Kingston is a medium-sized city located at the entrance to the St. Lawrence River and Thousand Islands region of southeastern Ontario. The city is a short ferry boat ride from Wolfe Island, a mostly rural community directly across from Kingston and the largest of the Thousand Islands. Wolfe Island is linked to northern New York state (United States) by another ferry.
Founded in 1673 by the French explorer and nobleman Comte Louis de Buade de Frontenac, Kingston is often referred to as the "Limestone City" because of its many beautifully preserved homes, buildings and churches, many of which bear the Frontenac name. The first building erected in Kingston — Fort Frontenac — is still standing on the city's waterfront and used by the Canadian military.
Fort Henry, built during the War of 1812, is one of the city's many historic landmarks. In 2007, the United Nations declared Fort Henry, four Martello towers and the Rideau Canal as a world heritage site. Kingston forms the southern end of the canal, a scenic 202-kilometre waterway that connects the city with Canada's capital city of Ottawa.
Kingston is considered one of the best places to live in Canada. It has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons and a highly educated workforce. The city is rich in parks, arts and recreation facilities. Hundreds of international students come to Kingston every year to study at two of Canada's oldest universities, Queen's University and Royal Military College, and at St. Lawrence College. Kingston is also home to a large military base.
Originally settled by the French, modern-day Kingston still has a large and vibrant francophone population. Many Kingston residents are descended from the United Empire Loyalists who came to Canada after the American War of Independence in the late 1700s.
Kingston is noted for its quality of life and convenient location mid-way between two of Canada's largest cities, Toronto and Montreal. Kingston is two hours by car from the nation's capital of Ottawa. From 1841-44, Kingston itself served as Canada's capital city. Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, is buried in Kingston's historic Cataraqui Cemetery. Every year, the city hosts "First Capital" celebrations in honour of its role in Canada's history.