Some of the fare at the two markets I visited in Kingston was fabulous! A veritable feast.
A last Trolley Tour, still too hot for walking tour of the Royal Military College so I just enjoyed the ride. Also my last breakfast at Crave, yogurt and coffee. Later I would visit Sipp’s for a raspberry lemon mousse and coffee while sitting under the patio umbrellas and listening to a sole violinist playing at the corner of the Springer Market – not operating. I took my time before f slowly wending my way up the shady side of the now very familiar Princess St., stopping to window shop until I met my daughter and her husband for lunch. We did not know if we would have time to meet the follow no day before my train.
They suggested a place I had yet to try – Harper’s Burger Bar. I tend to stay away places that have Burger and bar on their name. I was assured I would be happy with the choice. The menu does indeed focus on burgers. Fortunately they have a slider trio that can be made up of three selections of their regular size choices. Only one could not be made as a slider; considering there were ten others to pick from I did not have too much difficulty. All were beef patties on tiny buns with ‘toppings’ top and bottom. I have never understood why cooks leave one half of the bun bare. I could not believe I did not take photos!
Lala Land: goat cheese, roasted red pepper, avocado spread, arugula, pesto mayo
Bleu: blue cheese, soya glazed ‘shrooms’, bacon, Kansas City BBQ sauce (no idea what makes Kansas City special)
Delicious: havarti, onion straws, avocado spread, more of that Kansas BBQ sauce
All with a small helping of zingy coleslaw.
Although it sounds like a lot of food the meat equalled one burger. Everything was perfectly proportioned. That first bite absolutely divine! As were all the others. I loved the sliders, and May seriously consider searching for miniature buns for home if I ever have a yearning for a hamburger on a bun. Not that I ate the tops. The burgers were delicious, moist, garnished with superb ingredients, the buns with a smear of condiment top and bottom! (It really is an issue I have) Best of all, I could easily slide off the bit on the bun I did not want.
My SIL paid, we were finished with enough time to walk my daughter back to work to say our final farewells before I headed to my other daughter’s car. I needed to walk off lunch as we were heading to Wolfe Island for dinner with her friend and family just days before they moved west. I should have hitched a ride.
We nearly headed over without them, we walked on only to realize their vehicle had been one of a few unable to drive on. Thank goodness the ferry had not already been cast off. The truck was parked, we waited an hour and all walked on instead. It was such a lovely evening that a vehicle was not necessary. We were also heading to Wolfe Island Grill again. Except we had a reservation – unlike many who were on the same ferry as us. Once again, lovely setting. Only drawbacks were the mosquito bites I found later that night and an inedible Caesar salad. I ate the chicken for the protein – which I said was good only to stop my D from worrying – it was so-so. Too bad, I had enjoyed my first visit to the island and WIG immensely just four days earlier.
With time to wander a bit before catching the ferry back we walked towards the only hotel nearby where an artist was painting a giant mural on the side wall. Of course General Wolfe Hotel needed a large artist’s rendition of Wolfe. There were also sketched in pictures showing life on Wolfe Island. I will have to check it out next time I am in Kingston.
Last morning, I was of course all packed. We headed to town to hit the market where I bought some supplies for my train trip. Squeaky Wilton cheese, raspberries, a couple of treats. We even had enough time for a quick visit to say a final, final farewell to my other daughter.
Sad to say, I was on my way, had to leave my little girls in Kingston town.
Still counting: 7.40 breakfast; 10.00 treat; 19000 steps
If all the paperwork we had to sign was any indication it would seem some clever person had the brainstorm to make a visit to the decommissioned Pen as real as possible. Once our tickets were paid, no discount for youth 14 and up, we then had to print several pages each to sign our lives away. With initials indicating we had read each section. Which I managed to do in the wrong place. They are thorough, came back to me to initial in the marked spots. Tours are blocked by time and people must arrive 20minutes ahead of their block if they do not want to be left behind. There are no refunds for rescheduling. Not a problem when I need to be somewhere – we were so early I asked if we could join an earlier tour. Fortunately the well oiled machinery that makes the tours work run somewhat in an old fashioned order – much is on paper. A quick look, count, and check with a guide and we were in. We were officially in the blue group.
