Saturday, March 15, 2003

Kingston the loyal

To Kingston, Ontario pop. 130,000 for March break. Three nights at the Holiday Inn. Take the 401 highway east from Toronto and turn off onto the Loyalist Parkway in our rented Chevy Cavalier. Suddenly we run out of road and discover we need to take a ferry to continue our journey. Drive onto the M.V. Quinte Loyalist for a short trip through the icy waters of Lake Ontario. A short ride from the dock to downtown Kingston. We don't feel like venturing out in the cold the first night so we have supper at the hotel - a solitary affair on the sixth floor looking out over the lake and the Martello tower at the harbour entrance, a reminder of back home.
Friday morning and off to see what Kingston has to offer - first to the old railway station, now housing tourist information, a stone-built building more substantial than many of its wooden counterparts. There is another old station, less recognisably so, now housing an Italian restaurant further on.
Breakfast at Morrison's at King and Market - traditional cooked breakfast in pleasant surroundings looking out at the stone-built Kingston City Hall with the good 'ol boys enjoying lunch up at the counter. Off to Indigo to browse the books and buy a copy of the Kingston Whig-Standard, Canada's oldest daily newspaper founded in 1834. They report on a pilot project to divert run-off from the old town tip into an ecological "swamp" where plants will absorb the pollutants - I hope it works although they didn't seem very sure.
Kingston officially became a town in 1818, and served as the first capital of the United Canadas in 1841. Stop at Coffee and Company at 53 Princess Street - pleasant reading the local student paper with the usual storm-in-a-teacup controversies, while basking in the window of this old "heritage" building. Purchased some croissants at Pan Chancho across the street; a bakery, deli and eatery housed in an old bank building dated 1833.
In the evening a small pub crawl taking in the Kingston Brewing Company pub on Clarence Street to sample their Dragon's Breath bitter - tasty and strong - and gawp at their collection of mostly British pub memorabilia. Home after a couple of Alexander Keith's at the Old Speckled Hen nearby.
Strolling round the heritage district close to the lakeshore this morning, stopped at the Town Crier, newsagent and coffee shop to purchase the National Post . Good selection of international newspapers if you are homesick. The weather is warming up with spring thaw on the way at last and Kingston is growing on me.

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