Goodbye, Kingston

This summer, on the night before the Wolfe Island Music Festival, I sat in the General Wolfe Hotel bar and watched a dozen hairy, sweaty, shirtless islanders dance their hearts out as the island’s most popular cover band played hard rock standards all night.

It was probably one of the most fun times I’ve had in Kingston.

As I approach the last couple of months before I’m supposed to graduate—and I prepare to leave not only Kingston, but also the country for a while, not knowing if or when I might be back—I’ve been thinking a lot about the time I’ve spent in this city and what it has meant to me.

I’m not really moved by the thought of leaving Queen’s, but when I consider that I may never live in Kingston again, I admit that it puts a bit of a lump in my throat.

Coming from North York, a neutered suburb of Toronto where sidewalks are largely unused and people still somewhat revere Mel Lastman, I immediately took to the strong sense of community that exists in Kingston, particularly among the small but fiercely supportive group of artists.

But it wasn’t until I spent a summer here that I really began to connect to the city in a more meaningful way.

Of course, Kingston isn’t without its flaws. There’s still an embarrassing obsession with the past, enough Not-In-My-Backyard-ism to make anyone under the age of 75 want to put their head through a wall, and a mayor who is clearly more comfortable discussing economic development than he is talking about people (anyone who was at this summer’s Pride parade can attest to this).

Like a former high school quarterback who hopelessly and pathetically longs for the glory days of his youth (remember Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite?) while serving up Big Gulps at the local 7-11, Kingston spends an inordinate amount of time, energy and money celebrating how wonderful everything was in the 1840s (see First Capital Day, celebrated in Kingston every June 15 to mark the time from 1841 to 1844 when Kingston was the first capital city of a United Canada. First Capital Day events are scheduled for an entire two weeks and songs are sung by elementary school children that include the pitiful lyrics, “We’re not the capital anymore, but we were!”).

Sure, Kingston is home to some of the most important and influential moments in the founding of our country, and the city’s history is one of its most charming and interesting facets; but the obsession sometimes clouds the great things that are happening in the city today, such as the vibrant film culture, multiple community-based music festivals (Skeleton Park’s music festival is continuing this year and Wolfe Island’s is now probably one of the top three or four music fests in the country), leading wind-energy technology, strong environmental activism, community gardens and organic food movements.

I’m not interested in telling you to burst the Queen’s bubble or do your part to improve town-gown relations and become an engaged citizen, blah, blah, blah. You can make your university experience whatever you want.

All I know is that I’ve had a great time here largely because I’ve connected with people beyond the borders of campus, and when I leave, I’m going to miss a lot of those people. So, in this, the final signed editorial of my career, I think I’d just like to say thanks to Kingston for having me.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.