.

Municipal governance had been a topic of discussion since the mid-1970s due to financial imbalance between the city and the surrounding townships, which now had large residential areas and a population approaching that of the city proper. On January 1, 1998, the City was amalgamated with Kingston Township and Pittsburgh Townshipmarker to form a new City of Kingston. The city's boundaries now encompass large rural areas north of Highway 401 and east of the Cataraqui River.

The term "Cataraqui", from the original native name for Kingston, today refers to an area around the intersection of Princess Street and Sydenham Road where a village that later took the name was located. Cataraqui is also the name of a municipal electoral district.

Kingston's military history

Kingston, being strategically located at the head of the St. Lawrence Rivermarker and at the mouth of the Cataraqui River near the border with the United Statesmarker, has been a site of vital military importance since Fort Frontenacmarker was built in 1673. The French and British established military garrisons here, and several defensive fortifications were constructed. Military shipbuilding has also been a part of Kingston's history. Camp Barriefield, now McNaughton Barracks, was constructed at the beginning of the First World War and expanded during the Second World War. Camp Barriefield was named in honour of Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Barrie (May 5, 1774 – June 7, 1841), who was a British naval officer noted for his service in the War of 1812. Vimy Barracks was established in 1937 for the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (later the Royal Canadian School of Signals). A military aerodromemarker was constructed to the west of Kingston to support flying training during the Second World War.

Kingston's military units and facilities are supported by Canadian Forces Base Kingston (CFB Kingstonmarker). Vimy and McNaughton Barracks, which are located east of Kingston's downtown, today house the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics (CFSCE), the Canadian Forces' military communications training centre and several other units. Other establishments include Fort Frontenacmarker located on the site of the original fort, and the Royal Military College of Canadamarker located on Point Frederick.


Kingston's economy relies heavily on public sector institutions and establishments. The most important sectors are related to health care, education (Queen's Universitymarker and the Royal Military College of Canadamarker), government (including the military and correctional services), tourism and culture. Manufacturing, and research and development play a smaller role although they played a larger role in the past. (One of Kingston's major industrial employers of the 20th century, the Canadian Locomotive Company, is long closed. The former Alcan and DuPont operations employ far fewer people than in the past.)

A wind farm, the Wolfe Island Wind Projectmarker opened in June 2009. The wind farm starts a new trend by creating green jobs.


According to the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, in a 2007 report, the 20 largest employers in Kingston were:


Highway 401, which runs north of the city, is the principal access route into Kingston. The first sections of the highway in the Kingston area were opened in 1958, although it was not fully completed for another ten years. From the south, Interstate 81 connects with Highway 401 east of Kingston. Seasonal ferry service from Cape Vincent, New York, via Wolfe Island, into downtown Kingston is an alternate route to and from the United States.

VIA Rail corridor service connects Kingston along the main line between Windsor, Ontariomarker and Quebec Citymarker. By air, Kingston is served by Norman Rogers Airportmarker with Air Canada Jazz providing regular service to Torontomarker only. Coach Canada provides service from the Kingston Bus Terminal to Torontomarker and Montrealmarker.

Kingston Transit provides local municipal bus service.


Kingston has developed a thriving artistic and entertainment life. The city hosts several festivals during the year, including the Limestone City Blues Festival, the Kingston Canadian Film Festival, Fanfayr, the Kingston Buskers' Rendezvous, Kingston Jazz Festival, Reelout Film Festival and Feb Fest.

Kingston is home to many artists who work in visual arts, media arts, literature, and a growing number who work in other time-based disciplines such as performance art. The contemporary arts scene in particular has two long standing professional non-profit venues in the downtown area, the Agnes Etherington Art Centremarker (founded 1957), and Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre (founded 1977). Local artists often participate in the exhibition programming of each organization, while each also presents the work of artists from across Canada and around the world - inkeeping with their educational mandates. Alternative venues for the presentation of exhibition programs in Kingston include The Union Gallery (Queen's University's student art gallery), Verb Gallery, Open Studio 22, the Kingston Arts Council gallery, and The Artel: Arts Accommodations and Venue.

Writers who are or have been residents of Kingston include Steven Heighton, Bronwen Wallace, Helen Humphreys, Joanne Page, Diane Schoemperlen, Eric Folsom, Michael Crummey, Melanie Dugan, Mary Alice Downie, Robertson Davies, Douglas Fetherling, Wayne Grady, Merilyn Simonds, Ellen Stafford, Alec Ross, Jamie Swift, Carolyn Smart and Alexander Scala.

