The City of Kingston forms the centre of a larger area which now includes (1998 amalgamation) the former Townships of Kingston and Pittsburgh. According to the 1991 Census its combined population (120,060 persons, including 4,050 francophones) makes this area the largest urban centre between Montreal and Toronto. It enjoys a mild climate due in major part to its strategic location (44°13' N, 76°36' W) at the junction of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence river.
It all began in 1673 when Robert Cavelier de La Salle , acting on behalf of count Frontenac, then governor of Nouvelle-France, selected the site of Cataraqui (present day Kingston) for the building of a fortified trading post to be defended by a small garrison. Three years later, the fort was enlarged in stone, and a school, chapel and other buildings were put up. A few families of settlers cleared the land to grow food for their own needs and those of the fort inhabitants. This chapter of history lasted 85 years under the French regime, but came to an abrupt end when, in 1758, the fort was captured by Lieutenant-Colonel John Bradstreet.
Kingston celebrated in 1996 its 150th anniversary of incorporation as a city, featuring a successful blend of old and modern tradition. The elegant limestone buildings which stand alongside impressive condominiums, have earned it the popular nickname of "limestone city". The long tradition of ship building is kept alive by firms such as MetalCraft Marine which has supplied the Canadian Coast Guard with their latest vessel.
Kingston is justifiably proud that the Canadian Navy named in its honour the Kingston-class of maritime coastal defence vessel. The first ship in this class, HMCS Kingston began its service in 1995.
A number of international manufacturers have located in Greater Kingston and are producing synthetic fibers, sheet aluminum, communications cables, and automotive parts. Moreover, some of these firms have established significant research and development facilities. The area is also a major education centre, where French as a First Language is fully available, either with the Public system or in the Separate schools. Students may pursue their studies at St. Lawrence College, at Queen's University, or else go the Royal Military College / Collège militaire royal, a fully bilingual university which has hosted the Kingston & District Regional Heritage Fair since 1995. Moreover, the College was the site in July 1997 of the National Heritage Fair which featured exibits by students from all areas of the country!
Visitors and residents benefit year round from a large offering of local events. Every February, for almost three-quarters of a century, a "square puck" competition has been held in Kingston Harbour between RMC/CMR and West Point U.S. Military Academy. Year round, people may visit several museums in the area, of which the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes is one of my favourites. During summer, people can attend the Busker Rendez-vous, the Folklore days, the world-class Sailing Regatta known as , as well as the CAN-AM Jazz Festival. The Fort Henry Guard re-enacts 19th century army drills and delights audiences with their weekly Sunset Ceremonies. For those that prefer television, you may check the TV-Guide on-line.