In the same eventful year which saw the close of the famous “Rebellion,” Kingston, having passed safely and quietly through another crisis in the country’s history, was incorporated under the style and commonalty of the town of Kingston. The first Mayor was the late Thomas Kirpatrick, Esq., long an esteemed citizen, elected on the 2nd of April, 1838. He, however, resigned the office before the conclusion of the year, having removed his residence outside of the town limits, and John S. Cartwright was elected for the remainder of the year, but declined to act. In the following spring Henry S. Cassady, Esq., was elected for the next year, but died in September, when Dr. James Sampson, already mentioned, was elected for the first time, receiving re-election twice afterwards, though not in consecutive years. Messrs. Thomas W. Robinson, Counter, Ford and Hill, and Dr. Robert McLean, were the other Mayors of the first decade after incorporation, on the whole the most eventful in its history.
The battle for Responsible Government had now been practically fought. Lord Durham’s memorable Report had been submitted to the British Parliament, and the Committee appointed to consider and report, desiring fuller information as to the readiness of the two Provinces to concur in the proposed Constitutional changes, selected the President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Charles Poulett Thompson, as the man best qualified for the mission, and the choice was amply justified. He came to Canada as Governor-General in 1838, and threw himself into his appointed work with such energy, enthusiasm and unwearied devotion, that he soon won his spurs, and, as Lord Sydenham, earned also the respect and gratitude of the country he had come to govern. It was mainly through his unremitting efforts that the Bill for the union of the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada was passed by the Imperial Parliament, and reluctantly assented to by the Conservatives of Upper Canada, who, hitherto, had strongly opposed such a measure. In Lower Canada the opposition had been still stronger, but as it possessed at the time no popular Legislature, the Union was carried through by a Council specially appointed for the time ; and the Act of Union came into force, by Royal proclamation, on the tenth of February, 1841, of course bringing to a close Sir George Arthur’s term of office as Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada.
This great change in colonial policy brought to Kingston the long coveted prize which, just half a century before, had slipped from her expectant grasp, through Lord Sydenham’s selection of the town as the Capital of the United Provincesthe contract of Union leaving the choice with him. Kingston was now, of course, a much more central point than York (Toronto), and though its population was as yet only between five and six thousand, less than half the number Toronto had already attained, it was an important naval and military depot, with the traditionary honour of its previous choice by Lord Dorchester, and had escaped the immediate influence of the factious antagonism which had so long disturbed Toronto.
The advancement of the little town to such an important position caused much elation among its citizens, as well as what we should now call a “boom” in real estate. Rents more than doubled in a few weeks, and high hopes of civic prosperity were excited, only to vanish too soon. In the absence of any Government buildings for Legislative purposes, temporary substitutes were found. The central portion of the present General Hospital, then just completed, became for the time the House of Parliament. A spacious new residence, shortly before built by Archdeacon Stuart, now remodelled into residences for the Principal and professors of Queen’s University, was turned to account as lodgings for the members, both of these buildings being commodious and pleasantly situated, commanding a fine view of the lake. Alwington House, at some distance from the town, on the shore of the lake, had been recently built by the then Baron de Longueil, long a respected citizen of Kingston, being more commonly known as “Baron Grant.” It now supplied what was for that period a not unworthy vice-regal residence, and with some temporary additions, became the scene of much official hospitality under three successive GovernorsLord Sydenham, Sir Charles Bagot, and Sir Charlesafterwards LordMetcalfe ; three of the best and ablest of the long succession of British pro-consuls who have, in turn, guided the destinies of Canada.
Parliament had been summoned to meet on the 14th of June, 1841, and on the morning of that day seventy-nine members had arrived, causing, we may be sure, no little excitement in the little town, which, we are told, had been “victualled as if to stand a siege.” As Lord Sydenham did not reach Kingston till the following day, Parliament was actually opened by Commission. But, on the 15th, at two o’clock in the afternoon, Lord Sydenham, with a numerous staff, civil and military, and amid much rejoicing on the part of the people, proceeded to the temporary Parliament House to deliver his opening speech to the first Parliament of United Canada. Most, if not all of those who had been present half a century before, at Governor Simcoe ‘s inauguration of the first Government of Upper Canada, had left this earthly scene, but the sons and successors of not a few of them were present. It was indeed a gala day in Kingston. and is still vividly remembered by a lady, one of Kingston’s oldest and most esteemed inhabitants, who was a happy spectator of the ceremonial.
