Friday, January 30, 2009

Fort Henry

Bryan Mercer, the Marketing Supervisor at Fort Henry National Historic Site (one of Kingston’s most well known attractions) had a few minutes to answer some of our Kingston questions... check it out below.

Kelly: What activity is an absolute must for anyone visiting Kingston?
Bryan: Experience an explosive Sunset Ceremony at Fort Henry and a drift down the St. Lawrence on a scrumptious dinner cruise onboard the Island Star.

K: What is the strangest request you have had from a guest?
B: Where in Kingston can we get married...quickly? Sent them to City Hall - never saw them again! They were so caught up in the beauty of the City, they wanted to get married here while on vacation.

K: When is the best time of year to visit Kingston? Why?
B: Depends on the visitor's favourite season. July and/or August - the City is in full bloom and outdoor events are boundless. October - amazing colours on walking trails or cruising the river. February for outdoor invigorating fun at Feb Fest.

K: What do your guests say they like the best about Kingston?
B: The friendly, helpful people that portray a great sense of pride about the City. The walkability ofdowntown. Being surrounded by water. The glorious, Victorian Architecture.

K: Who has more fun in Kingston, the visitors or residents?
B: It's a CONSTANT competition - it can change on any given day. When residents and guests meet a special events, it's hard to tell then apart!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We're not the only Kids on the Block

Last night I was running around on the net and I bumped into some other I love Kingston blogs. Ok, they may not have the same name, but they do have the same spirit. If you're into running around a bit, have a peak..

  1. Kingston Brew Pub's Beer Blog -
  2. A community blog like ours -
  3. Arts & Culture events -
  4. What's Happening in Kingston -

Now with that said, we don't mind you running around, just make sure you come back!

A Hip Grandma

In my last "Ode to the Fair City of Kingston" I explained that I am a Grandma. That should give you an idea of my age, although in my mind I'm a pretty "hip" Grandma. The word "hip" brings to mind one of my very favourite Kingston memories. (and No...I didn't break my hip there or anywhere else...Yet). "The Hip", or "the Tragically Hip" is a band who is famous all over North America and Europe. I have always been a huge fan, even long before I knew they came from Kingston. Finding out their origin was "icing on the cake"- my favourite group called my favourite city "home".

Now people who live in Kingston are "cool" about The Hip - I have never got an overly exuberant response when I mention them when I'm visiting. What I find amusing is that, while no one I have met actually knows any of the group personally, everyone seems to have a cousin who lives beside the brother of a schoolmate of the drummer, or the bass, or even Gordon Downie himself. I guess it really IS a small world. Anyway, its always close enough for me...I am always suitably impressed.

A couple of years ago my daughter called from Kingston to say she had signed me up as a volunteer. The Hip were playing a one night "gig" in Kingston. The only venue big enough to hold them at that time (not like the KROCK Centre now) was the playing field at the military college (RMC), and the organizers had to promise the field would be returned to RMC in pristine condition at the end of the concert. My job was to be part of the clean-up crew- picking up all the trash left by the crowd. In my mind I was going to be a "roadie" for the Hip- a once in a lifetime opportunity! I could just see myself being invited to go backstage to meet the band. I reserved my train ticket for the following day.

The big evening finally arrived. My first inkling that this little stint might not go as I had pictured it in my mind was when my daughter and son-in-law decided parking downtown might be tricky- they suggested we WALK to the RMC playing field. I am a person who takes the car to the corner store (me bad..too bad). I NEVER walk if it can possibly be avoided. I couldn't imagine walking what seemed like 30 miles just to get there- but far be it from me to sound old and decrepit. I should also mention my son-in-law is about 6 feet tall- and 5 feet of that is legs. He walks a mile a minute. I take four steps to his one. Oh well- off we go, me huffing and puffing in the rear- and trotting as fast as my old Grandma legs could go. I made it- just- but I was hot, and tired. Did I mention cranky?

The crowd was amazing. No matter how cool the citizens of Kingston were when speaking of The Hip- everyone showed up to hear them. What an exciting night! All was forgotten and forgiven. I left my daughter and her group (pregnant wives and hubbies either backpacking or pushing wee children in strollers), and pushed my way right up front. I expected to end up with the movers, groovers, smokers and moshers, but I guess THEY were the ones I pushed out of the way. The very front row was filled with other "Grandmas" of all shapes and sizes. We clapped, we boogied and we sang along. They played all our favourite Hip tunes. I, at least, had an official t-shirt, which I showed off. I had hoped it would say "staff" just so I could call myself a "roadie", but, alas it designated me as a volunteer. Still- I think the other ladies were so wishing they were me.

The concert was soon over. It surely was an evening to remember. I re-grouped with my family and we waited for the crowd to clear. Can you imagine what a mess thousands of people can make, and how many bottles and junk they leave behind? And I had promised to clean it all up. I had already walked what seemed like 50 miles or so (it goes up every time I tell this story), then performed with my new front row friends for over two hours- and now they expected me to put everything back to the way we found it. I was pretty sure each person there purposely left TWO empty water or pop bottles just for me. Also- upon checking, I discovered it was WAY past my bedtime.

We eventually did have the field cleaned up. I made it very plain, however, that if I was expected to walk home I would report my children to the authorities for causing cruel and unusual punishment. I was allowed to take a bus (although it didn't take us home, it instead dropped off us downtown at the Holiday Inn and we still had to walk).

That night is one of my fondest Kingston memories. I thought I might get a call-back from "Gord" asking me to join them again, but so far nothing. I'm not worried, there is always tomorrow for someone with my background training and extensive experience. This Grandma "roadie" will be ready!

