Charles Dickens Visits Kingston

May, 1842
Charles Dickens Visits KingstonPinterest
Charles Dickens. Jeremiah Gurney, Heritage Auction Gallery.

In May of 1842, following an extensive trip to the United States, Charles Dickens made a short trip through parts of Canada beginning in Niagara Falls, passing through Cobourg and Kingston and then departing from Montreal to return to England. Dickens' description of Kingston, as documented in American Notes, and not long after the Great Fire of 1840, is, perhaps, not the most favourable:

"[Kingston], now the seat of government in Canada, is a very poor town, rendered still poorer in the appearance of its market-place by the ravages of a recent fire. Indeed, it may be said of Kingston, that one half of it appears to be burnt down, and the other half not to be built up. The Government House is neither elegant nor commodious, yet it is almost the only house of any importance in the neighbourhood." It is worth noting that Dickens' visit predates the building of City Hall.