Some reminders before we started: bags subject to search, no AC or heat, no recordings (photos allowed), do not leave your designated group for any reason. We sat passively in a section of what was once a Family Visit area. My first thought was if we all seemed rather shellshocked what must it have been like for new prisoners? Of course we knew we would be leaving and the inmates who had been incarcerated were there because they had been found guilty of a major crime. Kingston Pen had been a maximum security prison.
It was made very clear to not ask about any of the well-known, notorious names, by law no information could be divulged. Of course one idiot did indeed ask about one prisoner. Yes, any Canadian in the group knew about him, but I certainly did not need to be reminded. Our guide managed to not roll her eyes, took a noticeable breath and reiterated that prisoners who had been incarcerated at Kingston Pen could not be discussed – and shut down the conversation.
The original Pen was built between 1833-1834, 154 cells in 5 tiers plus various outbuildings and residences for the administration. Any person working at the Pen had to be within hearing range of the bell that rang every day, if it rang out any time other than to announce the beginning and end of the day that was the signal that all staff were to come running. The cells were miserable, the museum across the street has a model of what they were like – step inside for size – a mere 27″ wide, 8′ deep and 6’7″ high. A man or woman would not be able to stretch from side to side, nor up. Cells remained this size until renovations between 1895-1906. For the first 99 years women were also sent to Kingston Pen although segregated from the men. Even children as young as 8 were imprisoned for petty theft. By the time the Penitentiary closed there were 431 cells and 120 rehab beds and had expanded to include shops, an education program, a palliative care unit, and various programs or services ranging from health care to religious.
Some of the shops, and eventually classes for credit, included carpentry, tailoring, mattress making and barbering. As we passed each sector we were greeted by former corrections staff who had at one time been employed at the Pen. One story about the barbers was that staff and prisoners could use the services provided for $2.00 per year! I still wonder if I misheard that. Cuts, perms and colours were all offered as this was a skill that could be used outside prison. Although wages were horrendously low, shop work up to $8.00 per day, general work 6.90 per day, skills learned could lead to outside work after terms were served. Half the wages were placed into a bank account and half could be used for purchases at the commissary; however, nothing was less expensive than outside the walls – a coke inside was a luxury.
There were three major riots, 1932, 1954, 1971. There were also several escapes and attempted escapes. One story we heard was about John Kennedy, born, lived, worked and died in the Pen. His father had been a messenger and raised his family within the walls of the Penitentiary. In 1948 John Kennedy, also a messenger, was shot by a prisoner, who had smuggled a gun into the car Kennedy was driving. As Kennedy was leaving the prison on an errand he was jumped – an excellent personal account can be found at thewhig.com/remembering uncle johnny – that prisoner was the last to be hanged at the Frontenac County Jail.
I have no idea if there was a Scared Straight program that might have allowed for schools to visit the prison, it sure would have had me walk the straight and narrow. Perhaps it was the very real feeling of being caged or trapped so far removed from the outside. Although not enclosed prior to the 1971 the Hub, where we were provided with a fascinating history and insight of its purpose, was where each cell corridor ran from, commonly known as a ‘range’. This was where guards kept control of all the coming and going of prisoners top to bottom. Looking down one corridor was a row of doors held sharply at even angles – I had a vision of men just gone with barely a whispered protest. Another range of heavy cell doors shutting out all hope. After the riot the Hub was enclosed with glass and an armoury 15′ deep was built (dug?) in the 1990s. Sort of closing the gate after the horse got out.
Some interesting facts: inmates were allowed up to $1500 in their cell. Foreign national inmates were subject to deportation upon release. In 1990 the complex was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada, 13 years before it was shut down. To date, being an Historic Site, along with the Women’s Prison, there has not been any decisions made for using the prime space.