A strenuous session followed, lasting but three months, during which one hundred and two bills were passedall measures required for the public weal, for which the Governor worked with unremitting diligence, too exhausting for his already overtaxed strength. He wrote to his brother in August :” I actually breathe, eat, drink and sleep on nothing but government and politics; and every day is a lost one when I do not find that I have advanced some of these objects materially.” And feeling that his allotted task was pretty well acomplished, he had already sent home his resignation. He also did much by his influence to remove the irritation and acrimony which had been produced by the long-continued political strife, although he did not concede to the Reformers the full measure of Responsible Government for which they had contendeda work which it was left for Lord Elgin to complete. But among the measures passed were some of the greatest consequence to the progress of Canada, as, for instance, the bill for the establishment and support of elementary schools, and that which, for the time at least, settled the vexed question of the Clergy Reservesan object which Lord Sydenham had much at heart.
The prorogation of Parliament had been fixed for the 15th of September. As the session advanced it was evident that the Governor’s vitality was seriously undermined, and an accident hurried his life and administration to a tragic close. On the 4th of September he was riding up the slight eminence that leads to Alwington, when his horse stumbled and fell under him, causing a severe wound above the knee. This injury proved too much for his already weakened constitution, and in spite of all that medical skill could do, he lived only fifteen days after it. His resignation, in consequence of his failing health, had already been accepted, and the well-merited honour of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath had been bestowed on him by the Queen, though received only on his death-bed. Until three or four days before his death he still cherished the hope of being able to return to England, and bore up until his prorogation speech had been dictated and corrected. The session was closed by the senior military officer at Kingston, General Clitheroe, acting as his deputy, and two days later, on the 19th of September, the first and last Lord Sydenham passed peacefully away.
He had desired to be interred beneath St. George’s Church, whither his remains were followed by a large concourse of real mourners from all parts of United Canada, for his death was generally felt as a great loss to the country. The Kingston Herald voiced the general sentiment when it said: “All is finished. Parliament is prorogued, and the Governor-General is no more! ‘Sic transit gloria mumdi ! Let us now be calm, and reflect on these occurrences as men and Christians. The first Parliament of United Canada has ended well, well beyond expectations, and much good has been achieved. The main positions of the new Government have been sustained, and some of the essential measures of reform effected. Conflicting opinions have not been carried out to any injurious extent in any way, and the members have all parted in good humour.”
Side by side with this local comment may be placed another contemporary tribute of esteem for the Governor who had literally worn out his life in the service of Canada. extracted from a published letter written by the late Egerton Ryerson, D.D., a Methodist clergyman and educationist, then stationed at Kingston:
” To lay the foundations of public liberty, and at the same time to strengthen the prerogative; to promote a comprehensive system of education upon Christian principles, without interfering with religious scruples; to promote the influence and security of the Government by teaching the people to govern themselves; to destroy party faction by promoting the general good; to invest a bankrupt country with both credit and resources, are conceptions and achievements which render Lord Sydenham the first benefactor of Canada, and place him in the first rank of statesmen. His Lordship found a country divided, he left it unitedhe found it mantled with despair, he left it blooming with hope. Lord Sydenham has done more in two years to strengthen and consolidate British power in Canada by his matchless industry and truly liberal conservative policy, than has been done during the ten previous years by the increase of a standing army and the erection of military fortifications. His Lordship has solved the difficult problem that a people may be colonists and yet be free; and in the solution of that problem he has gained a triumph less imposing, but not less important, than the victory of Waterloo; he has saved millions to England. and secured the affections of Canada.”
