Jun 17, 2019

Day Trip to Kingston, Ontario

We Central New Yorkers are fortunate because we have the opportunity for many great day trips including ones to Canada. Getting to Kingston is half the fun.  I like taking the ferry from Cape Vincent to Wolfe Island. The ride is only 10 minutes; the ferry runs frequently until mid-
October and has been family-owned for over 200 years. Customs takes place on Wolfe Island so an enhanced driver’s license or a passport is necessary.  It is a no-stress situation.  Wolfe Island is the largest island in the Thousand Islands and home to a huge wind farm. 

When visiting Kingston, the Limestone City, get acquainted with
the Confederation Trolley Tour. It is the best way to get an overview of Kingston.  Excellent guides share three centuries of the city’s history laced with humor. The 1.5 hour tour makes its way from downtown to Fort Henry to the Penitentiary to Queens College covering all the highlights of the Limestone City with an option to get off at Fort Henry or Bellevue, the home of Sir John A. MacDonald. 

Set sail out of Kingston on one of the several sightseeing river cruises offered by 1000 Island Cruises.  There is a tour to fit everyone’s needs as they range from 1.5 to 3 hours. Some include meals and music.  They all offer headsets for those who wish to hear the narration in French, English, Mandarin, Spanish or German. The tour narration is a lively repartee between
“Sir John A. MacDonald” and the lady narrator, which keeps things interesting.   The tour passes scenic Whiskey and Admiralty Islands along with Half Moon Bay near Ganaoque where boaters have been gathering on Sunday mornings since 1887 to attend religious services without leaving their boats. Learn interesting stories and legends of the islands.

Not to miss is Fort Henry built to protect the area from the Americans during the War of 1812. Visitors can explore the fort, watch demonstrations and historical reenactments, and attend a Victorian school.  Actually, it is worth a day-trip without doing anything else.

I found the Kingston Penitentiary fascination.  It was a maximum
security prison that closed in 2013 and some of the docents are former guards with great stories.  I like the ones about the inmates who were released and then went and committed another crime so they could get back in prison for the “three hots and a cot!”  Equally fascinating are the incredible objects created by the inmates, some fashioned to get out of prison and some as keepsakes. 

Bellevue, the home of Canada’s First Prime Minister, was inspired by Italian Villas and is now a museum with interesting artifacts and informational historical videos dealing with the 1840s. 

Kingston City Hall is just one of the buildings gave rise to the nickname, “The Limestone City.”  The neoclassic building is a National Historic Site of Canada and that dates back to 1844. 
There are guided tours or you can walk around on your own.  When John and I toured the building our guide was a former American who moved to Canada.  I wished I asked him when and why.  The building has many interesting features including a jail. 
There is really too much to see in one day. There are plenty of great places to eat. The next time I go I want to visit the Museum of Health Care with collections that dates back to the 1700s.