Music and theatre venues include the Grand Theatre , and The Wellington Street Theatre, which host performances from international, national, and local groups like Domino Theatre, Theatre Kingston, Hope Theatre Projects, Bottle Tree Productions, and other small groups that dot the downtown area. The Kingston Symphony Orchestra performs at The Grand Theatre, as do several amateur and semi-professional theatre groups. The K-Rock Centremarker, a 5800-seat entertainment venue and ice rink, opened in February 2007.

The city has spawned several musicians and musical groups, most of whom are known mainly within Canada, but a few of whom have achieved international success. These include John Kay, lead singer, harmonica player, and occasional guitarist of the heavy metal late 60s/early 70s band Steppenwolf, members of The Tragically Hip, The Mahones, jazz singer Andy Poole, Bedouin Soundclash, Sarah Harmer, The Arrogant Worms, The Headstones, The Inbreds, and David Usher, formerly of Moist.

Kingston is also the birth place of Bryan Adams. Singer Avril Lavigne, from nearby Napaneemarker, began her career after gaining notice singing at a Kingston fair and bookstore. The first winner of the television series Canadian Idol was Kingston native Ryan Malcolm.

Poet Michael Andre was raised in Kingston, and actor Dan Aykroyd makes his home near Kingston. Zal Yanovsky of The Lovin' Spoonful lived in Kingston until his death on December 13, 2002.


Kingston is the site of two universities, Queen's Universitymarker and the Royal Military College of Canadamarker, and a major community college, St. Lawrence Collegemarker. According to Statistics Canada, Kingston has the most PhD-holders per capita of any city in Canada.

Queen's University

Queen's Universitymarker is one of Canada's oldest universities and offers a variety of degree programs. The university was founded in 1841 under royal charter from Queen Victoria. It currently has an enrollment of more than 13,000 undergraduate and 4,000 graduate students.

Royal Military College of Canada

The Royal Military College of Canadamarker, established in 1876, is Canada's only military university (Collège Militaire Royal in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebecmarker being a military CEGEP), providing academic and leadership training to officer cadets and other members of Canada's armed forces. There are currently 1,100 under-graduate students with a further 500 full and part-time graduate students.

St. Lawrence College

St. Lawrence Collegemarker offers baccalaureate degree programs at its Kingston campus, in behavioural psychology, industrial trades, microelectronics, nursing and business administration (the latter via a partnership with Laurentian Universitymarker), in addition to certificate, diploma, and advanced diploma programs.

Primary and secondary education

The Limestone District School Board serves students in the counties of Frontenac and Lennox and Addington. Along with the Limestone School of Community Education, which provides adult education and training programs, approximately 23,000 students attend 56 elementary and 12 secondary schools. The Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board serves students of the Roman Catholic faith. Approximately 15,000 students attend 36 elementary schools and 5 secondary schools in this school district. The francophone community is served by two school boards, the Conseil des écoles publiques de l'est de l'Ontario and the Conseil des écoles catholiques de langue française du centre-est, each providing one secondary school in the area.

Local secondary schools:

Geography and climate

Kingston is located at (44.22, −76.48), and is located in hardiness zone 5. Kingston has a moderate humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa), similar to that of the inland Mid-Atlantic States and the lower Great Lakes portion of the Midwestern United States. The region has warm, humid summers and cold winters. Extreme heat and cold usually occur for short periods. It is considered a temperate climate when compared with most of continental Canada. In the fall and winter, temperatures are moderated by the delayed cooling of the Great Lakesmarker and conversely delayed warming occurs on spring days. The lakes moderating effects allow for a longer growing season than areas at similar latitudes in the continent's interior. Both spring and fall are generally pleasantly mild, with cool nights. Annual precipitation ranges from 75-100 centimeters (30–40 in) and is well distributed throughout the year with a usual summer peak. The area usually receives less snow than most of Canada because of the shorter, milder winter.

The central part of the city is located between the Cataraqui Rivermarker to the east and the Little Cataraqui Creekmarker to the West, with outlying areas extending in both directions. The western part of the city is accessible by the La Salle Causewaymarker on Highway 2.