As his last resting-place was under St. George’s Church, which has thus been associated with two important events in the history of the Province, his name and distinguished services were fitly commemorated by a tablet placed by his family on the walls of the church, and remaining there till after that had been greatly enlarged and had become the Cathedral of the Diocese of Ontario. But, along with some other historical tablets, it shared in the destruction of the church by fire on New Year’s morning, 1899. After the cathedral had been rebuilt, a movement towards replacing Lord Sydenham’s monument was initiated by the local branch of the “Women’s National Council,” which, endorsed by that body as a whole, and by the principal Historical Societies of Ontario, petitioned the Ontario Government to supply the means for accomplishing this object, which the Government gracefully and generously did. The new tablet, a faithful and artistic replica of the first one, now adorns the interior of the restored edifice, where, it may be hoped. it will long remain intact to perpetuate the memory of a brief two years’ administration so full of strenuous service to the Canadian people.
The next vice-regal occupant of Alwington House was Sir Charles Bagot, a scion of an ancient Conservative family, and a nephew by marriage of the Duke of Wellington. Like his predecessor, he had a very brief tenure of office, and but one session of Parliament. of just five weeks’ duration. This was not, however, called together until he had been nine months in the country, as he desired to give himself time to learn to know the people of the two very diverse Provinces over which he was called to rule, before developing his future policy. His task was by no means an easy one. Besides strongly marked party lines within Canada itself, there were bitter animosities caused by the skirmishing warfare which had so long harassed the frontier, and by still existing causes of disagreement between the United States and Great Britain, more particularly connected with the African slave trade carried on under the American flag ; and with the long vexed boundary question. The latter was indeed settled by the famous Ashburton Treaty, during the regime of Sir Charles, though not by any means to the gcneral satisfaction.*
Feeling that his special work seemed to be that of cementing the lately accomplished union of the Provinces,reconciling differences and governing constitutionally, according to the principle which had been recognized by his predecessor, Sir Charles Bagot showed himself impartial and courteous to all. In his public appointments he endeavoured to be strictly fair to both French and British Canada, as well as to the Reform party in power, and to the still determined opposition, whom he offended by admitting to his Cabinet onc or two who had been “suspect” in the political agitation which had convulsed the country, acting throughout on the broad principle of the measure of Responsible Government which had been conceded to Canada, that a constitutional majority must necessarily hold the reins of power.
The brief session of Parliament which was cut short by changes in the Cabinet and the consequent necessity for the newly elected ministers to seek re-election, was not remarkable either for the number or the import of the measures passed. It was, however, unhappily memorable to the citizens of Kingston, for the long debate over the question of the final location
The growth of free trade principles in Britain also seemed. for the time at least, a very considerable setback to Canadian commercial prosperity, for among other losses, Canada ceased to enjoy the lucrative monopoly of supplying the West Indies with lumber and provisions.
Parliament had been adjourned in October for little more than a month, but the sudden prostration of Sir Charles Bagot, early in November, by serious illness, compelled an indefinite re-adjournment ; and once again, after the lapse of little more than a year, Kingstonians experienced the gloom attendant on the gradual sinking of the Governor-General under a fatal malady. He was advised to return at once to England, in order to avoid the trying winter ; but though he promptly applied for his recall, his successor could not assume the administration until the end of March. In May, Alwington House was again the scene of the mournful pomp of a vice-regal funeral, the earthly remains being, however, this time conveyed to England via the United States, to repose beside the ashes of his ancestors.
The fact that within the short space of two years and a half two Viceroys had died at Government House, Kingston, might well have deterred a weak or superstitious man from accepting what seemed so ill-fated a post. Sir Charles Metcalfeafterwards Lord Metcalfewho was appointed successor to Sir Charles Bagot, and whoafter official experience in Indiahad just returned from acting as Governor in Jamaica, was at first by no means inclined to accept the office, but did so at the urgent request of the Colonial Secretary, Lord Stanley, afterwards the Earl of Derby. He, however, carried with him the germ of a fatal disease, though at the time it had apparently been removed by a successful operation, which left him for a season in average health. An able, generous and high-minded man, he was strongly conservative in his views, and his Jamaica experiences did not tend to place him in sympathy with the principle of Responsible Government which had been granted to Canada. In compliance with his instructions from Lord Stanley, (who seems not to have approved of Sir Charles Bagot’s more constitutional course), he desired to replace the Conservative party in the ascendant, andregarding himself as the head of the Executive, responsible to the Home Government aloneto use the power of appointment in what he regarded as the interest of the Crown.
