Kingston, ON

Since I won’t be adding any more walk blogs, due to my lower back pain, I thought I would share some of my past yoga retreats. The quality of the pictures are not great because of the camera. However you will get a good feeling for the areas I visited.

Next summer I’m planning a trip to Algonquin Park with Eve and Greta. I’ll do some hiking but also canoeing and lounging around.

In 2017 I was heading to a yoga retreat on Wolf Island, Ontario at the Shanti Yoga Retreat. The ferry to the island leaves from Kingston. I decided to come a day early and explore Kingston.

Of course for me, when I think of Kingston, I think penitentiary. There it is in the background. It is now a tourist attraction offering tours. But, as it turned out, Kingston had so much more to offer.

In the mid-1800s, Kingston was awash in breweries. However, they were a series of small enterprises. One of the reasons is that the British soldiers at local Fort Henry were entitled to six pints a day ration. Beer was also safer to consume than water.

Molson brewery was established in Montreal. In 1824 Thomas Molson had a disagreement with the family. He moved to Kingston and opened a small brewery. Here is the site of the Morton Brewery. It is now an arts centre.

Kingston has both Queen’s University and the Royal Military College. There is no lack of students. And where there are students, there will be bars. A t-shirt with a play on the word “bars”.

And speaking of bars, Kingston is the stomping grounds of our first Prime Minister – Sir John A. MacDonald. In fact you could do a walking tour to follow in his footsteps. He established his law practice and represented Kingston pre-Confederation in the Upper Canada Assembly. He was living downtown but, because of his wife Isabella’s health, move to this location outside the city in 1844.

In 1851 MacDonald bought a tavern in Kingston. When I visited, it was called the Royal Tavern and was still in operation.

They still had the deed of sale, signed by Sir John in a display case. Later, he sold it to the Grimason family. That deed of sale is also on display. Okay, it’s not the Declaration of Independence but it is still part of our history.

During his time there, the tavern became the unofficial meeting place of the Conservative Party. It is designated an historical building but was bought a couple of years ago by a condo development company. Hopefully the deeds will be stored with Archives of Canada.

I headed to a bar that was once the law office of Sir John A.

There was a posting for a Ghost Tour so bought a ticket hoping I might see the the ghost of Sir John.

Checked into my boutique hotel. Forget the name of it but it was once a bank.

My room had a vault with a drink fridge.

Time for the ghost tour. Kingston City Hall. in the 19th century, the basement contained jail cells. 2 inmates died on separate occasions speculating that there ghosts still haunt the place.

The original battlement walls for Kingston.

The “port of entry” for entering the country from the USA. Sign says all people entering Canada must report to customs. I did overhear a sailor talking about crossing over ot the US so I guess they get boaters from America.

The Spirit Sir John A. Well, it was not the spirit I was looking for.

Our tour starts at the Prince George Hotel. Our guide tells the story of woman who was in love with a sailor – something her parents did not approve of. She would meet him at the hotel. One night, a big storm prevented him for coming to see her. She had a candle in the window which was blown over by the wind. The room caught fire.

Her ghost has been known to greet guests late at night and escort them up to the room. Whoooo

The Ghost Tour was on a trolley so we were able to travel extensively around the city. Rockwood Hospital for the Criminally Insane 1878 – 1905. It was thought that being near the lake would have a calming effect on the patients.

Built by conscripted inmates from Kingston Penitentiary the unusually large window in the design were meant to allow more light for the patients.

At first they used the methods of the day – ice baths, restraints. Dr. Metcalf was later appointed head and began a series of more modern methods of treatment.

However he was stabbed by a violent inmate. People have seen a light moving from window to window – the ghost of Dr. Metcalf.

This building is where the mentally ill children were housed. 

We drive back to the city. Next to City Hall. This is the site where the hanging gallows were built for executions. There were bodies buried under the parking lot but workers did not find any when they were building the lot.

Our final stop is Cataraqui Cemetery where Sir John A. MacDonald is buried. No ghosts here. Just a quietude and a respectful silence from our guide.

Right next to MacDonald’s is Sir Alexander Campbell’s grave. He worked with Sir John in establishing the Confederation.

Well, after those shiver stories, I had to go for a pint. Kingston had a number of modern day craft breweries (keeping up the tradition). Skeleton Park was one of them. Skeleton park is the local nickname for an area that once held Kingston’s main cemetery. It is now a public park.

The next day I headed over to Wolfe Island on the ferry from my retreat.

Was greeted with this mural at the General Wolfe Inn so went in for lunch. General Wolfe, of course, defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham. It was our first Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe, who named the St. Lawrence islands after British generals.

I had brought my bike with me so I could tour some of the island. Queen’s Head Lighthouse (in the background). The North Eastern most point of Wolfe Island. Couldn’t get closer because there is the private residence- a converted lighthouse.

After the bike ride, I headed back to Shanti Yoga Retreat to check in and start my weekend of yoga. My next post will be my yoga retreat in Maui.