Uncovering Hidden Gems in Kingston, Ontario

Kingston, Ontario, is a historic city in southeastern Ontario, Canada, on the north shore of Lake Ontario, where it joins the St. Lawrence River. Founded in 1673 by Louis de Buade, the Comte de Frontenac and governor of New France, it served as a fur-trading post and military fort until being destroyed by the British in 1758. The site was resettled in 1783 by loyalists, who likely named it for King George III.


Kingston is a city of 133,000 people (2021), home to many churches, old buildings, picturesque neighbourhoods, and 19th-century fortifications. It is situated halfway between Montréal and Toronto, providing venues for nightlife and weekend escapes for people living in those cities. 


The city is home to Queen's University, the Royal Military College of Canada, and St. Lawrence College, giving it the most PhD graduates per capita and the "smartest" workforce in Canada.


Kingston offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors, including:

  • Ontario's oldest public market and a vibrant live music scene
  • Historic sites like Fort Henry and the Kingston Fortifications (part of the Rideau Canal UNESCO World Heritage site)
  • Vibrant arts, entertainment, recreation and leisure communities
  • Festivals, events, and attractions
  • Beautiful parks, trails and strolls steeped in history
  • A healthy and bustling downtown core with independent shops and restaurants


With its rich history, picturesque setting, and diverse offerings, Kingston is a popular destination for tourists looking to experience the best of Ontario's culture and natural beauty.


History of Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Kingston, Ontario, has a rich history dating back to the 17th century when Europeans first settled the area. The area was originally occupied by Indigenous groups like the Wyandot (Hurons) and later the Iroquois and Mississaugas.


In 1673, the French governor Louis de Buade established Fort Frontenac (later renamed Kingston) as a fur-trading post and military fort. 


The fort was destroyed by the British in 1758. In 1783, the British governor of Quebec established a settlement for Loyalists fleeing the American Revolutionary War. The city was likely named after King George III.


During the War of 1812, Kingston was a major military center and naval base. Fort Henry was built in 1813 to defend the Rideau Canal and the city's harbour. Kingston served as the capital of the United Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada from 1841 to 1844.


The city grew as an important port for shipping commodities like wheat, flour, and lumber. The completion of the Rideau Canal in 1832 reinforced Kingston's commercial role. 


However, economic growth stagnated in the late 19th century as the city failed to attract significant industry.


In the 20th century, Kingston's economy shifted to focus on institutions like Queen's University (founded 1841), the Royal Military College (founded 1876), and correctional facilities. 


The city's population grew more slowly than other Ontario cities in the 1800s but expanded with the annexation of surrounding townships in 1998.


Today, Kingston is known as the "Limestone City" for its many historic limestone buildings. It remains an important educational and military center and attracts tourists to its historic sites and picturesque setting at the junction of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.


Geography of Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Kingston, Ontario, Canada, is situated at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, where it flows into the St. Lawrence River. The city's landform is characterized as part of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Lowlands. 


This strategic location has facilitated the city's growth by providing easy access for exporting and importing goods via the St. Lawrence River, which connects Kingston to the Atlantic Ocean and international markets.


Two major bodies of water mark the city's natural landscape: Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. While this proximity to water has advantages, it also poses challenges, such as the risk of flooding, ice storms, and excessive snowfall. 


The local climate is classified as continental, with temperatures ranging from -7°C in January to 21.5°C in July. Lake Ontario's moderating effect helps regulate the city's temperatures, preventing extreme cold in winter.


Kingston's geography has played a significant role in its development, with the St. Lawrence River being a key factor in the city's growth. The river's connection to the Atlantic Ocean and international cities has made Kingston an important port and commercial center. 


The city's historic significance is also reflected in its architecture, earning it the nickname "Limestone City" due to the many old and important buildings constructed from local limestone.


