Kingston is a town rich with history. We began our Kingston day visiting Fort Henry. This fort was originally constructed during the war of 1812, with a much larger construction replacing it in 1830. The fort was built both to protect the navel dockyard and also to protect the Rideau Canal.
The docents at Fort Henry, dressed in period costume, were knowledgeable and quite informative. We learned how being an officer was a 'purchased' position only. Officers also never carried a rifle and only carried a sword. Officers had a cook and their own dining rooms where they dined with other officers. At officer meals 4 topics of discussion were forbidden: women, politics, shop talk and religion.
Enlisted men could petition to marry only after having served for 14 years. The married quarters were incredibly small (shown below) and separated from other married couples only by a curtain. Each married quarter consisted of three small beds, no matter how many children one had (one bed for the enlisted man, one for the wife and one for all of the children). Also unique to the enlisted was enlisted men were given: 1 lb bread, 1 lb. potatoes and 3/4 lb meat each day. Wives were given 1/2 this amount and children 1/4 this amount. Enlisted men did not have a cook and normally all the enlisted men would pool their daily food rations together and trade off cooking for the group.
While in Kingston we also visited the Kingston Penitentiary Museum. The prison originally opened in 1835 and when opened there was no categorization of prisons including no difference made for woman or youth or degrees of offense. The youngest offender housed in this penitentiary was an 8 year old pick pocket. This prison, was eventually termed a maximum security prison. On its closure on 9/30/13 it was one of the longest continuous use prisons in the world.
Many of the punishments displayed in this museum, from early times, seemed a bit barbaric, at least for today. We learned, however, how the Canadian prison system has been reformed greatly. Prisoners today in Canada are evaluated upon entry concerning what factors caused them to end up there. Each prisoner is given an individual incarceration plan today. Part of that plan includes education, with it being mandatory that each inmate successfully complete the 10th grade level of education work. Also included in that plan are completion of job skills training, sometimes detox and most often counseling. Life sentences today in Canada technically mean 25 years (if the prisoner has successfully completed their incarceration plan) with a lifetime of supervised probation on the outside.
We later spent a short time walking around downtown Kingston. The downtown area has many historical buildings that are simply beautiful.
Last we drove along the shore of the Thousand Islands....yes the birthplace of Thousand Island Dressing. We took the bridge over the Thousand Island area to return back to the United States.