History is really what makes Kingston an interesting place. On the surface Kingston is a fine looking city with some of the touristy areas well taken care of. However, armed with even a modest amount of knowledge in Canadian history and architecture, the experience is several fold more interesting and enriching.I've always thought that the core of Kingston is one of the most beautiful urban areas in Ontario, at least in terms of heritage architecture, waterfront and beautiful parks.
During the 19th century the city actually had a moderate amount of importance in the Upper/Lower Canada region. It was once the political center (even if for a short time), established a well respected university, and served as a financial center for the surrounding counties. When you walk around the city, you can see the wealth that was once present in the city in the beautiful homes and an urban environment that once would have been very vibrant.
It is often hard to see this since time has taken its toll on the city. But most of the limestone buildings still stand and save a few areas that fell to urban renewal, much of the underlying character is there. What is most interesting, in my own opinion, are some of the areas that tourists will never see. There are a number of streets where on first glance it looks to be little more than crumby homes covered in vinyl or aluminum siding. But when you look closer, most of these houses, freestanding and row, are probably 100 years old and underneath the crumby cladding are brick or limestone. I would not be surprised if many of them where the original windows are not still in the frame had them hiding somewhere in the backyard or a rotting shed.
It is nice to see that the leadership in Kingston is adopting a more progressive attitude towards the city and how it develops. It would be tragic if the city simply fell to 'quick and easy' forces of modern development and failed to build on the history and strengths it has.