The consequence of the opposition of views between the Governor and his ministry, as well as in the House of Assembly itself, was a series of difficulties and complications, which soon brewed storms in the political atmosphere. The thirdand lastsession of Parliament held in Kingston, was full of excited and acrimonious debate, the city being filled with deeply interested spectators of what had virtually become a conflict between the Governor and his Ministers, who, with one exception, resigned office, and Parliament was prorogued in December, with only a provisional Cabinet consisting of three Executive Councillors. An overwhelming vote, in favour of a ministerial resolution to remove the seat of Government at once to Montreal, ended the tenure by Kingston of the distinction it had enjoyed for but three short years, and at least relieved the loyal old town from being the scene of the continued struggle, accompanied by rioting and even bloodshed, which harassed the remainder of Lord Metcalfe’s administration. In all probability it also hastened the fatal progress of his disease (facial cancer), which brought to an end his term of office in Canada, and, a few months later, his life. It was a strange coincidence that each of the first three Viceroys of United Canada, chiefly resident in Kingston, should hold office only for the brief space of about two years, and then sink under a fatal malady, undoubtedly aggravated by the cares and labours incidental to the position and the time.
It was only on the accession to office of Lord Elgin, after a brief term by Lord Cathcart, that the full exercise of responsible government, for which the Reformers of Canada had fought so long, was placed on a secure basis. Lord Elgin, also, came to Canada from the government of Jamaica, but his political views had been formed in a different school from those of Lord Metcalfe, and, despite the petty but annoying persecution to which he was subjected during the factious riots at Montreal, he persevered in establishing permanently the free institutions inaugurated by his father-in-law, Lord Durham, which, as we all know, Canada has ever since enjoyed, and which have had no small influence in making her the most loyal section of our world-wide empire.
Kingston’s brief dream of metropolitan pre-eminence had now vanishedor nearly sofor its citizens still continued to hope against hope for the ultimate return of the seat of Government, until, in 1858, the royal choice fixed it permanently at Ottawa. Its removal from Kingston was, it has been said, due in part to the supposed inability of the surrounding country to provide adequately for the needs of a growing Capital; but was doubtless even more to be referred to its exposed position on the American frontier, while Ottawa was almost on the dividing line between Upper and Lower Canada.
Whatever the causes, the event was a heavy blow to the commercial prosperity of the town, and made a great change in its future character and destinies. The sudden depression in business was as rapid as had been its inflation, and enterprising speculators found themselves left ruinously in the lurch when rents sank at once even below their old values. The handsome and costly City Hall and Market buildings, which had been begun under the impulse of the town’s elevation, burdened it with a heavy debt, though greatly enhancing its appearance, as seen from the water. However, the improvements made in the condition of the streets, drainage, etc., as well as a number of handsome and substantial residences built by private citizens, remained as permanent benefits to the place. The brothers Cartwright had previously built two of the fine old-fashioned mansions which still adorn King Street, and another had been built by the Hon. John Macaulay, which is still occupied by his descendants. Mr. J. S. Cartwright, however, afterwards built, on his property at Rockwood, the handsome residence now occupied by the Superintendent of the Hospital for the Insane ; and after the death of the Rev. Robert Cartwright, his widow and family took up their residence at Rockwood Cottage, where our veteran statesman. Sir Richard, spent his boyhood.
Their house on King Street eventually became the property of the late Sheriff Ferguson, who was Sheriff of the County of Frontenac for nearly half a century, and some of whose family still inhabit the old mansion.
