Stepping out – Week 10

I have lived downtown for ten years and yet I did not know that there is a Sunday Market at the Memorial Centre (Kingston). In keeping with my goal of learning more about my community through walking every street in the Kingston core, I headed over to the Memorial Centre this morning.

I discovered a busy market with vendors from near and far selling local goods and produce.. I chatted with a baker from Kemptville and bought a bacon butter tart from them before they were all gone (by 10:15 am).

I also picked up some frozen Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls that I will have for dinner from a vendor from Lyn, Ontario. (I didn’t know where that is. It is a hamlet just west of Brockville.) There were also lots of stalls selling fresh local produce and greens, iincluding dandelion leaves in bunches that look like a head of lettuce and bunches of garlic scapes (the green tops with the little flower bud at the top).

If you are a Kingstonian and have not yet checked out this Sunday market, give it a go. I will be back for sure.

And while we were wandering the neighbourhood, Anne-Marie and Dave flagged us down to go for coffee at the nearby Coffee Way. We had lots of theatre chat and I learned about Connor’s little venture selling good condition LEGO sets. If you want some Vintage LEGO, let me know and I will put you in touch with him.

On my way along Montreal Street I encountered this delightful streetside garden, just a few steps from Blakey’s Flower Shop.

All in all it was a great Sunday morning. By noon I had walked 10 km, visited with friends, found a new market and come home with something special that I can warm up for dinner. Ahh, summer.

Stepping out – Week 9

It’s crazy, really. Why do we think we need to go farther afield to find interesting things to explore. Within a few blocks of where I live are two absolutely beautiful cathedrals. I rarely go into them. But when I travel, if I see a church I always go in, sit for a few moments to soak up the ambience and reflect.

St Mary’s Cathedral on Johnson Street in Kingston is really magnificent inside. The cornerstone for the present building was laid in 1843 and the cathedral, much as it remains today, was constructed over the next five years. Over a few years around 1990, a seven million dollar restoration of the original building was done. The limestone was carefully restored or replaced and one of the walls and buttresses was replaced.

The interior of this building is stunning and inspirational. Guided tours are available throughout the summer on Weekdays (except Wednesday) from 1-5. Check this wonderful building out.

St George’s Cathedral is more familiar to me as I have been to concerts there (the acoustics are wonderful) and even last Christmas Eve I wandered in to just sit in the back pew and absorb the peace. St George’s Cathedral was built in 1862, replacing a smaller wooden St George’s church that, from 1792, was located opposite the Market Square ( about where Morrison’s Restaurant is now) . It was enlarged between 1891 and 1894 but then much of the roof and interior was destroyed by fire in 1899. It was quickly repaired to be as it appears now, 120 years later.

St George’s also has a beautiful interior and throughout the summer the doors are open for visitors to come into the church and witness its grandeur.

I suspect that many visitors to Kingston admire these churches but how often do local residents who are not part of these congregations drop in to spend a few moments of quiet and absorb the grandeur that is part of our community? Both are worth a visit.

To show just how close to home these wonderful churches are to me, I took this photo from the rooftop of my apartment building. The spire of St Mary’s is in the left upper horizon and the dome of St George’s is in the middle right third of this photo.

Stepping out – Week 8

As summery weather finally hit us this week, I took the opportunity to get up early to watch the sun come up on my own home town. When I travel I often post video montages of the cities in different countries so I thought it appropriate to share one of my own home town, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

These scenes were shot between 5:30 am and 6, all within a few blocks of home, when the streets were quiet and serene. Enjoy this little tour of my neighbourhood.

Stepping out – Week 7

It’s getting a bit more difficult to walk the streets where I have not yet been in the Kingston core since it is farther just to get to them. But I continue with my quest to cover all the core Kingston Streets in the next several weeks. So far this where I have been since early May.

I’ve walked all the streets marked in yellow on this map of Kingston’s core.

Part of my challenge was not just to walk but also to stop to notice and discover and chat and I have also realized that there are a lot of interesting places right in my own neighbourhood that I have not really explored.