As the years advanced and programs were instituted to improve the quality of life for prisoners, particularly as the population was aging, facilities also had a bit of a facelift. The Eagle and the Phoenix mural, done in the Regional Treatment Centre – repurposed from the gym as a offender-patient space – was painted by urban artists in 2003 as a gift to the inmates and staff. It certainly looks much nicer than bare brick walls. I found here, listening to a former nurse, talk about his time at the prison, a staff member with less of the hard edge presented by all the other former corrections staff. There was no question that they would never have been on friendly terms with any prisoner – they were guilty as charged. When the reasonable question about prisoners whose sentences were overturned was asked one member said until that time the inmates were always guilty. It was an interesting tour I was happy to leave.
40.00 Kingston Pen; 15.00 lunch for two; 13000 steps
As the middle of the week loomed I wanted to fit in as much as I still could without becoming worn out. The weather gods were done with being kind to me, the temperature and humid descended like a hot, wet blanket. I spent longer than usual at my favourite coffee haunt, tucked in my corner reading, dawdling over coffee and dreading a step outdoors. However, I had two goals, visit the Martello Alley Gallery and the Museum of Health Care.
As I walked to my coffee I decided to go down one street where I had fallen love with the gorgeous eaves, scrollwork and chimney of one home. Of course I neglected to jot down, or take a picture, of the actual street name and a triple check of my walking tour booklet had no reference. Even the bay window on one side had garlands set into the stonework. Excellent craftsmanship.
The gallery was a return visit; I had stumbled across their alleyway and door step a couple of winters earlier when searching for some warmth from one of my crazy, snowy days – I believe they were the only place open beyond Princess St. They are now in their third year. Since then they have built quite a following and I am happy to support their efforts to have artists work and sell their pieces from the collective. (I have no idea if that is the terminology they use, just seems to fit). My main discovery was a painter who goes by the nickname Tully. His work looks as though he uses coloured pencils; I was very happy to meet him at the gallery to see him working on a piece of Toronto architecture – buildings being his main focus – and to discover he actually uses very fine brushes and meticulous work. Over time I have collected four of his prints – all places I have visited. This time it was one of the Kingston Brewing Company. I had seriously considered a second, of Sipps, until I started to wonder how much more wall space I might have.
My lunch break was a visit with my daughter, she really does have an easy job. On my way I stopped to ask if my travel companions could have their photo with the window display at Rocking Horse Toys. The event depicted will be on August 5th, Princess St. will be closed down and family fun will include lots of colour and laughs. I rather wish I could be there.
I then headed out for a short Trolley ride (having left the print at the store) to the stop closest to the Museum of Healthcare where I spent a pleasant hour viewing various medical contraptions, reading extensive explanations of turn of the 19th c. medical practices, nursing school and some history of Kingston General Hospital. (KGH) The Ann Baillie Building was built in 1904 as accommodation for nursing students. It sits very close to Lake Ontario and would have had an unobstructed view of the lake at the time. A lovely setting to study in.The single room for student nurses was larger than I expected. Nursing has come a long way, from basically living at, and learning on, the job without pay. Students had to pay the princely sum of $64.00 for a degree. Now they receive a four degree, and are nearly always guaranteed a job somewhere in the health field.
I timed my outing perfectly, walked to KGH next door, where I have a daughter who is a nurse, in time to meet, pick up my print then head to the country. I was ready for the Kingston Penitentiary with my grandson for the following day.
The numbers: Brought my lunch, spent it with D3 at her office ; $8.40 brkfst; $2.00 coffee; $28.00 Tulley print 15,000 steps
More Big Ticket Tours: final week
Each trolley and cruise tour I took brought me tantalizingly close to Fort Henry. It was finally time to hop off the trolley and enter through the gates into the past. Another nod to the wonders of the K-Pass, the price was included. However, the $20.00 per person, including a tour in English or French, seems reasonable. For anyone wanting to keep to a budget this is equal to about 8 cups of coffee. Make your own coffee = a day of history.
