Samuel de CHAMPLAIN explored the region in 1615 and in 1673 the French constructed a fort and trading post on the site, Cataraqui, which developed into the elaborate FORT FRONTENAC.
KingstonKingston, Ont, incorporated as a city in 1846, population 123 363 (2011c), 117 207 (2006c). The City of Kingston is located at the eastern end of Lake ONTARIO, 175 km southwest of Ottawa. The former capital of the PROVINCE OF CANADA, its position at the junction of the GREAT LAKES and ST LAWRENCE RIVER has been crucial to its economic and political history.
Settlement and Development
Samuel de CHAMPLAIN explored the region in 1615 and in 1673 the French constructed a fort and trading post on the site, Cataraqui, which developed into the elaborate FORT FRONTENAC. It became an important base for mounting military forays against the Iroquois and the British to the south and explorations to the west along the Great Lakes. In 1758 the fort was captured by the British and the region was ceded to the British in 1763 by the TREATY OF PARIS.
In 1783, following the AMERICAN REVOLUTION, the British government negotiated with the local native peoples, the Mississauga, for lands on which to settle LOYALISTS, refugees from the American colonies. King's Town, as it was then named (in honour of King George III), was made the administrative centre of the new district (Mecklenberg) encompassing townships along the Upper St Lawrence and eastern end of Lake Ontario. Despite being the largest settlement in Upper Canada, Kingston was not selected as capital. Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe instead selected first Newark (now NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE), and later York (now TORONTO). During the WAR OF 1812, the development of a significant military and naval presence there stimulated the local economy and population growth.
Being at the junction of lake and river transport, Kingston was also the site of much transshipment activity for the export trade in lumber and agricultural produce and for inward-moving merchandise and passengers. However, during the War of 1812, the St Lawrence was found to be vulnerable to attacks from the United States. The completion of the RIDEAU CANAL in 1832, linking Upper and Lower Canada by the Ottawa River-Rideau Lakes-Cataraqui River, overcame and reinforced this commercial function. Kingston rapidly became the largest town in Upper Canada, and was the capital of the Province of Canada from 1841 until December 1843, when the Queen approved the removal of the seat of government to Montreal, although the governor general did not leave until June 1844.
By mid-century, however, the flow of grain down the St Lawrence had diminished; improvements in navigation of the St Lawrence allowed more through traffic to by-pass Kingston; the arrival of the GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY in 1856 presented a competitor to water transport; and larger lake vessels posed problems for Kingston's exposed and shallow harbour. As well as this erosion of the port's commercial activities, another economic blow was dealt by the departure of the imperial garrison in 1871.
Throughout the second half of the 19th century, Kingston's economic fortunes and demographic growth fell behind other urban centres. Several rail ventures attempted to extend Kingston's hinterland to the north, and by the 1880s the Kingston-Pembroke railway had pushed its tracks over 160 km north to Renfrew. However, unlike other Ontario cities, Kingston failed to industrialize and grow. Despite offers of bonuses and tax relief, Kingston could not attract significant capital investment. Although some textile factories were added in the 1880s, the city's economy continued to be dominated by commerce and such ancillary industries as the locomotive works and shipyards. Not until WWII did several new industries (Alcan Aluminium, DuPont Nylon) enter the city's regional economy.
Kingston's society and economy have a distinctive institutional base instead. FORT HENRY is a reminder of the 19th century garrison, the ROYAL MILITARY COLLEGE, and the extensive military establishment at Barriefield are part of a continuing military presence in the city. Similarly the provincial penitentiary, opened in 1835, subsequently led governments to locate a number of other federal and provincial correctional institutions in Kingston and its environs.
The educational sector is another major employer. "Queen's College at Kingston," originally a college of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, was founded in 1841, developed into QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY, and by the early 20th century had a national reputation in arts and science, medicine and theology. Finally, hospitals and other medical establishments, along with branch offices of government agencies, are part of the institutional presence in Kingston. Lacking dominant industries and significant population increase, Kingston retains much of the physical fabric and employment structure of its 19th-century form. Its lakeside amenities and historical heritage have generated much tourist activity in the 1990s.
CityscapeKnown as the "Limestone City," Kingston retains much of the ambience of a 19th-century commercial-institutional town. As in the original town plot of 1783, Kingston's downtown continues to be focused on the few blocks around Princess and Brock streets between Barrie and Ontario, near the waterfront. Kingston's cityscape has over 350 buildings designated as being of historical or architectural significance, another 350 as being of historical or architectural interest, and 2 heritage conservation districts (Market Square, Barriefield Village). KINGSTON CITY HALL, Customs House, the post office and Market Square constitute the dominant elements in a remarkable concentration of 19th-century structures. St George's (Anglican), St Andrew's (Presbyterian), St Mary's (Catholic) and Sydenham (United) churches are excellent examples of the diverse ecclesiastical styles of the last century. The Grand Trunk and Kingston and Pembroke railway stations, the several MARTELLO TOWERS along the waterfront, and several commercial buildings are all evidence of Kingston's former way of life. A few blocks away are Kingston's original residential areas, in which a pleasing mixture of architectural styles reflects the community's different periods of construction and social structure.
