Living in Kingston


Kingston’s economy relies heavily on public sector institutions and establishments. The most important sectors are related to health care, education (Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada), government (including the military and correctional services), tourism and culture. Manufacturing, and research and development play a smaller role than in the past. One of Kingston’s major industrial employers of the 20th century, the Canadian Locomotive Company, closed in 1969, and the former Alcan and DuPont operations employ far fewer people than in the past.

According to the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, the 24 largest employers in Kingston as of May 2009 were:


Highway 401, which runs north of the city, is the principal access route into Kingston. The first sections of the highway in the Kingston area were opened in 1958, although it was not fully completed for another ten years. From the south, Interstate 81 connects with Highway 401 east of Kingston. Seasonal ferry service from Cape Vincent, New York, via Wolfe Island, into downtown Kingston is an alternate route to and from the United States.

VIA Rail corridor service connects Kingston along the main line between Windsor, Ontario and Quebec City. By air, Kingston is served by Norman Rogers Airport with Air Canada Jazz providing regular service to Toronto only. Coach Canada provides service from the Kingston Bus Terminal to TorontoOttawa and Montreal.

Kingston Transit provides local municipal bus service.


Kingston has developed a thriving artistic and entertainment life. The city hosts several festivals during the year, including the Limestone City Blues Festival, the Kingston Canadian Film Festival, Fanfayr, the Kingston Buskers’ Rendezvous, Kingston Jazz Festival, Reelout Film Festival, Feb Fest and the Wolfe Island Music Festival.

Kingston is home to many artists who work in visual arts, media arts, literature, and a growing number who work in other time-based disciplines such as performance art. The contemporary arts scene in particular has two long standing professional non-profit venues in the downtown area, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (founded 1957), and Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre (founded 1977). Local artists often participate in the exhibition programming of each organization, while each also presents the work of artists from across Canada and around the world – in keeping with their educational mandates. Alternative venues for the presentation of exhibition programs in Kingston include The Union Gallery (Queen’s University’s student art gallery), Verb Gallery, Open Studio 22, the Kingston Arts Council gallery, and The Artel: Arts Accommodations and Venue.

The Kingston WritersFest occurs annually. Literary events also happen throughout the year at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library and local bookstores. Writers who are or have been residents of Kingston include Steven Heighton, Bronwen Wallace, Helen Humphreys, Michael Ondaatje, Joanne Page, Diane Schoemperlen, Eric Folsom, Michael Crummey, Melanie Dugan, Mark Sinnett, Mary Alice Downie, Robertson Davies, Douglas Fetherling, Wayne Grady, Merilyn Simonds, Ellen Stafford, Alec Ross, Jamie Swift, Carolyn Smart and Alexander Scala.

Music and theatre venues include The Grand Theatre, and The Wellington Street Theatre, which host performances from international, national, and local groups like Domino Theatre, Theatre Kingston, The Vagabond Repertory Theatre Company, Hope Theatre Projects, Bottle Tree Productions, and other small groups that dot the downtown area. The Kingston Symphony performs at The Grand Theatre, as do several amateur and semi-professional theatre groups. The K-Rock Centre, a 5800-seat entertainment venue and ice rink, opened in February 2008.

The city has spawned several musicians and musical groups, most of whom are known mainly within Canada, but a few of whom have achieved international success. These include John Kay, lead singer, harmonica player, and occasional guitarist of the heavy metal late 60s/early 70s band Steppenwolf, members of The Tragically HipThe Mahones, jazz singer Andy PooleBedouin SoundclashSarah HarmerThe Arrogant WormsThe HeadstonesThe Inbreds, and David Usher, formerly of Moist.

Kingston is also the birth place of Bryan Adams. The first winner of the television series Canadian Idol was Kingston native Ryan Malcolm.

Poet Michael Andre was raised in Kingston. Zal Yanovsky of The Lovin’ Spoonful lived in Kingston until his death in 2002.


Kingston is the site of two universities, Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada, and a community collegeSt. Lawrence College. According to Statistics Canada, Kingston has the most PhD-holders per capita of any city in Canada.[7]

Queen’s University

Queen’s University is one of Canada’s oldest universities and offers a variety of degree programs. The university was founded in 1841 under royal charter from Queen Victoria. It currently has an enrollment of more than 13,000 undergraduate and 4,000 graduate students.

Royal Military College of Canada

The Royal Military College of Canada, established in 1876, is Canada’s only military university (Collège Militaire Royal in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec is a military CEGEP), providing academic and leadership training to officer cadets, other members of Canada’s armed forcesand civilians. There are currently 1,100 undergraduate students and 500 full and part-time graduate students.[8]

St. Lawrence College

St. Lawrence College offers baccalaureate degree programs at its Kingston campus, in behavioural psychology, industrial trades, microelectronics, nursing and business administration (the latter via a partnership with Laurentian University[9]), in addition to certificate, diploma, and advanced diploma programs.

Primary and secondary education

The Limestone District School Board serves students in the counties of Frontenac and Lennox and Addington. Along with the Limestone School of Community Education, which provides adult education and training programs, approximately 23,000 students attend 56 elementary and 12 secondary schools. The Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board serves students of the Roman Catholic faith. Approximately 15,000 students attend 36 elementary schools and 5 secondary schools in this district. The catholic high schools in the immediate Kingston area include Holy Cross and Regiopolis Notre-Dame Catholic High Schools. The francophone community is served by two school boards, the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’est de l’Ontario and the Conseil des écoles catholiques de langue française du centre-est, each providing one secondary school in the area.

