Up close & personal with Kingston’s star-studded history

June 1784: A band of Loyalists arrived at the site of Fort Frontenac fleeing from the United States and called their new home “King’s Town.”
June 1784: A band of Loyalists arrived at the site of Fort Frontenac fleeing from the United States and called their new home “King’s Town.”

July 13, 1673

Count Frontenac, governor of New France, met with local Iroquois chiefs as members of his flotilla began to construct a small fort on Cataraqui River. Frontenac’s arrival marks the first attempt at colonization by Europeans in what is now Ontario.

June 1784

A band of Loyalists arrived at the site of Fort Frontenac fleeing from the United States and called their new home “King’s Town.”


The first school in Kingston was constructed on Lower Union Street, where Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute is now located.


A wooden bridge was constructed across the Cataraqui River, connecting downtown Kingston with the naval dock at Point Frederick, which is now RMC.


Sir John A. Macdonald arrived in Kingston at the age of five.


Cholera plague killed 10 per cent of the Kingston population. The bodies were dropped into a stream running into the lake outside Kingston General Hospital and became the largest mass grave in Kingston.

March 27, 1838

Kingston was incorporated as a town.

1841 - 1844

Kingston was the short-lived capital of United Canada.


Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter to establish a university in Kingston. Principal Reverend Thomas Liddell of Edinburgh arrived in Kingston. He quickly realized he had no buildings in which to teach and, a greater problem still, no students to teach. By March 1842 he was able to rent a building and gather together some students and conduct classes in science, literature and religion at Queen’s College. For 11 years, classes continued to take place in rented buildings.

June 5, 1843

Governor-General Sir Charles Metcalfe laid the cornerstone of City Hall. The day was declared a public holiday.


Kingston was incorporated as a city.


Kingston’s first fire hall was built on Ontario Street. It closed in 1962 and soon re-opened as a restaurant, now called Lonestar.

June 1, 1876

A military college opened at Point Frederickton. Two years later, it was officially named Royal Military College.


Students from Queen’s University and RMC compete in what is possibly their first official hockey game. The game took place in front of City Hall and, since 1969, has been re-enacted by Queen’s and RMC students every winter.

February 5, 1934

Don Cherry was born in Kingston.

August 1, 1938

William Lyon Mackenzie King opened Fort Henry, constructed during the War of 1812, as a tourist attraction.


The Commercial Mart Building, formerly home to offices for the Department of Veterans Affairs and Public Works, was sold to S&R Department Store, which still owns the property on the corner of Princess and Ontario Streets.

July 1, 1962

The city began running Kingston Transit, offering public transportation throughout the city and nearby townships.


St. Lawrence College opened with 250 full-time day students and 100 evening students in 19 training programs.


Kingston hosted the Summer Olympics sailing events.


The Cataraqui Town Centre opened as Kingston’s first enclosed shopping centre.


Gord Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Gord Sinclair and Paul Langlois united to form the
Tragically Hip.

April 1986

The Kingston Brewing Company opened, becoming the first brew pub in Ontario. In 1990, the restaurant received a licence to produce and dispense its own wine on site, in addition to their beers and ciders.

January 1, 1998

The City of Kingston was amalgamated with the Kingston and Pittsburgh Townships.


Kingston resident Dan Akroyd received the Order of Canada for his services to entertainment and scientific research.

—Compiled by Lisa Jemison; illustrations by Evelien Heyselaar

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