Day of Reckoning 

Two days of blurred memories plus two more in relative non-action ended my 40 day trip to Ontario and Manitoba. There was a time when going anywhere had seemed unlikely with a sick kitty and so many changes to my itinerary. So, I did not make it to Churchill, New York or Newfoundland this summer; instead I had a great time getting to know Kingston without freezing, and visiting the one museum in WinnipegI had been wanting to see. I even put in a two night train trip.

Which is where I will start this last Canada 2017 entry. The day I was to leave started with a question mark. Just how late would my train from Toronto be? I departed Kingston without an answer. All I knew was that the smoke and fires in BC had caused a delay of at least three hours. It ended up being close to six. I had arrived at Union Station early enough to know I would most likely have a comfortable wait before the original departure time. That ended up being an excruciating time standing in line for three hours – after sitting for the first few I finally moved to where a line was beginning. I did not want to be at the end of a shifting line. A line that seemed to be in the wrong place. It was. Fortunately, I kept an eye on signs and eventually asked if all the relatively young passengers waiting were Canada 150 ticket holders. They were. Those of us who paid higher fares shifted over to a new line. I was 7th in line.


Back to the excruciating part. I choose to not sit on floors because it is difficult for me to easily jump up if necessary. This time I also had increasing swelling and pain caused by three very nasty mosquito bites from the previous night of sitting on the dock of the bay for dinner. Closer inspection showed another three bites on my foot with one not looking great. I did finally cave in and sat at a nearby seat where I could see my bags. Not that I was worried, by this time we were all looking out for each other. On more than one occasion it was suggested I really should take a rest. By 10:00pm the lines had become two writhing lines of humanity. The Canada 150 youth in one much longer line, and the rest of us. (Canada 150 was a one month $150.00 pass available to 1867 youth only for the month of July – crashed the system when offered, sold out in minutes) Via fed us sandwiches, cookies and bottles of water. Hurray Via! I was only still standing with that sustenance and sheer willpower by this time. 


Much of the actual trip was blurred with pain and probably an infection at the bite sites. I later found out that staph infections are common when bites are bad. I did have the Rx cream with an antibiotic in it that I carefully applied. When the commissary was open I also bagged ice. My leg looked so bad I ended up have two seats to myself the whole trip to Winnipeg. Also the corner seat in the small lounge area most of the time where I could rest my leg. I dozed a lot. First time I have not been very interested in the landscape slipping by. Of course, leaving Toronto at 2:00am did mean everyone was ready for sleep.
18 days later these three bites are still visible

This is the only note I wrote. Passed lovely Malachi – better known as Lake of the Woods, northern ON. Soon after the trees were scrubbier and many in stages of bareness or grey. Looked marshy out there and hot at 8:30am. Blue sky. Despite the AC it was time to leave the dome car as the sun beat down. 

The photos behind the fence were at a stop somewhere along the line, the paintings had seen better days. A sad tale of many rail stops now barely noticed.


We arrived in Winnipeg only three hours late, picked up time somewhere. I have never given Winnipeg a positive review. This time I can. I hopped on a bus, backtracked when I got off too late, found my hostel at the university and dumped my bags in the office – check in would not be until 4:00 (despite an email saying 3:00). I decided to head to the Forks for lunch and coffee. An email to my 90+ year old aunt ensured I would see her and my cousin the following day.  Still in pain I was checked in and in bed by 8:00. The next day my only plan was to visit the museum.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Opened in 2014, (to the best of my recollection it had been delayed) mere months after I had been in Winnipeg on a cross Canada trip, the admission was $18.00 for a full day with the option to leave and return is desired. I had to wait about an hour – they did not open until 10:00. That gave me the opportunity to take photos without people wandering into my view and makecsome observations. The entrance, especially once leaving when I discovered locked doors, made me think of a birth canal. The red sandstone, high wall that leads to the lower entrance was curved and seemed like a place of temporary comfort (versus what a birth canal is really like) before being expelled onto the walkway or into the museum itself. I doubt that was the intention. Inside did not make me imagine a womb.


There are eight levels. I opted to start at the Tower of Hope. They are not kidding when they say you “may not be comfortable…on the indoor viewing platform. Even the glass elevator ride was rather heart pumping. The 100 metre (23 storeys) tower and view was worth the slight vertigo I had. I quickly headed for the stairs. Each level widens slightly.


As I walked down to each level it became clear that I could not effectively describe each gallery without finding fault with who we, people of all walks, are. However, I did see promise for the future, not in the galleries, but in the people working and visiting.  As I watched one short clip in the Our Canada, My Story my eyes were drawn to a lower scrim hanging from a screen of information where I was sure I could see dancing feet. Peeping between the TV screen and the divider I saw a lone security guard moving with the fluidity of a dancer – he was practicing the Argentinian Tango. I was asked. He explained that dance is so much a part of his life he is sometimes unaware he does this. I forget where he was from, perhaps he did not say – his accent told me English is probably not his first language. Nor French. The juxtaposition was so perfect it had to be happenstance.