In the centre of the cityon the gore formed by the divergence of Brock and Clarence Streetsstill stands, a fine, massive cut-stone house, now much dilapidated and almost unused, which was once the abode of Mr. John Forsyth, mentioned as an early merchant. The grounds, shaded by spreading horse-chestnut trees, and surrounded by a handsome iron railing, fronted on Wellington Street, and it seems a pity that a business block should have been allowed to fill up what might have been made a pretty square and a distinct adornment to the city. These old-fashioned “colonial” mansions, with the residence built by Mr. Henry Gildersleeve, and still occupied by one of his daughters, highly esteemed for her generous public spirit, are noteworthy relics of the substantial homes of Old Kingston’s “limestone” days.
Another handsome stone mansion, a little out of town, was built about this time by Mr. D. J. Smith, a Kingston lawyer, who was the first Treasurer of the Midland District Agricultural Society, formed in 1830, immediately on the formation of such Societies being initiated by Act of Parliamentthe lion. John Macaulay being President. Mr. Smith’s residence has long borne the name of Rose Lawn, and, after the death of its first owner, became the abode of his namesake, the late Sir Henry Smith, who was for many years member for the County, and who, as Speaker of the House, was sent to England in 1859 to invite the Prince of Wales to visit Canada, being knighted on that occasion by Queen Victoria. His eldest son has long been a well-known figure in the House of Commons, as its genial and courteous Sergeant-at-Arms.
An ancient landmark on King Street, still surviving, is the clap-boarded cottage, once the home of the Venerable Archdeacon Stuart, son of the original rector, whose various names have been bestowed piecemeal on several streets near his later residence and grounds, once called Summer Hill, and now the campus of Queen ‘s University. In that vicinity, beyond the General Hospital on the lake front, is another old cottage, built by the Rev. William Herchmer, already mentioned, and for some time used as a See-house, after the creation of the Diocese of Ontario. Near this house is the spot where, under an old tree, still partially existing, the poet Moore is said to have written one of his melodious poems, beginning :-
“I knew, by the smoke that so gracefully curled,” etc.
The cottage near Murney Tower, in which on his brief visit he sojourned for a day or two, is no longer standing, but a new one occupies the site, and belongs to a well-known citizen, Mr. Henry Cunningham.
On King Street, near the old home of Archdeacon Stuart, stands another large, old-fashioned “roughcast” cottage, in which for many years resided the then leading physician of the town, Dr. Sampson, remarkable for professional sagacity, curt expression, and for not a few bon mots, still among the traditions of Kingston. On one occasion he remarked to a mounted acquaintance whom he was accompanying on foot, that he was proceeding “hand passibus equis.” On another, while walking with a friend past Rockwood, and observing Mr. J. S. Cartwright’s handsome new house and stables, he perpetrated the following impromptu:
“Oh, much I wish that I were able
To build a house like Cartwright’s stable,
For it doth cause me great remorse
To be worse lodged than Cartwright’s horse !”
This worthy old doctor, keen-witted, terse and laconic, as so many worthy old doctors are, was, as has been said, thrice Mayor of Kingston, and died at a good old age, much regretted by his patients and fellow citizens. Drs. Baker, Stewart and Dickson were other leading lights of the medical profession about the same time.
But the personnel of the legal profession at this period deserves special mention, as it included three names distinguished in Canadian political history, one of which was destined to be, during the next half-century, the foremost name of Canada, known as such throughout the British Empire. In the year before the outbreak of ’37, young John A. Macdonald, who though not a native of Kingston, had been educated at its Grammar School, and had studied in the office of George Mackenzie, was, at twenty-one, called to the bar. It happened curiously enough to one conspicuous throughout his life for his devotion to the Empire, that his first step to distinction was made by his able but unsuccessful defence of the unfortunate insurgent leader, Von Schultz. As Kingston became, five years later, the centre of the political excitement of the time, it is not surprising that he naturally gravitated towards politics, and in 1844 was returned as member for Kingston, a position which he retained through nearly his whole career. His first election address contained the following pledge, striking the key-note of his political life: “The prosperity of Canada depends upon its permanent connection with the Mother Country, and I will resist to the utmost any attempt (from whatever quarter it may come) which may tend to weaken that union”words which find an echo in his last rallying cry in 1891: “A British subject I was born, and a British subject I will die!” In both he but gave expression to the strong traditional spirit of loyalty to the British Empire which had laid the foundation-stone of his native Province and charged the political atmosphere of his constituency. His long career as a Canadian statesman, as one of the “Fathers of Confederation,” as the first Premier of the Dominion, and one of the foremost builders of Greater Canada, belongs to Canadian history, and is too well known to need recapitulation here.