Demographics of Kingston, Ontario, Canada

The demographics of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, provide a detailed insight into the city's population characteristics based on the 2021 Census data. Here is a summary of key demographic information:

  • Population: In 2021, Kingston had a population of 132,485, showing a 7.0% increase from 2016.
  • Gender Distribution: Males accounted for 48.4% of the population, while females comprised 51.6%.
  • Age Distribution: The average age in Kingston was 42.7 years, with the largest age group being individuals over 65 years old. Age groups were distributed as follows:
    • Under 14 years: 14.1%
    • 15 to 24 years: 13.0%
    • 25 to 34 years: 14.9%
    • 35 to 44 years: 12.2%
    • 45 to 54 years: 11.2%
    • 55 to 64 years: 13.5%
    • Over 65 years: 21.1%.
  • Marital Status: 41% of residents were married, 11.7% lived in common-law relationships, 31.3% were single, and smaller percentages were separated, divorced, or widowed.
  • Household Characteristics: Kingston had 57,835 households, 55.8% of which were owner-occupied and 44.2% rented. The average household size was 2.2 people, and the majority of households had 2 people living in them.
  • Language: 95.8% of Kingston residents spoke English most often at home, while 3.2% spoke French and 0.5% spoke English and French.
  • Income: The median household income in Kingston was $79,000, with a median after-tax household income of $70,500.
  • Employment: The unemployment rate was 13.2%, with the largest employment sectors being sales and service, education, health, and business administration.
  • Immigration: Kingston had 15,840 immigrants, 1,630 of whom arrived between 2011 and 2016. Recent immigrants accounted for a portion of the immigrant population.


These demographic insights provide a comprehensive overview of the population composition, age distribution, marital status, household characteristics, language preferences, income levels, employment sectors, and immigration patterns in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Economy of Kingston, Ontario, Canada

The economy of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, is diverse, reflecting the city's historical significance and strategic location at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, where it meets the St. Lawrence River. Kingston's economy is influenced by various sectors, including education, tourism, and corrections facilities. 


The city is home to institutions like Queen's University, the Royal Military College of Canada, and St. Lawrence College, which contribute significantly to the local economy. Kingston's historic sites, vibrant arts scene, and recreational opportunities attract tourists, further boosting economic activity in the city.


Moreover, Kingston's proximity to the Thousand Islands and its position as a gateway between major cities like Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto contribute to its economic vitality through tourism and trade. 


The city's nickname, "Limestone City," reflects its architectural heritage and the importance of heritage buildings in attracting visitors and supporting local businesses.


Kingston's economy benefits from a mix of sectors, including education, tourism, corrections, and trade, making it a dynamic and economically resilient city in Ontario, Canada.


Education in Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Education in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, is diverse and robust. Several prominent institutions offer various educational opportunities. The city is home to renowned universities and colleges, including Queen's University, the Royal Military College of Canada, and St. Lawrence College. 


These institutions play a vital role in shaping Kingston's educational landscape and attracting a significant number of students to the city each year.

  • Queen's University: Queen's University is a highly-ranked institution known for its student experience and comprehensive academic programs. It offers a research-intensive environment, interdisciplinary programs, and a robust international exchange program with over 220 partners. Queen's University boasts a high employment rate for its graduates, with 91% employed within six months after graduation.
  • Royal Military College of Canada: The Royal Military College of Canada is integral to the Canadian Defence Academy, providing education and training in military-related fields. It is part of a group that includes the Royal Military College Saint-Jean and the Canadian Forces College, contributing to the development of military personnel in Canada.
  • St. Lawrence College: St. Lawrence College offers a diverse range of programs, including full-time programs, fast-track delivery options, graduate certificates, and four-year degrees. With Kingston, Brockville, Cornwall, and online campuses, St. Lawrence College provides accessible and flexible educational opportunities for students in the region.


Additionally, Kingston is home to a variety of elementary and secondary schools, such as King's Town School, Kingston Christian School, Lakeshore School, Leahurst College, Mulberry Waldorf School, and Quintillian School, providing a strong foundation for students before they pursue higher education. 