Local secondary schools:



Although contested, Kingston lays claim to being the birthplace of ice hockey. This is supported by a journal entry of a British Army officer in Kingston in 1843. He wrote “Began to skate this year, improved quickly and had great fun at hockey on the ice.”[12]. Kingston is also home to the oldest continuing hockey rivalry in the world by virtue of a game played in 1886 between Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada. To mark this event, the city hosts an annual game between the two institutions, played on a cleared patch of frozen lake with both teams wearing period-correct uniforms.

Kingston is represented in the OHL by the Kingston Frontenacs, and in OPJHL by the Kingston Voyageurs. The Frontenacs are coached by Kingston native Doug Gilmour.

The International Hockey Hall of Fame, established in 1943 with a building constructed in 1965, is located in Kingston, near the Kingston Memorial Centre. New to the city is the K-Rock Centre, located in the downtown core. The arena opened in February 2008.

Several NHL players, coaches and personalities have been associated with Kingston including:


The city is famous for its fresh-water sailing, and hosted the sailing events for the 1976 Summer Olympics. CORK — Canadian Olympic-training Regatta, Kingston — now hosted by CORK/Sail Kingston Inc. is still held every August. Since 1972, Kingston has hosted more than 40[13] World and Olympic sailing championships. Kingston is listed by a panel of experts among the best yacht racing venues in the USA,[14]even though Kingston is, of course, in Canada.

Kingston sits amid excellent cruising and boating territory, with easy access to Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the Thousand Islands including the St. Lawrence Islands National Park.

Kingston is also home to the youth sail training ship called the St-Lawrence 2.

During the summers, the RMC campus in Kingston plays host to a Sea Cadet camp called HMCS Ontario, which provides sail training along with lots of other training to youth from across Canada. The Kingston Yacht Club located in downtown Kingston has a learn to sail program for both children and adults.


Kingston is a well-known destination for fresh-water wreck diving. Some of Kingston’s wrecks can be classed among the best fresh water wrecks in the world. Kingston’s wrecks are well preserved by its cool fresh water, and the recent zebra mussel invasion has caused a drastic improvement in water clarity that has enhanced the quality of diving in the area.

See also the List of Shipwrecks of Kingston Ontario.


The Kingston area is well known for its fine golf courses and for the many strong players it has produced. The Kingston Golf Club, established in 1884, was a founding member of the Royal Canadian Golf Association in 1895. The first winner of the Amateur Canadian Golf Championship that same year was Kingstonian Thomas Harley, a Scottish emigre carpenter. Dick Green was the longtime club professional for nearly 40 years at Cataraqui Golf and Country Club, which has one of Canada’s top courses (designed by Stanley Thompson). Green, a superb player and teacher, also designed several courses in Eastern Ontario, including Smiths Falls, Glen Lawrence, Amherstview, Garrison, Rivendell, and Colonnade. Matt McQuillan, now a professional player on the Canadian Tour, was born and raised in Kingston, and developed his game at the Garrison Golf and Curling Club. McQuillan won the 2005 Telus Edmonton Open.


The Royal Kingston Curling Club is one of Canada’s oldest. It was founded in 1820, and was granted Royal patronage in 1993. In 2006, the RKCC moved to a new facility, to make way for the construction of a new complex at Queen’s University, the Queen’s Centre.


The Kingston Panthers R.F.C, recently celebrated their fortieth anniversary with an EORU championship in the Division 1 championship game at Twin Elms Rugby Pitch in Ottawa, Ontario.


According to the 2006 census, there were 152,358 people residing in the Kingston Census Metropolitan Area,[15] of whom 48.7% were male and 51.3% were female. Children under five accounted for approximately 4.8% of the resident population of Kingston. This compares with 5.5% in Ontario.

In 2001, 14.1% of the resident population in Kingston were of retirement age (65 and over) compared with 13.2% in Canada. As a result, the average age is 38.1 years of age as compared to 37.6 years of age for all of Canada. Kingston has a reputation as a suitable place for retirees to settle.

In the five years between 1996 and 2001, the population of Kingston grew by 1.6%, compared with an increase of 6.1% for Ontario as a whole. Population density of Kingston averaged 77.0 people per square kilometre, compared with an average of 12.6 people per square kilometre for Ontario altogether.

The population of Kingston shows significant turnover because of its relatively large student population (about 10%) and the number of military residents associated with Canadian Forces Base Kingston.

According to the Government of Canada 2006 census, 94.2% of the population were Caucasian; of the visible minorities, 1.7% were Chinese, 1.2% were South Asian, and 0.8% were black.

Detailed socio-demographic analysis and information about Kingston can be found in the Kingston Community Profile, 2009: A Socio-Demographic Analysis of Kingston, Ontario Canada [16] published by the Social Planning Council of Kingston and Area (SPCKA).


Christianity represents the largest major religion of Kingston, with 114,145 of all residents (79.9%) claiming affiliation. Protestant faiths represent the largest denomination with 58% of the Christian population, while Catholics comprise the second largest denomination, representing 38% of Kingston’s Christian community.

Second to Christianity, 25,480 residents (17.8%) claim no religious affiliation.

Other religious affiliations include Judaism (855 individuals, or .59%), Islam (850 individuals, or .59%), and Buddhism (475 individuals, or .33%).[17]

Quality of Life

Kingston was recognized as one of the “best places to live and work in Canada for young professionals.” The city ranked # 4 on a list of 27 Canadian cities with a population of 100,000 or more in a study of the likes and dislikes of professionals between the ages of 20-40. The study, by Next Generation Consulting, considered factors such as: earning potential (things like employment opportunities and household incomes), cost of lifestyle (the cost of food, clothing and housing), vitality (air and water quality and green space) and after hours activities (things to do during week nights and on the weekend).

This page is referencing the Wikipedia article “Kingston, Ontario”.