Linda (Smith)

Tymparon Inn Bed & Breakfast

Another interview! This time Don and Zoe Timperon, Innkeepers at the Tymparon Inn Bed & Breakfast have filled us in on their thoughts and experiences in Kingston.

Kelly: What activity is an absolute must for anyone visiting Kingston?
Don & Z: Boat cruise in Thousands Islands

K: What is the strangest request you have had from a guest?
D&Z: Providing them with a list of nearby riding stables to ride horses English style

K: When is the best time of year to visit Kingston? Why?
D&Z: May - the weather is gorgeous, and it’s not too crowded, since most of the Queens students have gone home for the summer and our busiest tourist season hasn’t yet started.

K: What do your guests say they like the best about Kingston?
D&Z: Our waterfront and downtown stores and restaurants.

K: Who has more fun in Kingston, the visitors or residents?
D&Z: Residents - we have the pleasure to enjoy all of Kingston’s amazing attributes every day of the year.

Thanks Don & Zoe!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yum Yum

Visiting my sister in Kingston is always fun, it’s great to catch up in the way only sisters can (rehashing childhood fiascos and bemoaning parental mistakes). However I do admit, and rather ashamedly that what sustains me on the train ride to Kingston is the thought of the Aqua Terra Sunday Brunch. The restaurant is located in the Radisson hotel in downtown Kingston and is the best place for specialty waffles. Strawberries and whipped cream please!

Of course omelets, roast beef, salmon, fruit and all other breakfast treats are available but really it’s the waffles that matter. As always, we both eat way too much and end up walking it off in through Confederation Basin Park and up the streets of downtown. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday, and plus you won’t be hungry until dinner!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Internet in Kingston What a Pleasure

This past weekend we went to visit my parents in another city. Over breakfast and again over lunch we tried to show them something on the Internet (in two different locations) and didn't have any luck. Neither location had wireless set up for their customers. So after lunch we wandered around looking for somewhere to log on and no luck. I've never had that problem in Kingston. Many of our restaurants downtown are hotspots, the hotels all offer a connection and we even have an Internet Cafe available. As a tourist in another city, I was proud to be from a city that is up with the times - thanks Kingston!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Have you been to Springer Square?

Ok, so I'm not a skater myself, but being married to a hockey guy makes me qualified to tell a good rink when I see it. And it's not really about the ice. Over the Christmas holidays I went skating with my grandson down at market square. It was so great to have a free way to spend the day and I think others agree because the place was packed. When we needed a break we went to Sipps to warm up and when we were done we went to Lonestar for their famous fajitas (it's just in front of the Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront which we found at

So, if you looking for a good family activity in downtown Kingston, bring your skates and head to Springer Square.

Linda (Smith)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Visiting Kingston - An Outsider's Perspective

During my regular romps through blogs that pique my interest, I came across this delightful post from one Marie-Louise Ayres, Curator of Manuscripts from the National Library of Australia.

Back in 2007 Ms. Ayres attended the Association of Canadian Archivists' conference in Kingston, and in doing so also took the time to write about her experiences in the city.

From local hotels to the Royal Military College, Ms. Ayres does a wonderful job of documenting her first impressions through words and pictures.

If you have any experiences from Kingston that you would like to share, send an email to Linda McNair. If you're a local - and even if you're not - we'd love to read whatever you've got. (And yes, I do realize that last bit rhymed; I'm somewhat of a poet, if you haven't noticed!)

Cheers for now.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Peachtree Inn-terview

In an effort to get a view of Kingston from all sides I have managed to get Tara MacInnis, Sales Manager at the Peachtree Inn to answer some questions about our lovely city... thanks Tara!

Kelly: What activity is an absolute must for anyone visiting Kingston?
Tara: They must visit the museums as well as my favorite the Penitentiary Museum

K: What is the strangest request you have had from a guest?
T: I have had several people call and ask “How do I get to your hotel, I’m driving South on Princess Street.”

We have long full body mirrors located in every room and a guest once requested that we bring her a smaller mirror as ours were too big.

K: When is the best time of year to visit Kingston? Why?
T: The fall season because of all of the leaves; the colors are beautiful

K: What do your guests say they like the best about Kingston?
T: The downtown area, shops, restaurants and water front

K: Who has more fun in Kingston, the visitors or residents?
T: I would say like any town, the native people do not enjoy the city as much as those who come to visit. It is something they observe daily so they often forget to take a deep breath and look around to see what the City of Kingston really does have to offer.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Best of Both Worlds

Every time I head into Kingston – the good ol’ King’s Town, home of the Frontenacs and the Hip – I can’t help but think, “Shazam, this place is a living time capsule”! Compared to my modest little hometown, Kingston is the equivalent of a sprawling metropolis, embracing the progress of the 21st century without forgetting its’ hundreds-of-years-old heritage.

The Kingston Fortifications (including Murney Tower and Fort Henry) are reminders of past wars on Canadian soil, while Town Hall reminds us of Kingston’s brief position as Canada’s political capital.

Aging buildings – complete with brilliantly inspired architecture – continue to serve as homes, historical attractions, museums and bed & breakfasts. Only blocks away, world-class hotels pierce the skyline along the St. Lawrence River.

From the major retailers along Gardiners Road to the quaint shops of Princess Street, it’s as if the past, present and future have all collided. And I’m lovin’ every bit of it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A splash of a good time

While everyone else laid low on New Year's Day, we had a birthday to celebrate. My son turned 5 and was now big enough to ride the slide at the Ambassador Indoor Waterpark. What a great place to go! We spent over 2 hours there splashing in the pool, going down the waterslide (even I tried it - more than once), running through the splash pad, and mostly soaking in the hot tub. The Eucalyptus Steam Room was a great way to start the new year.

I may not be from out of town, but I love being a tourist in my own city!