These educational institutions contribute significantly to Kingston's intellectual and cultural vibrancy, making it a hub for learning and academic excellence in Ontario, Canada.


Transport System of Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Kingston, Ontario, has a well-developed public transportation system operated by Kingston Transit. Here are the key details about Kingston's transport system:


Routes and Service

  • Kingston Transit operates 27 routes within the city and to the neighbouring community of Amherstview.
  • Major transfer points are Kingston Centre, Downtown Kingston, Cataraqui Town Centre, and Gardiners Town Centre.
  • Routes operate Monday-Saturday from approximately 6 am-11 pm and Sunday from 8:30 am-8:30 pm.
  • Buses run every 30 minutes Monday-Saturday before 7 pm and every 60 minutes at other times.
  • Kingston Transit serves all three local post-secondary institutions: Queen's University, St. Lawrence College, and the Royal Military College.



  • Cash fare is $3.25 for youth (15-24) and $3.75 for adults (25-64).
  • Multi-ride passes, and monthly passes are available at discounted rates.
  • Children under 14 ride for free.



  • Kingston Transit operates a fleet of buses, including accessible low-floor buses.
  • The fleet is regularly updated to provide reliable and efficient service.


Park and Ride

  • Kingston Transit offers park-and-ride lots at several locations, including Montreal Street, INVISTA Centre, Centre 70, and Innovation Drive.
  • Customers can park their vehicles for free and ride the bus to their destination.


Kingston Transit provides a comprehensive and convenient public transportation system that connects the city's residents and visitors to key destinations while also serving the needs of students and commuters.


Living in Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Living in Kingston, Ontario, Canada offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With a population of 133,000 (2021), Kingston offers a comfortable size and a high quality of life.


Attractions and Amenities

  • Kingston is known for its historic downtown, picturesque neighbourhoods, and 19th-century fortifications. The city's nickname, "Limestone City," reflects its many heritage buildings constructed using local limestone.
  • Residents and visitors can enjoy a variety of cultural offerings, entertainment, and festivals year-round. The city's independent merchants offer interesting specialty and boutique shopping.
  • Kingston boasts exceptional outdoor recreational experiences, with its location on the shores of Lake Ontario, the scenic Thousand Islands, the St. Lawrence River, and the Rideau Canal. The city is also home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Fort Henry.


Education and Economy

  • Kingston is home to several prominent educational institutions, including Queen's University, the Royal Military College of Canada, and St. Lawrence College. These institutions contribute significantly to the city's economy and intellectual vibrancy.
  • The city's economy is diverse, with sectors such as education, tourism, corrections facilities, and trade playing important roles. Kingston is known for its high employment rate and affordable housing choices in safe, attractive neighbourhoods.


Transportation and Lifestyle

  • Kingston is considered the most walkable and cyclable city in Ontario. The city's public transportation system, operated by Kingston Transit, provides efficient and reliable service to residents.
  • Commuting in Kingston is relatively easy, with a 15-minute drive considered a long commute. The city offers the advantages of larger cities while maintaining the lifestyle of a small city.


Kingston provides a comfortable and attractive living environment with a rich history, diverse amenities, and a high quality of life.


Healthcare in Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Healthcare in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, is well-served by a range of facilities and services that cater to the needs of residents and visitors. Here are some key aspects of healthcare in Kingston based on the provided sources:

  • Walk-in Clinics: Kingston offers several walk-in clinics to address urgent, minor, non-life-threatening medical issues. These clinics provide services such as prescription renewals and are accessible without appointments. Fees are covered for those under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) or the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP).
  • Community Health Centers: Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC) is a vital part of the healthcare landscape in Kingston, offering integrated services that empower individuals and build resilient communities. KCHC is committed to equity-oriented service delivery, focusing on each community's unique needs. The center improves health and well-being by empowering individuals to shape their experiences and promoting a sense of agency and participation.
  • Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC): The Kingston Health Sciences Centre is a significant healthcare provider in Kingston. It cares for patients, families, and the community through everyday actions, significant moments, and breakthroughs. KHSC is crucial in delivering healthcare services and advancing regional medical care.
  • Health Innovation Kingston: The City of Kingston is leading an economic development initiative called "Health Innovation Kingston" (HI YGK) to grow the city's health and healthcare sector. This initiative aims to support the growth of existing health sector companies, attract new companies to Kingston, and leverage technology and expertise to enhance the health sector's development.