Since 1945, both a stable urban core and suburbanization have been the major features of Kingston's urban growth. The principal expansion in the 1960s and 1970s was to the west in Kingston Township and Ernestown Township (in such communities as La Salle Park, Bayridge, Collins Bay and Amherstview), with considerable expansion to the east in Pittsburgh Township in the 1980s and 1990s. After a shift of much retailing to suburban shopping malls in the 1960s and 1970s, the city's downtown has witnessed a major revitalization through the introduction of condominiums, hotels, restaurants, apartment houses and boutiques, especially along the streets adjacent to the waterfront.
Kingston's failure to grow economically in the 19th century at the same rate as other large Ontario communities such as Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa has meant a slow population growth, even some periods of decrease. From a permanent population of about 2000 just after the War of 1812, the city grew to almost 12 000 by mid-century and 14 000 by 1881. With 30 000 in 1941, the city population expanded to close to 50 000 following the annexation of 1952, increasing slowly to 60 000 in the late 1990s. The consolidation of the city and the two townships in 1998 increased the municipal population to over 110 000. By 1996 over 69 000 of the Kingston Urban Area population resided outside the city, in the adjacent townships of Kingston, Ernestown and Pittsburgh.
Kingston was bypassed by the immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. From 59% in 1851, its foreign-born population decreased to 14% in 1951. Over 75% of this group were British, Irish or American born. Only in the 1960s and 1970s did a more ethnically diverse population develop, with substantial groups of PORTUGUESE, ITALIANS, DUTCH and Asians.
As commercial activities eroded in the late 1800s, institutional employers, such as the university, penitentiaries, the military and hospitals, became more important in the city's economy. In the period prior to WWII, Kingston's economy was dominated by the Canadian Locomotive Company, the shipyards, Kingston Cotton Mills, and various small refineries and machine shops. Following the war, Alcan, DuPont, Celanese Canada and Northern Telecom were added to the Kingston region's industrial base. However, in recent years, these 4 have experienced a considerable overall reduction in their workforce and Kingston's institutional sector has come to dominate the local economy. In 1996 this sector accounted for 41.6% of the workforce, followed by retail trade (12.8%), hospitality (8.4%) and manufacturing (7.4%).
Government and Politics
Following settlement in 1783, Kingston was governed according to the French laws of Québec until the establishment of Upper Canada under the CONSTITUTIONAL ACT, 1791. Town affairs were initially administered by justices of the peace and the Court of Quarter Sessions, and Kingston was a "police town" until 1838, when it was incorporated as a municipality with a mayor and elected aldermen and councillors serving 4 wards. John A. MACDONALD promoted Kingston's incorporation as a city (1846) and a new council of 20 councillors and aldermen was created, one of whom is elected mayor by the councillors.
In 1850 Kingston extended beyond its original western limit, West Street, to incorporate the suburb of Stuartville. The city's limits were again extended in 1952 - west to the Little Cataraqui Creek and north to the present Highway 401. Since that time, Kingston's function as the dominant centre for the Kingston Urban Area has prompted the call for a regional government system. This became a reality in 1998 with the creation of a new municipality by the merger of the city with Kingston and Pittsburgh townships.
Cultural LifeKingston has a diverse cultural life, with a symphony orchestra of some distinction, several local theatre groups, the AGNES ETHERINGTON ART CENTRE and a full calendar of visiting artists, scholars and entertainers. Queen's and the military have long contributed to the musical, theatrical and general cultural scene while Kingston's TheTRAGICALLY HIP have made their mark in the world of popular music.
Prominent Canadian writers with a Kingston connection include Agnes Maule MACHAR, Robertson DAVIES, Janette Turner HOSPITAL, Matt COHEN, David HELWIG, Bronwen WALLACE and Merilyn Simonds. The Whig Standard is one of Canada's oldest daily newspapers.
Among Kingston's tourist attractions are Fort Henry, BELLEVUE HOUSE (the home of Canada's first prime minister), the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, the THOUSAND ISLANDS, the Rideau Canal and the city's distinctive architectural heritage.
Kingston's chief claim to sporting fame rests on Queen's football team, "Golden Gaels," the Kingston Frontenacs hockey team and the superlative sailing throughout the waters of the Bay of Quinte area. Portsmouth harbour was developed into a marina site for the sailing competition in the 1976 Summer Olympics, and Kingston Yacht Club hosts the annual Canadian Olympic Regatta Kingston (CORK). Kingston is the southern terminus of the Rideau Trail.
Margaret Angus, The Stones of Kingston (1989); Jennifer McKendry, With Our Past Before Us: Nineteenth Century Architecture in the Kingston Area (1995); Brian S. Osborne and Donald W. Swainson, Kingston: Building on the Past (1988); G. Tulchinsky (ed), To Preserve and Defend: Essays on Kingston in the Nineteenth Century (1976).