Visiting Kingston Canada With a Small Dog
There are not many small cities in Canada that pack the historical punch that Kingston does. The city’s motto is “Where history and innovation thrive,” and it certainly has the history part covered:
- The city’s nickname is “Limestone City” because of the many heritage buildings constructed using local limestone.
- There are nearly 700 properties listed in the heritage register.
- The Rideau Canal, along with the fortifications at Kingston, are designated a World Heritage Site, one of only 15 such sites in Canada.
- Twenty-one of Canada’s National Historic Sites are located in Kingston, the third largest collection of sites within any city in Ontario, after Ottawa and Toronto.
And Kingston does all this with a picturesque environment too – right on the water, where the St. Lawrence River flows into Lake Ontario.
Kingston was known in 1673 as Fort Frontenac and “Cataraqui,” and was later referred to as “The King’s Town” or “King’s Town” in honor of King George III. The name was shortened to “Kingston” in 1788.
Kingston was chosen as the first capital of the United Canadas (I never knew we were called that!) and served in that role from 1841 to 1844. The first meeting of the Parliament of the United Canadas, was held on June 13, 1841, on the site of what is now Kingston General Hospital. Sadly, the city was considered too small, lacking in amenities, and vulnerable to American attack. Consequently, the capital was moved to Montreal in 1844, and then alternated between Quebec City and Toronto until 1849 when Ottawa was selected as the permanent capital.
After a glorious start, Kingston’s growth slowed considerably and its national importance declined. But with its rich historical, political, and military past, Kingston is a great place to get a feel for the struggles involved in the creation of our nation. For my American readers, although much smaller, I often think of Kingston as Canada’s equivalent to Philadelphia, just as Ottawa is the equivalent to Washington.
If you like history, then you might enjoy this short run down of the most important events in the city’s past. If not, skip ahead past the bullets!
- The small original settlement was captured and destroyed by the British in the Battle of Fort Frontenac during the Seven Years’ War in 1758.
- In the early 1780s, the area became a receiving center for Loyalist refugees who fled north because of the American Revolutionary War.
- During the War of 1812, Kingston was the base for the Lake Ontario division of the Great Lakes British Naval Fleet, which engaged in a vigorous arms race with the American fleet based at Sackets Harbor, New York for control of Lake Ontario.
- In the 1840s, the Upper Canada government built Fort Henry and a series of distinctive Martello towers to guard the entrance to the Rideau Canal.
- Irish immigrants, fleeing the Great Famine, were subjected to the typhus epidemic of 1847. The remains of 1,400 Irish immigrants who died in fever sheds along the waterfront were brought to the Kingston General Hospital.
- Kingston was the home of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.
- During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Kingston was a center for shipbuilding and locomotive manufacturing. The Canadian Locomotive Company, at one time the largest locomotive works in the British Empire, was based in Kingston.
- On the 16th of October 1841, one of Canada’s most prestigious Universities was founded: Queen’s University.
- The Royal Military College was established in 1876. It is still an active academy.
- The Royal Naval College of Canada was founded in 1910 . Sadly, it closed a few years later and was moved to British Columbia.
But enough about ALL that! You want to know what we did, right?
Well, for starters, we had dinner. Oh yes! Kingston is home to one of the only patios legally open to pets: Chez Piggy! Somehow, the restaurant was grandfathered in to existing legislation or some thing or other. I don’t really understand the why of it all, but both the restaurant and the bakery (Pan Chancho, found a few blocks away on 44 Princess Street) are pet friendly. Imagine our delight! So, we settled down and enjoyed a very tasty meal.
The food is very good and the atmosphere absolutely delightful. The restaurant can be a little hard to find with its main entrance and patio in an inner courtyard, so keep your eyes peeled. Walk through the little alley and sit under the big tree to enjoy a fine repast with your canine companion.
From the website:
“In 1979, Rose Richardson and Zal Yanovsky renovated an abandoned limestone stable and launched a dining experience that blends grace and gusto, taste and imagination – and helped make Kingston a destination for food lovers. “The Pig,” as it is known locally, continues to attract both newcomers and a longstanding, faithful clientele.”
We had a great time!
After a good meal, we felt we needed to burn some of those calories, so we walked around the old streets, looking in awe at all the old limestone homes. So many of the homes have historical plaques. Many of the homes are very well kept, and a few looked in need of some TLC.
The next time we go, we want to see if we can get ourselves on a walking tour. So many homes and so many questions, but we had no answers! We must remedy that. So if anyone knows of a good walking tour in Kingston, share the details in the comments below!
We also took time to go up to Fort Henry. Yes, it is still there after all these years. It’s a major tourist attraction now. Young men in full uniform still “man” the Fort in a summer-long, re-enactment kind of way. It’s thrilling to hear them practicing the drills over the big thick walls. Sadly, you can’t enter Fort Henry with a canine. Not even a little one like me in arms. And I have no idea why; I mean, they have a GOAT!
But, what we did do was walk around the grounds, enjoyed the first rays of summer-like sun, and imagined the historical events unfolding around us. You can almost hear the soldiers shouting. But the fury of dealing with the flying ants … I can’t even begin to describe the unpleasantness of it. It was irritating to say the least. But once further away from the stone walls, the ants seemed to disappear. Phew!
We had a lovely day and a half in Kingston, but it wasn’t nearly enough time. I still want to see where the Rideau Canal started. I still wish to take out a sailboat and glide over the waters. I can’t wait to return to Chez Piggy and have some more yummy food. That is how I know, just know, we will return. Heck, the pet shop Urban Paws is worth a visit all on its own!
In Review: With many pet friendly hotels (not so much the B&Bs), a pet friendly patio for dining, a lovely town to walk around, a great lake to sail upon, historical grounds to visit and so much more, Kingston is definitely a pet friendly stop for the “with dog” traveler. Bring a camera!