Healthcare in Kingston is comprehensive, with a focus on providing accessible and quality services to the community. It is supported by a network of healthcare providers, facilities, and innovative initiatives aimed at advancing healthcare in the region.


Tourist places of Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Some of the top tourist places to visit in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, include:

  1. Fort Henry National Historic Site: Located at 1 Fort Henry Dr, Fort Henry offers a glimpse into Canada's military past with authentic displays and a strategic location overlooking the rivers12.
  2. Kingston Waterfront: This picturesque area along the waterfront pathway offers scenic views and a relaxing atmosphere for walks and leisure activities12.
  3. Kingston Penitentiary: This historic site is at 560 King St W. It offers tours that provide insights into the prison's 178-year history and the opportunity to explore behind the scenes12.
  4. Bellevue House National Historic Site: Located at 35 Centre St, this site offers a look into the life of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, in a beautiful historic setting.
  5. Murney Tower Museum National Historic Site: Situated at 2 King St W, Murney Tower showcases military and domestic artifacts from 19th-century Kingston and offers beautiful waterfront views12.
  6. Lake Ontario Park: A popular park at 920 King St W, providing green spaces, waterfront views, and recreational opportunities for visitors.
  7. Downtown Kingston: Centered around Queen and Princess Streets, downtown Kingston offers a vibrant atmosphere with historic landmarks, shopping, dining, and entertainment options12.
  8. Frontenac Provincial Park: Nature enthusiasts can enjoy the beauty of Frontenac Provincial Park, offering outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing12.
  9. Marine Museum of the Great Lakes: Located in Kingston, this museum showcases the maritime history of the Great Lakes region, including exhibits on ships, navigation, and marine heritage12.
  10. Isabel Bader Centre for Performing Arts: This cultural hub in Kingston hosts a variety of performances, concerts, and events for art and music enthusiasts12.


These attractions offer a mix of historical, cultural, and natural experiences, making Kingston a diverse and engaging destination for tourists to explore and enjoy.


Local Food of Kingston, Ontario, Canada

The local food scene in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, is vibrant and diverse, offering many options for food enthusiasts to explore and enjoy. Kingston showcases the best locally sourced ingredients and culinary creations, from fresh produce to artisanal products. Here are some highlights of the local food scene in Kingston:

  • Farmers' Markets: Kingston's farmers' markets provide a convenient way to access fresh and locally produced food from a variety of farmers and food producers. These markets offer a wide selection of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, honey, maple syrup, and more.
  • Local Food Organizations: Kingston is home to local food organizations that focus on processing raw ingredients into finished products like bread, beverages, cheese, and coffee. These organizations play a crucial role in supporting and extending the local food system in Kingston.
  • Restaurants: Kingston boasts a diverse culinary scene with restaurants that emphasize locally sourced ingredients. From student-friendly eateries to upscale establishments, Kingston offers a range of dining options that showcase the region's best produce and culinary talent.
  • Wineries and Breweries: Kingston's proximity to Prince Edward County wineries and its artisan breweries and distilleries add to the local food experience, offering visitors and residents the chance to explore and taste a variety of locally crafted beverages.


Kingston's local food scene reflects the region's agricultural richness, culinary creativity, and commitment to supporting local producers. Whether you're looking for fresh ingredients, unique dishes, or a taste of the region's flavours, Kingston has something to offer for every food lover.


You can also check the information regarding Kenora, Ontario

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