A change of plan – back in Ontario. First stop Kingston

As you do, we flew from one side of the North American continent to almost the other side just for a job interview. The journey and subsequent 5 days in Toronto were only notable for:

  • Having poor plane seats as we booked at relatively short notice and me whinging at Emma about them all flight. My hat then fell on a woman when Emma opened the overhead locker. Oops. Guess it could have been worse though
  • A strange man on the Toronto subway who was returning from Thailand and spoke to us about his Thai girlfriend who he’d left behind
  • The sole of my walking boot trying to get away from the rest of the boot between the airport and our accommodation causing me to shuffle along so I didn’t trip up, all whilst hauling a heavy suitcase and carrying two bags
  • Our AirBnB accommodation coming with free maple syrup and pancake mix, so cue our first pancakes and maple syrup in Canada
  • A 2 hour job interview where I was asked what I thought the relationship between three rectangles was
  • I got the job!
  • My parents’ delight at me getting a job
  • My parents’ despair at finding out that we had no accommodation booked past that evening
Broken shoe
Yeah, it’s difficult to walk when your boot has done this

With two weeks to go until I started my job in Toronto, we decided to have a 1 week road trip to coincide with Emma’s birthday and then spend the second week finding somewhere to live in Toronto and sorting associated things out. So on the Friday that we found out that I had got the job, we spent the afternoon and evening planning our road trip, which would encompass Ottawa, a Quebec spa and Montreal, with stops either side in towns on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Our hire car was a free upgrade to a Mazda CX-9. This vehicle drove fine, but had the most ridiculous boot opening system ever. If you managed to get it open, the same method could not always be guaranteed to work the next time. This could be the cheapest, best driving, safest, most efficient, economical and powerful car you could ever get your hands on, but I still wouldn’t recommend it as you’ll never be able to use your boot.

Mazda CX-9
The Mazda CX-9: that mum looks pleased with herself for getting the boot open, but the smile will be wiped from her face when she can’t get her son’s lacrosse stick (how very Canadian by the way) out later. That dog looks glum, and no wonder, as he knows that once the boot is shut he’s not getting out any time soon. At least he has some supplies to keep him going.


Accommodation for our first night was a motel in Kingston. An unremarkable city from the outskirts, it revealed a better picture of itself the following morning when we had time to explore before heading to Ottawa.

Kingston is not only the birthplace of Bryan Adams, but was once Canada’s capital from 1841 to 1844 before that role passed (initially) to Montreal. There are tell tale signs of this once grander past, as the city is home to the Royal Military College, Canada’s equivalent of the UK’s Sandhurst or the US’s West Point; Queen’s University, one of the country’s most prestigious and oldest universities; and the City Hall which was built with the intention of being Canada’s parliament building, but it never got a chance to fulfil this duty.

Kingston City Hall
Kingston’s City Hall, although it had once been destined for bigger things as the Canadian Parliament

The city centre is home to many old and attractive buildings, houses and a couple of cathedrals. Whilst walking around you wonder how much different the place would have been if it had retained its capital city status.

Martello Tower
A Martello Tower on Kingston’s waterfront – built as a defence against the USA in the 1840s
Cathedral of Saint Mary Kingston
The Cathedral of Saint Mary
Queen's University Kingston
Queen’s University

Our walk took us round some of the main sights in the town, and we completed it with the marked waterfront walk which gave us glimpses of the western edges of the Thousand Islands (yes, the salad dressing islands).

If you found yourself with more than half a day in Kingston, then you could take a boat trip out to the Thousand Islands, or check also check out further sights on dry land such as the Penitentiary Museum with its water-boarding torture contraption.


Waterfront Trail Kingston
The Waterfront Trail in Kingston along the shore of Lake Ontario
The Waterfront Trail is clearly the place to be in Kingston if you are a seagull

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