For example, this week I ventured into the Pump House Steam Museum that is at the base of West Street. In addition to the permanent exhibits about the building and it’s contribution to providing water to Kingston there is a new display outlining the changes along Ontario Street (where I live) over the past couple of centuries. ( I notice that there is a free curated historical walk to explore along Ontario Street on Saturday June 29 at 11 from the museum. I plan to take my granddaughter. Ice cream at White Mountain after the walk might be the teaser.)

The Pumphouse building was built in 1849 at which time it started to provide piped water to the community, privately at first but later as a public utility. Prior to this clean water was at a premium in the city and typhoid and cholera epidemics were not uncommon.

The Kingston waterfront was not always the pleasant, clean, accessible place that it is today. The apartment building where I live is called “The Locomotive” because it is on the site of a factory that once built steam engines, including the Spirit of John A that is now on display across from City Hall. Shipbuilding and trade by ship along the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River was once the main activity by the waterfront here. The railway took over in the late 1800’s.

In the photo above, I have blended two pictures taken at what is now Confederation Basin. I took the one on the right this morning. The left half is from 1953 when there were still tracks running through what is now the park where the fountain is in front of City Hall. The train is leaving a bit of a carbon footprint, I think.

Also a block from where I live is a restaurant that is now PJ Murphy’s Irish Gastro Pub. It used to be Frankie Pesto’s. Within a week of the new owners taking over this building it had a sign outside saying that it had been voted Kingston’s #1 Irish Gastro Pub. I wondered who had even been in it yet, let alone who was doing the voting. Then I realized that it is Kingston’s ONLY Irish Gastro Pub.

The building is where the Grand Trunk Railway passenger station was from 1886 to 1929. Apparently the ticket agent, J.P. Hanley, sold steamship line tickets, railway tickets and also operated an insurance office. The station became known as Hanley Station. The Grand Trunk railway was in competition with the Kingston & Pembroke line that became known as the Kick and Push. The station that is now the Tourist Office across from City hall was for the K&P.

The Grand Trunk Passenger office around 1900 and PJ Murphy’s today.

My neighbourhood must have been a busy one in those days. I suspect I would have loved it then as much as I do now.

So if you have stuck with me this far, here is the bonus that ties all this together. At the Pumphouse Steam Museum is a room full of model trains. I had great fun pushing the buttons to make them run. And there in the corner was the train set that was used in the opening of the Friendly Giant. Find the boot. Now look up. Look way up.

Stepping out – Week 6

June 6-12

Part of my plan to take more notice of things around me as I walk will be to stop and talk with people from time to time. I like to chat and last week I had two interesting and illuminating conversations with strangers.

As I walked along Wellington Street I glanced up at the little passageway that is marked “Martello Alley“. It looked colourful so I stopped to take a photo. I always thought that this was an antique dealer’s place and had never ventured in. The proprietor, David Dossett, obviously another extrovert, wearing a shirt splattered with paint, saw me taking the photo and called me in.

Turns out it is not an antique dealer at all but a very eclectic little collection of items that are locally made and paintings and photos and posters made by local artisans. I ended up there chatting with David for over half an hour and only skimmed the surface of all the bits and pieces there are to explore. Got some colourful photos, too. Drop in sometime. David will give you a tour.

As I was walking along the lakeshore there was a group of young men clustered around some kind of apparatus with a remote control. Turns out they are from McGill and are attending a robotic conference at Queens this week. They have been working for four years on a robotic swimmer. Of course I had to stay around to watch them try it out in the water.

The machine, just bigger than a breadbox and with claw-like arms, literally crawled into the water from the shoreline, swam around and then crawled out onto shore. I will upload a short video to Youtube as it is kind of hard to describe.

Throwback to the 1830’s and a “sort of” relative

This week I have been working in Toronto and I took it upon myself go seek out this plaque that acknowledges a very distant relative who had a significant role in Ontario history.

