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.

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 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.

Celebrating diversity in K-town

As I was heading over to Food Basics to buy some Harvest Crunch (on sale at 2 boxes for $5 this week) I was halted for a few minutes by the Pride parade heading up Brock Street past the market.

The kiss

This photo of a same-sex kiss on the front page of the Kingston Whig Standard in August 1969 provoked outrage. Times have changed for the better in K-town.

 

I had a flashback to 1985, the first year I moved to Kingston, and the uproar that happened when two young men staged a “kiss-in” on the steps of City Hall on August 8.

 
I understand that the LGBT community had been appealing to the Kingston City Council to be able to hold pride celebrations of some sort for a couple of years and were being rebuked.  In order to draw some attention, this kiss-in,  in a kind of make-love-not-war theme,  was organized on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima in a kind of combination effort to promote some tolerance of sexual diversity and remind people that love is better than war.

 

 

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Enlarge this photo to see some of the letters to the Whig decrying the obscenity of “the kiss”.

The “ceremony” drew about 400 onlookers and the next day there was a photo on the front page of the Whig Standard.  What followed was outrage.  People threatened to cancel their paper for showing this “excessive and offensive” behaviour.   “ It just made me feel like throwing up.” said one.  “We were disgusted to see those two homosexuals in a loving embrace.” wrote another.

It took several years of requesting but finally in 1992, Mayor Helen Cooper proclaimed a Pride Day in Kingston.   

This year, the walkway in front of City Hall has been painted in rainbow colours and the parade had hundreds of folks who believe that there is strength in diversity walking together through the streets – Businesses, Church groups, Military, police, friends and even our  federal Member of Parliament (who happens to be the son of the mayor of the city in 1985).

diversityWatching the cheerful and colourful parade pass by, it made me happy to know that our society has grown much more tolerant and accepting of diversity.  I was also delighted last week to see this sign on a few lawns in Kingston and around the university.  I am glad that my grandchildren will grow up in a society that acknowledges diversity as a strength, not a threat.

One would hope that we can continue to celebrate our differences – religious, sexual orientation, political, cultural, – rather than see them as divisive.  Who knows, eventually, I may even become accepting of Toronto Maple Leafs fans.

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Just part of the Kingston Pride parade celebration in 2018.

Chop Chop

It’s true.

One of my blood relations, my seventh great grandfather, Dominicus Jordan, was slaughtered in 1703 by blows to the head with a hatchet.

This month, in the King’s Town Players production of Blood Relations, I am playing the role of Andrew Borden who, in real life, suffered the same fate.

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Andrew Jackson Borden,  Lizzie’s father.

Andrew is the more famous of the two, having been found dead, along with his wife Abby, in their Fall River, Massachusetts home on the morning of August 4, 1892. The only people who had been in the house that morning were the maid who was out washing windows and the Borden’s daughter Lizzie. Lizzie’s was charged with the murder and her trial drew the same kind of widespread attention that O.J. Simpson got in 1995 and the out come of “Not Guilty” was received with the same skepticism. Lizzie Borden has become a bit of a legend since that time with the assumption being that she was the one who viciously murdered her parents despite the fact that there was and is no concrete evidence to prove her guilt. borden_4She got off on the “reasonable doubt” claim and to this day that verdict would have to hold. As a gruesome piece of evidence, the coroner had decapitated both Abby and Andrew and their skulls were submitted as evidence at the trial.

I remember skipping to the rhyme “Lizzie Borden took an axe. Gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41” when I was a youngster. Her notoriety is of epic proportion.

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Photos of Dominicus Jordan’s musket – Maine Historical Society

My seventh great grandfather’s death is well documented too.  Dominicus Jordan was born in Spurwink, Cape Elizabeth, Maine in about 1655.  In 1675 his family had to leave the district because at the beginning of “King Phillip’s War” their family home was destroyed by the Indians. Dominicus became known during that time as the “Indian-killer” and he fiercely defended his family and property. He was known for carrying a six-foot long rifle slung over his back wherever he went.

That rifle, with some of the barrel later sawn off, is now in the Maine Historical Society Museum in Portland. Gradually peace returned and Dominicus and his wife, Hanna Tristram, returned to Spurwink. Dominicus’ reputation with his native adversaries, however, remained with him. On August 10, 1703, under the guise of wanting to buy some goods, a small band of Indians fell on Dominicus, one of them striking his head with a hatchet and killing him. With Domincus murdered, his wife and six children were all “led through the wilderness to Canada” and kept as prisoners in what is now Quebec. After several years all but one made their way back to Maine.