Shortly after the young lawyer had opened his humble office, two other young Kingstonians presented themselves in it as law students, both also destined to fill distinguished careers. One of these was the future Sir Oliver Mowat, who began his law practice in Toronto, became Vice-Chancellor of Ontario, was later an unsuccessful opponent of Sir John Macdonald at the Kingston polls in 1861, afterwards Premier of Ontario for the unparalleled period of twenty-five years, then Minister of Justice for the Dominion, and finally Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, dying in that Dice in his tranquil old age ;a man no less remarkable for his blameless Christian character than for his long political pre-eminence. The other law student was later known as Sir Alexander Campbell, the son of the devoted Dr. Campbell, who died worn out with his professional work during the cholera visitation of 1832. He also was long a prominent figure in political life, and, like the “good Sir Oliver,” died as one of his predecessors in the Governorship of Ontario. All three were of Scottish parentageof families early connected with St. Andrew ‘s Church.
By a curious conjunction of circumstances, another young Scotchman, who became Sir John Macdonald’s most distinguished and strenuous political opponent, the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, was also closely associated with Kingston during its tenure of the seat of Government. Having just arrived in the country from Scotland, he sought work as a stonemason in Kingston, but meeting with the unfortunate experience of being swindled out of his summer’s pay, he tried farming on land at some distance from the city, belonging to Mr. John Mowat, the worthy father of Sir Oliver. Returning to Kingston in 1843, he obtained work on Fort Henry, then being completed, and has left, as a memento of his good workmanship, the bomb-proof arch still pointed out as such to the visiting tourist. During the season of depression in Kingston resulting from the removal of the Government, he found work in connection with the system of canals then in process of construction, and spent a winter at Wolfe Island, opposite Kingston, getting out stone for the Welland Canal, during which he narrowly escaped drowning in crossing the ice to visit his fiancee, to whom he was married in Kingston in 1845. During the following year he took part in building the Martello towers which surround the city ; and that on Cedar Island, in particular, was built by the vigorous hands which afterwards guided for a time the political destiny of the Dominion in such a manner as to merit the testimony of Lord Dufferin that “neither in England nor in Canada has any public servant of the Crown administered the affairs of the nation with stricter integrity, a purer patriotism, a more indefatigable industry, or nobler aspiration.” On the whole, Kingston is justified of her sometime citizens.
As has been already said, the main portion of the present Fort Henry had been built between 1832 and 1833, of stone quarried from the roadside between Kingston and Gananoque, and it was now completed by the addition of the advanced batteries. The cordon of Martello towers was now added to the system of defence, that at Murney Point superseding the old blockhouse or loop-holed guardhouse. The shoal-tower, in front of the town, was built up from the solid rock beneath the water, by means of cribwork and a dam constructed on the ice during the winter and then sunk, from which the water had to be pumped by an anchored steamer. It was completed in 1847, at a cost of £8,725 sterling. The tower on Point Frederick also replaced an old blockhouse burnt in 1820, which had been surrounded by a breastwork of logs and earth. Cedar Island, just below the fort, the site of another tower, and Snake Island, lying some miles out on the lake, were made telegraph stations. The fine Market Battery, in front of the city buildings, was built in 1848 at a cost of £11,173 sterling. It added greatly to the appearance of the city front, but was unfortunately demolished to make room for the present K. and P. Railway station ; another instance of the vast sums of money sunk by the British Government in the defences and harbour of Old Kingston !