Peter Matthews (1790-1838) was married to my fourth great aunt, Hannah Major. Hannah’s, brother, Henry Major (1808-1887) was my third great grandfather. The Major family originated in Caven, Ireland, moved to the Maritimes in 1775 and then to the Pickering district of Ontario where they owned a sawmill in – wait for it – Majorville, a little community near Highway 7, just north of Whitby that is now known as Whitevale. The White family took over the district from the Majors in the 1840’s and thus renamed the town. Sounds a bit like the Wild West.

Peter Matthews was born near Belleville Ontario, the son of United Empire Loyalists. He and Hannah Major were married in 1811 when she was 15 years old. They had 8 children and she died at age 33. I don’t know much more about Hannah but there is a lot of information about her husband Peter who farmed at first but subsequently became a political figure and local martyr/hero.

During the war of 1812, Peter fought under General Brock. Later, he became involved with the rebels around Toronto led by William Lyon MacKenzie who were protesting and fighting the Family Compact group that controlled Upper Canada. This was thirty years before Canada became Canada and Ontario was Ontario. Peter ended up leading a group of 1000 rag-tag protesters against the government soldiers in December 1837. They were soundly defeated and Peter and his co-conspirator, Samuel Lount were captured and tried for treason. Once convicted, they were held in a dirty small jail cell and eventually they were hanged in a spectacle execution that took place near the old Courthouse, now very close to the King Edward Hotel around King and Yonge Streets. The city limits ( see the map below) were at about where Dundas Square is now. Montgomery’s tavern, dubbed the Rebel Camp was at approximately present day Yonge and Eglinton.

The execution was done, in part, to make an example of these rebels who, in fact, were trying to advocate for a fairer government. Their bodies were thrown in the Potters Cemetery initially but were later moved to Toronto Necropolis Cemetery where a monument bearing the inscription below was erected in 1898. Peter was also posthumously pardoned by Queen Victoria.

This week I found the plaque on a building at 1 Toronto Street marking the gallows spot where Peter Matthews and Ssmuel Lount were hanged. There are other monuments and plaques at the cemetery and in Pickering.

My connection with this fellow – a sort of six degrees of separation – is somewhat remote and not truly ancestral but it is intriguing to read about his exploits and demise and know that my thrice great grandparents and the rest of the Major Family must have found all this quite disruptive and disturbing.

Stepping out – Week 5

May 30-June 5

I am back home in Kingston and have picked up where I left off exploring my home town after two weeks tramping around cities in the U.K. and Europe.

If you didn’t see what my mission is in the next few months you can find more about it here. My plan is to get some exercise while the weather is good and at the same time take more notice of what is surrounding me. And share photos each week of discoveries I have made on my walks.

This old building was one of the first breweries in the core of old Kingston. It was built by James Robbins in 1793. It underwent name changes from Robbins Brewery to Kingston Brewery to Bajus Brewery and was operated by the Bajus family until the 1920s. The brewing industry was an important part of this district and what is now Rideau Street was called Brewery Street.

Across the street is s dry dock that was opened by Sir John A MacDonald and has been operational since the 1870’s. This week they are preparing it to bring in a houseboat for renovations.

This property has also been the site of boat building since 1676. Metalcraft Marine has used the property since the 1980’s to build Fire/Rescue/Patrol boats that are sent all over North America (like this one that is soon headed to Miami, Florida.)

Lots of flowering trees this week, including these two beauties in front of a house on King Street that was built in 1841. At that time the farm lot across the street (now City Park) was being considered as a site for the Canadian Parliament Buildings.

And, high water levels in Lake Ontario caused a bit of flooding, including the Parking Lot and entry to the Kingston Yacht Club. This mother duck took advantage of the puddle to teach her ducklings to swim.

My friend, Sue, gave me the guided tour around the Rideau Street neighbourhood she lived in as a child. She pointed out the church where her brother used to go to sales to buy Christmas gifts more than 50 years ago and as we approached the church…they had a rummage sale on. Some things just don’t change.

Stepping way out – Week 4

May 23-29

It has been another whirlwind week in several ports, all walkable and interesting. I will include one photo from each port. I will pick photos that are different from those on my Facebook page videos. Tomorrow I head back to Canada so the Kingston project will resume.

