The riding of Kingston and the Islands has a population of 116 996 with 89 990 registered voters. A predominantly urban riding along Lake Ontario and the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, Kingston and the Islands comprises the municipality of Kingston south of Highway 401 (except the western most area of Loyalist-Cataraqui district), and three of the Frontenac Islands: Wolfe Island, Howe Island, and Simcoe Island.
In addition to its English-French speaking citizens, the riding welcomes people from around the world who have chosen the “Limestone City” as their home. Kingston emulates Canada’s diverse identity with particularly large Portuguese and Islamic populations, as well as a wide variety of smaller ethno-cultural groups. The riding is also the proud home to thousands of service families residing at Canadian Forces Base Kingston.
Kingston’s economy is diverse, innovative, and service-oriented. In addition to its large education sector, Kingston boasts an exceptional variety of employment opportunities. From some of Canada’s oldest historic sites to exciting new tech start-ups, there is something for everyone. The vast majority of employment in Kingston is in the public sphere; CFB, Queen’s University, Royal Military College, St. Lawrence College, as well as the many hospitals, care facilities and correctional institutions provide tens of thousands of jobs to Kingstonians of all backgrounds, while maintaining a largely professional employment base
The education sector is as important to employment as it is to the future of the riding and the country. Each year thousands of future engineers, military specialists, tradespeople, health-care specialists, business-people, public servants, and artists graduate from one of Kingston’s academic institutions and enter the Canadian workforce.
As much as innovation and education are central in the riding, it is history which is truly on display. Kingston was named the first capital of the United Canada on February 10, 1841, and remained the capital for the subsequent three year. Kingston is notably known as the home of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, whose home, Bellevue House, is now a National Historic Site. Another popular tourist attraction, Fort Henry played a key role in fending off invading American ships during the War of 1812, and it was largely operational until 1891. In 1938, Fort Henry began its life as a museum, and is one of many popular historical sites within the riding.
While being integral to the history of Canada, Kingston has also played a significant role in shaping Canadian popular culture. Arguably one of Canada’s most successful bands, The Tragically Hip formed and played some of their first shows at Queen’s. Recently, the Hip have been immortalized in Kingston through having a downtown street bear their namesake.
Kingston’s culture does not end with the Hip. Indeed, between the Wolfe Island Music Festival, the Kingston Canadian Film Festival, the Buskers Festival, and the many galleries and theaters across the riding, the arts are thriving alongside history and innovation. In addition, the riding is home to Canada’s first non-profit musical instrument lending library, offering anyone the opportunity to pick up an instrument without worrying about costs.
The diversity of population and opportunity are only part of what makes Kingston and the Islands so unique. The historical roots paired with a thriving education sector make for a distinct dynamic within the riding. An active cultural scene and waterfront recreational activities make the riding especially enticing to those looking for a healthy work-life balance within a vibrant and diverse community.
© 2017 Mark Gerretsen. All rights reserved.