We were a small group, perhaps ten people including our guide. This meant no crowding, craning necks or being jostled on slippery stairs. Unfortunately, due to poor lighting it was not easy to take indoor photos using my iPhone that would turn out. That certainly made me appreciate the conditions the soldiers and their families lived in. Not that it was that much cozier for the officers.
First built during the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States – mostly over shipping rights – the Fort was built on a strategic location to protect trade and communication routes to Kingston. the Fort we now see was built as a fortification between 1832 – 1837 to protect the newly built Rideau Canal, only to be abandoned by the British in 1870 then by the Canadian military by 1891. Fort Henry became a a living museum in 1938. Someone was very forward thinking! It should be noted that not a single shot was fired against an enemy to the country. Great posting in my opinion.
The higher ranking officers lived in relative comfort with their own rooms, a desk, some personal belongings and meals. The latter were generally shared with fellow officers. The highest ranking officer had a larger room, a bigger and more comfortable bed, a nicer desk (this seemed important – probably for all the important daily events of the day, not that much was going on), a table for hosting guests and more personal items such as fishing gear and a special bed for a dog. Even a tub for bathing that neatly tucked under the bed. See http://www.royalengineers.ca Life In the British Army for an account of what life was like for officers and ordinary soldiers.
Of course the differences between officers -usually commissioned (bought their way in) and educated – and soldiers were glaring. Officers lived rather sumptuously in comparison to non-commissioned soldiers, with two separate kitchens and staff, whereas soldiers and their families shared barracks with each other, the wives or single males did cooking other than the daily bread. Bread was baked daily in massive ovens that held 120 loaves of whole wheat bread each to feed the garrison of about 350. To my recollections, no photos, there were two ovens. Whole wheat bread was considered inferior with white flour saved solely for the officers. No air conditioning. No windows. With an average of three children per family and only a curtain for privacy life was not a bed of roses. Women and children counted on the support of the soldier in their family. If I were a soldier I would be glad for the days when on duty!
The tour was very informative and well paced. With so few in the group I think we were lucky as it meant we could peruse the various rooms, most behind glass or rope, without feeling hustled out before another group arrived. I was glad to not have heard one of the ghost stories until later in the day from my daughter, I might have decided to move along a little faster. Seems there is a mischievous child, or young adult, who likes to hang out in the common kitchen, and goes about closing heavy corridor doors and moving items then gaily laughs as she skips away. (Or something along those lines) There was even a time when a guide could not open the doors – I think he started to believe there might be beings beyond us after all. I know my daughter does not disbelieve after working as a tour guide.
As we left the barracks and returned to the sunlight everyone breathed a little easier, it was dark, dank and low ceilinged where the population of the Fort had lived. Of course the Fort has the best view of the lake and surrounding land, from the battlements the vista is fabulous, looking out to Wolfe Island with its giant, rather mystical wind turbines in the distance, and Cedar Island sitting a scant distance from the Fort. One ghost story dates back to Sep 12, 1846 when an oncoming storm found 23 men headed to Fort Henry in a 12 man boat. 17 drowned. The distraught fiancée of one, who visited the landing area daily, was found drowned on the nearby promontory one cold day? To this day people say they have seen the young couple, Robert and Elizabeth, walking hand in hand or picnicking on the island.
Another story, this one told to me by the sentry posted as I was leaving, had some holes in it when mention of men dying of malaria in the trenches was made. However, I decided to seek out the Lady in the Orange Dress, first through my trusted source – my daughter – then online. I did not find anything about a ghost but, as mentioned in the tour, there had been a garrison hospital nearbya and there was a cholera outbreak in 1832, and seasonal malaria was a problem, possibly into 1924 when the hospital burned down. Considering the bites I received while in Kingston I would not be surprised!
The tour was finished just as the guard was going through drills. Lots of fun; and I grateful I managed to find some shade while I watched them go through their paces. I even had time to visit the Springer Market for some fresh produce before heading off to meet my daughter.
The Numbers: 5.00 coffee; 20.00 market; 15,000 steps