Monday, October 24, 2011

Be Part of the History

Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada
By Patricia Henderson

Imagine spending a whole night inside the walls of an ancient fort while your imagination turns every echo into the whisper of soldiers long gone. Fort Henry, the largest fortification west of Quebec City, was built in the 1830s to replace an existing fort from the War of 1812. Restored in 1936, the fort embraces 19th century military life and has become a living museum populated by schoolteachers, soldier’s wives and the Fort Henry Guard – students trained as 1867 British soldiers.
Will Baird, the Special Events, Promotions and Sponsorship Officer for the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, says, “There are not too many UNESCO World Heritage Sites where you can spend the night just like a Victorian officer on an 1860s foldout soldiers cot. Imagine waking up in a castle with a view of the water and the entire city of Kingston!” But that is only one of a myriad of special events unique to Fort Henry.
Baird says, “In our Sunset Ceremony, the Fort Henry Guard performs a mock battle, and you get a glimpse into a British soldier’s life - a complete recreation of what history would have been like in the 1800s. This Wednesday night ceremony has been one of the top 100 events in Ontario for nearly a decade.”
On July 16 the Last Night at the Prom recreates an old British tradition and features BrassWerks and a 100-person choir. Baird says, “Once a year, in the mid-1800s in the British Empire, everyone was invited to see great bands and choirs perform in various locations – especially the Promenade.” The best part of the tradition is that everyone can sing along with the performers!
Just a week later, the famous Tattoo hosts different military bands and at the end of the evening, there is a 100-person finale in the parade square. Baird explains. “Tattoo is a Dutch word meaning ‘turn off the tap.’ Years ago, the band would march through the town playing so the bar keepers would know when it was time to shut off the taps and encourage the soldiers to return to their barracks.”
In August the US Marine Corps visits Fort Henry. “This is a co-performance that has been happening since 1954, and one of the only places that the full Battle Colour Detachment of the US Marine Corps (including the Silent Drill Platoon that executes a routine with no verbal commands) performs outside of the states.” It is fitting that a fort once built during the War of 1812 to defend Canada from the States, now delights in hosting this extraordinary event with our military neighbours to the south.
The tone of this historic fort, apparently one of the most haunted places in Canada, takes a turn for the ghostly when it is transformed from Fort Henry to Fort Fright in the fall. “This massive scare attraction showcases animatronics and ‘scare’ actors who jump out of spooky corners. One of the largest special events in the province, it won Best New Special Event in Ontario a few years ago. And last year it was nominated as one of the top 100 “must-see” festivals in the province.” It is followed by the new Victorian Holiday Festival in the winter.
Paul Fortier, a trained historian and owner of Jessup Foods and Heritage, has been at Fort Henry since 1994 and loves both history and food. He says, “There is no equivalent program of heritage dining linked to a National Historic Site anywhere in Canada. We take people back in time as though they were dining in the Officer’s Mess in the middle of the 19th century. Guests are served by soldier servants in an historic setting and because guests know they are in a unique dining setting, they can really let their hair down.”
Fortier says, “We don’t even need all the ghost stories at the fort, because the real stories are hugely entertaining. Once a Scotsman in the 89th Regiment was dining in his residence during the War of 1812 when a knock came at the door. When he opened it, a Yankee was standing there. (Keep in mind this was in the middle of the war!) Turns out he had heard that the British army paid top dollar for beef so he had herded 200 head of cattle all the way from Vermont, across the St Lawrence River, to Kingston. He had heard right though, and the two sealed the deal with a glass of wine and some gold coins.”
Today the fort and food and history and music are still deliciously intertwined. Fortier says, “Groups from across Canada say their evening at Fort Henry was the most enjoyable and entertaining they have ever had, not just because of the fun, but because they learn about Canada’s past.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Haunted Halloween Walk

Get into the Halloween spirit while in Kingston this month with the Original Haunted Walk of Kingston - Halloween Edition. The Haunted Walk is an evening walking tour through the quiet streets of the limestone city by lantern-light. This tour features the hangings at the old Courthouse, the Organist's ghost and the haunted student ghetto house. This tour shows Kingston as it was meant to be seen, up close and on foot.

Not for the faint of heart!

This fall, dare visit Eastern Ontario's largest haunted fortress - Fort Fright! This award-winning event will have you looking over your shoulder as screams emanate from dark casemates, dead things come to life, and ghouls stalk your every move...

Join us for what has been described as Ontario's Best Haunted Experience as historic and haunted Fort Henry is once again transformed into the terrifying Fort Fright. The Fort comes to life each Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night with ghostly apparitions and spooky creatures who will scare you right out of our Citadel!

New this year, let haunted hypnotist Buzz Collins pick your brain in his nightly hypnotism show! Step into a realm where anything can happen! Come face to face with your greatest fears! Where is this place you wonder? In your own mind! Witness the bizarre, the freakish and the absurd - after all, they are your friends! See the show or be the show! Show starts at 8:15 p.m. every night of Fort Fright!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Canada’s 1000 Islands are magical at the best of times, but never so much as when you are sailing among them. To make this dream come true, the 1000 Islands Cruise Lines have commandeered some of the best river captains around to drive their prize vessels – The Island Belle, The Star and The Island Queen III. Captain Stephen Steeles has been involved with the company since 1980 and has an ever growing passion for these waterways.
During his almost 30 years on the water, Steeles has handled all of the 1000 Island Cruise Line boats in and around the islands and has taken longer voyages to Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec. “I have seen every channel and every one of the 1,871 islands as well as thousands of sunsets, sunrises and rainbows. On a map people just see a tiny sliver of a waterway, but when they get here, they realize it is so much bigger than they thought. One of my favourite sections is the Admiralty Islands and the Bateau Channel. It is just so magical on these waters and people can’t believe we have something this beautiful so close to home.”
So passengers will be delighted not only by the stunning scenery but by the knowledge that they are in the hands of a passionate, seasoned captain. As Steeles says, “This is a one-of- a- kind, eye-catching vessel and we treat everyone as if they are coming into our home. I take it personally if they don’t have a good time. After all, we are the food, fun and entertainment industry, and everyone from the owners to the crew are committed to that!” And so, the magic continues…

Hotel Highlight - Comfort Inn 401

The Comfort Inn Hwy. 401 is conveniently situated within minutes of major points of interest in the Kingston 1000 Islands region. Named for its position near Highway 401, the hotel provides easy access off the highway at exit 617, Division Street and to all area attractions.
All guests will appreciate the many amenities offered at this Kingston hotel, including:
Free continental breakfast
Free wireless high-speed Internet access
Free weekday newspaper
Free local calls
Pet-friendly hotel
Picnic Area
Your stay will be most enjoyable in the tastefully appointed guest rooms. The best in convenience and relaxation combined with amenities, including cable television, hair dryers, irons, ironing boards and coffee makers.