If you go anywhere in eastern Ontario, make sure you visit Fort Henry, Kingston, ON. This historic fort originally dates from 1812, however, the current fort was constructed from 1832 to 1837, and today stands proud directly on Lake Ontario, near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, and the Royal Military College. From the waters of Lake Ontario, it can't be missed, and by land, it's equally impressive. In two words: It's huge. I've been there many times, and have always enjoyed each visit.
The Fort has a varied and immensely interesting history throughout its long life. Today it is lovingly cared for, with a brand new visitor/interpretive centre, a new entrance, and in general, is all spruced up to receive its visitors. I last was there in June of 2013, and as always, the guardsmen and women were all in their spiffiest and most beautiful uniforms. The premises itself was spotless. Also new to the Fort was the wonderful outdoor cafe, the Battery Bistro, with full wait staff. The menu was basically modern pub grub, but all well done and very well presented. The staff themselves were conscientious and professional, but most pleasant. Oh, and the view was incredible.
As for the contents of the Fort, if you want a really serious history lesson, this is the place to come. There are guided tours of the fort, and you get to go into some really neat places, with underground passageways, hidden bunkers, views of the officer's quarters, and up top, an array of cannons-that are occasionally fired, too. With its star-shaped pattern, it is said there was no quarter that couldn't be defended, from land or water. Some other highlights are the Sunset Ceremony fireworks at the fort, usually every Wednesday and Saturday evening, and the Kingston 1000 Islands Cruise boats make a point of stopping and turning the boat to see these from the lake. There are military tattoos and re-enactments throughout the summer as well. They have all kinds of activities for kids, complete with costumes (see photo). There are a couple of souvenir shops offering goodies for all ages, and no visit would be complete without seeing David the X, the Fort's Saanen goat mascot. He comes from a long line of very loyal, pure white goats.
Various culinary events, like the Grape Escape and the Beer and Food Truck Festival have been added recently. During the Fall, many other special events are on the menu, including Fort Fright, as the place seems to have its own ghosts, and is featured on the Kingston Haunted Walk. Ft. Henry also partners with Upper Canada Village, over a ticket package on both venues (more about Upper Canada Village in a future blog).
If you're planning on touring eastern Ontario, make a stop in Kingston. Spend a day at the old fort, and you won't be sorry. I would call or keep an eye on the website for this year's schedule and events.
Address and Contact Info:
1 Fort Henry Dr, Kingston, ON K7K 5G8
Other important links:
http://www.hauntedwalk.com/ Haunted Walk of Kingston website.
www.ktic.ca Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises website. Highly recommended.