The institution of Queen’s University about this time must be left for another chapter ; but passing for a moment to matters ecclesiastical, it may be remarked that Kingston became, in 1844, the scene of an event profoundly affecting the religious interests of the countrythe unhappy, and, as it seems, very unnecessary “Disruption” in the Presbyterian Church, dividing that large and growing body into two sectionsthat which remained attached to the Mother Church of Scotland, and that which chose to be identified with the Free Church of Scotland, which had recently seceded. Leaders of the latter came to Canada to promote an agitation in connection with which feeling ran high in Kingston as in other places, and the formal separation between brethren of one faith and one creed actually took place within St. Andrew’s Church during a meeting of Synod, deeply regretted by many who felt that the dissensions of the old land should not have found an echo in a new country, totally unaffected by their causes. The passing years brought wiser counsels, and although Kingston was not the scene of the ultimate reunion of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, it has repeatedly been the meeting-place of its reunited Assembly.
In 1846, the year after the removal of the seat of Government, Kingston was incorporated as a city, John Counter, Esq., being the first Mayor under the new style. About the same time the city received the questionable privilege of becoming the site of the Provincial Penitentiary, and the present massive pile of buildings was begun. The pretty little village of Portsmouth, bright with flower gardens, began to grow up around the walls, and, from its convenient position, helped to maintain Kingston’s shipbuilding reputation, possessing for many years shipyards of considerable importance.
Other handsome public buildings besides the fine City Hall soon greatly enhanced the appearance of the place. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary’s, Kingston’s predominating edifice when viewed from a distance (not counting the new elevators at the wharves), was also begun at this period of ambitious building, and, having been partially renewed in recent years, is a fine specimen of Gothic architecture, as well as the largest ecclesiastical edifice in the city. The handsome buildings of the old Commercial Bank and the Bank of Montreal, now diverted to other uses, were also notable additions to its civic architecture, and several destructive fires helped to remove blemishes and improve the aspect of the town.
Foundries and other industrial works also began to spring up within its bounds, and as Kingston was the terminus of the Rideau Canal, bringing freight from the eastward, and also of the navigation from the head of the lake, a flourishing business was carried on in the transhipment and forwarding of grain and other produce. The Welland Canal now connected Lake Erie with Lake Ontario. and in 1847 the canals of the St. Lawrence, at that time at least the most stupendous works of the kind in the world, were ready for use, overcoming the formidable obstructions the rapids had presented to St. Lawrence navigation ; freight having hitherto been sent down on the bateaux frequently referred to. which were usually broken up for timber at Montreal. as they were not worth the expense of bringing them back. Now, however, steam-boats and other craft could run up and down to Montreal without hindrance, and the forwarding trade of Kingston profited thereby. In the summer of 1844 we find, from advertisements in the Chronicle and Gazette, that Kingston already possessed ample steamboat communication with Montreal, as Messrs. Macpherson and Crane advertise “for Montreal direct” the “new steamer Caledonia,” while a line of three other steamers, the Highlander, Gildersleeve, and Canada, are advertised to “leave the Commercial wharf at Kingston for Coteau-du-Lac,” from whence the passengers were conveyed in stages to the shore of Lake St. Louis, and thence per steamer Chieftain to Montreal. The Caledonia may have also had some such arrangement, as well as the steamer Pilot, also advertised “for Montreal direct,” and the Pioneer, Gleaner, and William Henry, also freight and passage boats for Montreal. Two steamboats, the Prince of Wales and the Prince Edward, are also advertised for the Bay of Quinte route, another source of forwarding profit. In a few years, however, the building of the Grand Trunk Railway put a serious check on the growing prosperity of the place, diverting much of the traffic into its own channel, especially as its main line ran at a distance of two miles from the business quarter of the city. In convenience of transit, however, and other obvious ways, it has greatly benefited the citizens generally, especially since the “suburban branch line” was carried, about 1860. into the city station.
The Story Of Old Kingston:A Growing TimeA Political CrisisKingston As The Capital Of CanadaAn Educational CentreChurches And CharitiesSixty Years AgoDecree Of Louis Xiv. Granting To La Salle The Seigniory Of CataraquiRead More Articles About: The Story Of Old Kingston