There are no skipping rhymes about Dominicus but lots of legend.  And I do actually carry some of his DNA. I know from DNA testing on Ancestry that my brother, my kids and I all share some segments of DNA with other Dominicus Jordan progeny.  I am wondering if my DNA will help me to live the role of the unfortunate Andrew Borden.

So…did Lizzie do it? Come out to Blood Relations to see what. you think. The show will be at the Domino Theatre and runs Wednesday to Saturday for two weeks – March 21-24 and 28-31. Tickets will be available online and at the door. I hope my friends will be supportive of this production. And my enemies?  Well they might be excited to see me get hacked.

AM and Gosia

Rehearsing for Blood Relations.

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KCFF18 – three more movies – two comedies and one that was unsettling.

Let’s get the unsettling movie out of the way first.

Black Cop has certainly been the talk of this Kingston Canadian Film Festival in 2018.  It played to two sold out screenings to audiences that found it somewhat unnerving.  We were warned when the creator/director, Cory Bowles (Trailer Park Boys) introduced the film, ending with  “Enjoy the film” then corrected it to “Enjoy the experience”.

Black-Cop-movie--623x350The movie, all shot in Halifax, is about a black policeman who is finding his work as a policeman to be challenging when people of color are in trouble with the law, or accused unfairly of being lawbreakers.  At one point when he is off duty, he is “carded” by another cop and treated badly, simply because he is a person of color.  He snaps and starts to turn the tables, stopping white people and being abusive and hostile in his interactions with them. This gave our predominantly white audience a feeling for what it would be like to have the shoe on the other foot, to be suspected and abused simply because of your skin color.  It was startling to experience and a provocative but very effective way of creating understanding of movements like Black Lives Matter.

Both Bowles and the film’s star, Ronnie Rowe, were at a Q&A after the screening.  It was clear that the audience was a bit stunned and needing some time to take it all in and the frank discussion about racial profiling and being a person of color in Canada was both welcome and complimented the film.   Everyone should see this film. Don’t watch it alone. You will need a chance to debrief afterward as there is a lot of overwhelming content to process.

MV5BZTNmOTliNjItMmE2MC00NjFiLTlhODgtZTQ4MTIyZjA5ODA0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU1MDYyMDE@._V1_UY1200_CR85,0,630,1200_AL_The two comedies were both fun but paled in comparison to Black Cop.

Room for Rent, shot in Winnipeg,  is about a young man, Mitch Baldwin (played by Mark Little), who won a lottery, blew all the money (and in the process a lot of relationships) and who is now living at home with his parents.   When his father (Mark McKinney) loses his job and they think they will have to sell the house the family decides to rent a room to make some money. Enter Carl Lemay (Brett Gellman), an assertive loose canon of a guy who complicates Iife for everyone, particularly Mitch.

 

Unknown-5Another Kind of Wedding was filmed in Montreal.  I loved the familiar locations including the bagel shop where Tara Foods gets their bagels.  Kingston was also mentioned by none other than Kathleen Turner.   Even though the line was a bit negative “Who would want to spend a week in Kingston?”, the audience loved to be acknowledged on film by this superstar.

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William Hurt and Kathleen Turner in Body Heat (1981) one of my favourite films.

 

Body Heat (1981) is one of my all-time favourite movies and I have always found Kathleen Turner to be “hot”.  She is now in her mid-sixties and has put on 50 pounds but she still exudes a sultry, classy, confidence that is oh so sexy.    And she is great in this movie as one of the mothers of the groom.

I think the title of this film is unfortunate and not appealing but it has already been changed from Someone Else’s Wedding so I guess the producers are struggling to find a wedding title that has not been taken.

I realized that it takes more to make me like a comedy than a drama.  They tend to be shallow and often work too hard to make us laugh. Wedding movie comedies usually follow a pattern – introduction, complications, affairs, family feuds, disruption, and then a sudden turn around where everyone comes out OK in the end.  This movie also follows that formula but the characters were all interesting and varied and I think that saved the film for me. I liked it better than Room for Rent and it was a light and pleasant way to spend my Sunday morning.

For each of the films that I mentioned today, I have naturally started with where they were filmed.  This is part of the fun of seeing Canadian movies where Canadian cities are presented as themselves, not as a substitute for some American town or New York.   It adds a sort of familiarity to the film that increases the appeal for a Canadian audience.  Canadian locations do look like home to Canadians.  Like our accent or “eh” or “sorry”, we do have a look to our cities and towns that a Canadian can indentify.  What fun to spend the weekend watching films that embrace that.  Thanks to the KCFF18 for providing this treat.