Kingston has a picturesque waterfront. Major features include Flora MacDonald Confederation Basin, Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, Collins Baymarker, Wolfe Islandmarker, Garden Islandmarker, the Cataraqui Rivermarker (including the Inner Harbourmarker and, within that, Anglin Bay).

Notable annual waterfront events include the CORK sailing regatta, the Kingston Dragon Boat Festival, and the Thousand Islands Poker Run.

Cities and towns nearby

North West
Tweed 89.6 km
Tamworthmarker 55.7 km

Enterprisemarker 50.2 km ||
Elginburg 10 km
Sydenhammarker 20 km

Westportmarker 50 km

Sharbot Lakemarker 65 km

North East

Ottawamarker 150 km

Brockvillemarker 75 km

Amherst Islandmarker 11 km

Amherstviewmarker 12 km

Odessamarker 14 km

Bathmarker 23 km

Napaneemarker 37 km

Bellevillemarker 70 km


East >
Howe Islandmarker 12 km

Gananoquemarker 28 km

Clayton, New York 32 km
Alexandria Bay, New Yorkmarker 47 km

Pictonmarker 58 km

Prince Edward Countymarker
South West

Lake Ontariomarker

Syracuse, New Yorkmarker 134 km

Wolfe Islandmarker 5 km

Cape Vincent , New Yorkmarker 16 km

Watertown, New Yorkmarker 53 km

Jefferson County, New Yorkmarker
South East

Major parks nearby

North West
Sharbot Lake Prov Park
Bon Echo Prov Parkmarker

Algonquin Prov Parkmarker|

Gould Lake Cons. Area
Frontenac Prov Parkmarker

Holleford cratermarker

Silver Lake Prov Parkmarker

Murphys Point Prov Parkmarker

Trans Canada Trail
Rideau Trail

North East
Charleston Lake Prov Park
Rideau River Prov Park

Stoco Fen Prov Nature Reserve

Lemoine Point C.A.
Lake Ontario Parkmarker

Little Cataraqui Creek C.A. ||
East >
St. Lawrence Islands National Parkmarker

Lake On The Mountain Prov Parkmarker

Timber Island Prov Nature Reserve
Sandbanks Prov Park
South West|

Lake Ontariomarker


Adirondack Park, New York
South East


See also the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame


Although contested, Kingston lays claim to being the birthplace of ice hockey. This is supported by a journal entry of a British Army officer in Kingston in 1843. He wrote "Began to skate this year, improved quickly and had great fun at hockey on the ice.". Kingston is also home to the oldest continuing hockey rivalry in the world by virtue of a game played in 1886 between Queen's Universitymarker and the Royal Military College of Canadamarker.

Kingston is represented in the OHL by the Kingston Frontenacs, and in OPJHL by the Kingston Voyageurs. The Frontenacs are coached by Kingston native Doug Gilmour.

The International Hockey Hall of Famemarker, established in 1943 with a building constructed in 1965, is located in Kingston, near the Kingston Memorial Centre. New to the city is the K-Rock Centremarker, located in the downtown core. The arena opened in February 2008.

Several NHL players, coaches and personalities have been associated with Kingston including:


The city is famous for its fresh-water sailing, and hosted the sailing events for the 1976 Summer Olympics. CORK — Canadian Olympic-training Regatta, Kingston — now hosted by CORK/Sail Kingston Inc. is still held every August. Since 1972, Kingston has hosted more than 40 World and Olympic sailing championships. Kingston is listed by a panel of experts among the best yacht racing venues in the USA, even though Kingston is, of course, in Canada.

Kingston sits amid excellent cruising and boating territory, with easy access to Lake Ontariomarker, the St. Lawrence Rivermarker, and the Thousand Islandsmarker including the St. Lawrence Islands National Parkmarker.

Kingston is also home to the youth sail training ship called the St-Lawrence 2.

During the summers, the RMC campus in Kingston plays host to a Sea Cadet camp called HMCS Ontario, which provides sail training along with lots of other training to youth from across Canada. The Kingston Yacht Club located in downtown Kingston has a learn to sail program for both children and adults.


Kingston is a well-known destination for fresh-water wreck diving. Some of Kingston's wrecks can be classed among the best fresh water wrecks in the world. Kingston's wrecks are well preserved by its cool fresh water, and the recent zebra mussel invasion has caused a drastic improvement in water clarity that has enhanced the quality of diving in the area.