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Although I spend a bit of time in the city, mainly seeing the peace wall and learning about their “troubles”, much of the day was out by the seaside at a place called The Giants Causeway. Great weather and a good choice for an excursion.

Dublin, Republic of Ireland

I had a great day wandering around Dublin, stopping at a museum or two and riding a bit further afield on the hop-on-hop-off bus.

Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, France

Got to put up a photo of the Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Had a wonderful quiet Sunday just strolling and soaking up the ambience.

Bruges, Belgium

A delightful little city with lots of canals and interesting streets…and tourists.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

A transit strike emptied the streets of trams and buses and made it more open for walking. I walked a record 33,344 steps in Amsterdam on that day.

And a bonus jump ahead to Thursday

Oslo, Norway

Despite it being s very rainy day I found Oslo to be clean, with interesting architecture and lots of gardens and museums. If I were to pick one city to return to explore more, it would be Oslo. Next cruise along the Norway Fjords?

Stepping way out – Week 3

May 16-22

I always thought that being on a cruise would be restrictive and I would feel antsy and not get enough exercise. I was wrong,

For the past week I have been cruising on the Holland America Ship, Zuiderdam, around the North Sea and U.K. I have been easily able to get in my 10,500 steps a day. In fact my phone tells me that in the past week I have well over 10km a day.

I will post a few photos of where my feet have taken me in the past week. I am posting these from my phone so I may have to adjust the formatting once I get home.

Copenhagen

I headed straight for this picturesque little canal.

Edinburgh

Of course one has to walk the Royal mile and visit St . Giles.

Invergordon, Scotland

Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland.

I found this in Wikipedia about the Church bells at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall.

“In 1671, when the tower of the church was struck by lightning and burned, the bells fell into the church. It is said that townspeople hurried soft material into the church to catch the bells, should they fall, but despite their efforts, the largest bell did suffer a rift.[6]

Therefore, in July 1682, the church authorities contracted with Alexander Geddes, merchant in Kirkwall, to deliver the bell to Amsterdam, where it was recast by Claudius Fremy. On arrival in Amsterdam, the bell was weighed and was found to be 1,500 pounds (680 kg). It lost 65 pounds (29 kg) in casting, but 193 pounds (88 kg) pounds of “new metal” was added, resulting in a finished weight of 1,528 pounds (693 kg). The new tongue in the bell weighed 46 pounds (21 kg). Geddes returned the bell to Kirkwall on 23 August of the same year.”

Isle of Lewis, Hebrides Islands

Stepping out – Week 2

May 7-15

I have walked along in front of Grant Hall with its signature clock tower (completed in 1905) and Theological College (built in 1879-80) many times but didn’t realize that it has been designated as “Professor’s Walk” according to a plaque posted where it starts on University Avenue.

I took this quick little stroll along Professor’s walk this week. Past the towers of Grant Hall and Theological College.

I found this gaggle of friends on the street at a garage sale on Saturday. Hot dogs, drink and chips for $4. Proceeds to the Special Olympics.

We miss a lot by not looking up. I was astounded how many buildings in the Kingston core have some sort of turret or tower. It must have been a stylish addition 150 years ago. Some of these I have walked past many times but not noticed. Do you recognize any of them?

McIntosh Castle, below is not really a castle but a big house at the corner of West Street and Sydenham Streets. The curious little glass “widows walk” with windows all around it was added shortly after the house was constructed in the early 1880’s. Local legend has it that it was build so the lady of the house could take her tea up there and have a private box seat for the public hangings that took place in front of the Frontenac County Courthouse across the street.

It was Mother’s Day this week and I spent some time watching this mother tending to her young. She was a bit cautious at first but eventually returned a few times with worms for the baby birds that were under the eve of this house on Earl Street. It took me a while to get these shots. I think the neighbors were likely wondering what the heck I was doing.

This is a row of houses on Sydenham Street that I had never really “noticed” before. Lots of character.

And, of course, I stopped often to soak up the colour of the spring flowers.

Next week will be a change of venue as I tramp around some Northern European cities.

If you missed Week 1 you can find it here.