Kingston at Mid-Centry: An Overview

1850 - present day
Kingston City Hall and the Market Battery, 1857. Source: Queen's University Archives, William Sawyer fonds.Pinterest
Kingston City Hall and the Market Battery, 1857. Source: Queen's University Archives, William Sawyer fonds.

By 1850, the future of Kingston was being determined by several factors. Its metropolitan aspirations, national leadership role, economic structure and cultural profile were all experiencing major influences. While one of the earliest settlement core was established in 1783 with arrival of the Loyalists, Kingston was unable to compete with its competitors, particularly York (Toronto). The initial concern with defending the new colony from attack by the U.S. promoted a strong imperial military presence. That same threat weakened the rational for Kington’s recognition as capital of the United Canadas. Nothing could alter Kingston’s geographical role as a transhipment point at the junction of the Great Lakes to the west and the St. Lawrence to the east until this was challenged by navigational and other transport developments that bypassed it. Nor did Kingston possess a rich agricultural hinterland as its back-country was dominated by the Canadian Shield.  Yet this was the era when many of the city’s institutional foundations were established.

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