See also the List of Shipwrecks of Kingston Ontario.


The Kingston area is well known for its fine golf courses and for the many strong players it has produced. The Kingston Golf Club, established in 1884, was a founding member of the Royal Canadian Golf Association in 1895. The first winner of the Amateur Canadian Golf Championship that same year was Kingstonian Thomas Harley, a Scottish emigre carpenter. Dick Green was the longtime club professional for nearly 40 years at Cataraqui Golf and Country Clubmarker, which has one of Canada's top courses (designed by Stanley Thompson). Green, a superb player and teacher, also designed several courses in Eastern Ontario, including Smiths Falls, Glen Lawrence, Amherstview, Garrison, Rivendell, and Colonnade. Matt McQuillan, now a professional player on the Canadian Tour, was born and raised in Kingston, and developed his game at the Garrison Golf and Curling Club. McQuillan won the 2005 Telus Edmontonmarker Open.


The Royal Kingston Curling Club is one of Canada's oldest. It was founded in 1820, and was granted Royal patronage in 1993. In 2006, the RKCC moved to a new facility, to make way for the construction of a new complex at Queen's University, the Queen's Centre.


The Kingston Panthers R.F.C, recently celebrated their fortieth anniversary with an EORU championship in the Division 1 championship game at Twin Elms Rugby Pitch in Ottawa, Ontario.


According to the 2006 census, there were 152,358 people residing in the Kingston Census Metropolitan Area, of whom 48.7% were male and 51.3% were female. Children under five accounted for approximately 4.8% of the resident population of Kingston. This compares with 5.5% in Ontario.

In 2001, 14.1% of the resident population in Kingston were of retirement age (65 and over) compared with 13.2% in Canadamarker. As a result, the average age is 38.1 years of age as compared to 37.6 years of age for all of Canada. Kingston has a reputation as a suitable place for retirees to settle.

In the five years between 1996 and 2001, the population of Kingston grew by 1.6%, compared with an increase of 6.1% for Ontariomarker as a whole. Population density of Kingston averaged 77.0 people per square kilometre, compared with an average of 12.6 people per square kilometre for Ontario altogether.

The population of Kingston shows significant turnover because of its relatively large student population (about 10%) and the number of military residents associated with Canadian Forces Base Kingston.

According to the Government of Canada 2006 census, 94.2% of the population were Caucasian; of the visible minorities, 1.7% were Chinese, 1.2% were South Asian, and 0.8% were black.

Detailed socio-demographic analysis and information about Kingston can be found in the Kingston Community Profile, 2009: A Socio-Demographic Analysis of Kingston, Ontario Canada published by the Social Planning Council of Kingston and Area (SPCKA).

Religious belief

Notable residents

Corrections Canada

Kingston has the largest concentration of federal correctional facilities in Canada. Of the nine institutions located in the Kingston area, seven of them are located within the municipal boundaries of the city.
  • Kingston Penitentiarymarker (maximum security)
  • Regional Treatment Centre (multi-level security), co-located within Kingston Penitentiary
  • Joyceville Institution (medium security)
  • Pittsburgh Institution (minimum security), co-located with Joyceville
  • Collins Bay Institution (medium security)
  • Frontenac Institution (minimum security), co-located with Collins Bay
  • Isabel McNeil House (minimum security), transitional facility for women inmates

Millhaven Institution (maximum security), and Bath Institution (medium security), are located in the nearby village of Bathmarker.

Until 2000, Canada's only federal correctional facility for women, the Prison For Women (nicknamed "P4W") was also located in Kingston. As a result of the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, the facility was closed in 2000. Queen's University purchased the property with the intention of renovating it to house the Queen's Archives, but the interior of the building was awarded a heritage designation and Queen's lost the ability to renovate the interior and is currently considering its options.


Queen's campus radio, CFRC-FM, is one of the oldest radio stations in Canada.

See also

Sister cities

Related Wikipedia articles


  1. About The City of Kingston
  2. Statistics Canada 2006 Census for Kingston
  6. "Directory of Canadian Universities - RMC"
  8. Scuttlebutt News Center: Best Racing Venues in the US
  9. Statistics Canada 2006 Census for Kingston Metropolitan Area
  10. Kingston Community Profile 2009: A Socio-Demographic Analysis of Kingston,Ontario,Canada

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