The architecture is impressive. The museum is a stunning building, despite it appearing to be the helmet worn by the little alien from Bugs Bunny. Inside is beautiful. Visitors generally start on the ground floor with the intentional focus of “a journey from darkness to light.” Only once was I ‘chastised’ for beginning at the top. I am sure the person meant well by telling there is so much more to see on the first three floors. I however think it is just as important to look back from the light to recall the darkness. Otherwise it can become too easy to be bogged down in what cannot be changed. That is the only problem I had, there were biases, there were many representations of dreadful lack of human rights, but there did not appear to be enough balance of that changing. Therefore, I focussed on the light – as seen in photos of the ramps I took.


I took a two hour break to visit with my aunt and cousin at the nearby Forks, I hope I am still as active at 92! Then admired some artists working on a piece slated for a parking lot of all things. It was time to repack for an early morning taxi. This was the end of my Canada 150. Ahead of me China and Vietnam were waiting.

10,000 , 11,000, 17,000, 6000 steps over the four days going home.
Day of reckoning – crunching the numbers.

Steps: 400,000 = 305km = 7.5km avg per day. I can live with that.

I took an extra $400..00 to cover Winnipeg expenses and beyond. I did not take careful records for about the last five days. The UWin Hostel was $160.00; I bought lunch at the Taj – a reasonably priced place downtown I like to visit whenever in Kingston, 40.00; food for the train trip (and a loaf of focaccia for my Daughter) maybe $20.00; a final Crave coffee because I wanted plastic cutlery, 2.50. Of course all of these numbers were figured out while on the train so I then had time to worry! All I needed was money for two days of meals, the sky train, bus and ferry and then fare for a bus home. I decided there was not much I could do until the station and so long as I had $100 left after the hostel I would be fine. Quick calculation indicates I spent on average $50.00 based on $2000 for expenses. I also had a direct flight to Victoria so only a bus ride home where my daughter met me at the stop to help carry things.

To Market, to Market

Some of the fare at the two markets I visited in Kingston was fabulous! A veritable feast.

Very similar to Portuguese egg tarts sold in Macau and China. I have been craving these.
As the card says, bao.zi is the favourite snack food in China. I can barely wait until Sep 18th when I will be in Shanghai. I know some pretty good places!
Nothing like fresh, local strawberries
I did not buy any; just admired them
Lovely, simple bunches of flowers.
Samples of churros. Delicious!
Of course I bought lettuce!
Grab a handful and toss in a sandwich or on a salad.
I loved how the zucchini was displayed
Sour dough bread – manna.
Heavenly!

Last Days Kingston

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.

Sunset from the dock of WIG

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

Kingston Penitentiary Tour

The Pen never got less intimidating as we made our way. Birds soaring free – unintentional taunting.
Main entrance centre of building. Everywhere there is fencing. This is where a messenger was shot and killed by a trusted inmate.

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.

Grilled, bars, fences everywhere. No sections were opened in simultaneously.
The Hub. No glass until after the 1971 riot. Guards controlled all the levels, individual cells and movement from here.
 

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. 

Cells we were not allowed to view. Open and closed doors – unsettling.

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 Hole – solitary confinement. Probably where guides want to shove those with stupid questions.
‘Private’ cells for all inmates by the time the Pen closed. Meals were taken at anchored McDonald’s style tables in across from the cells. Less fuss, no integration.

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.

All mail was read before going on to various departments and outside.

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.

The tables and seats were removed. No recollection why.

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. 

This brought to mind, Like sheep to the slaughter. It was the main trades shop. The only person looking up is my grandson. At least he was being aware of his environment.
Photo does not do the brickwork of the ceiling justice. Beautiful, sharp curves.
Although built as a prison it has some aesthetic architecture.

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.
My interpretation was a fiery Phoenix entering, a mute swan emerging.

40.00 Kingston Pen; 15.00 lunch for two; 13000 steps

A Quieter Day: Art and Health

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.

Columns, the arch, and a wrought iron rail around the small balcony. Such detail.
Most likely leaded windows also.
The pieces under the eaves remind me of Chinese temples.

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.

Bay window. Probably overlooked a garden at one time.
The chimney.

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. 

Top to bottom: Pan Chancho Bakery (SIL worked there) and their goods are wonderful; Curry Original, my favourite eatery; Old Farm Fine Foods.
Kingston Brewing Company.

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 have a penguin named Gulliver, from Shanghai, who is too big to travel in my day pack.

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. 
Far more books are sitting desks when studying nursing these days!
The cake from home is a nice touch.


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