Kingston For History & Heritage Buffs

By Visit Kingston

As Kingston gears up to celebrate Sir John A. Macdonald’s 200th birthday in January 2015, get the jump with the In Sir John A’s Footsteps: Kingston Walking Tour in which professional actors and musicians lead a walking tour of the first prime minister’s favourite haunts. Get oriented with the Old Historical Walking Tour that highlights the downtown core or tour Queen’s University campus with its stately heritage buildings juxtaposed against modern additions. The annual Doors Open Kingston (June) is a fine time to discover hidden history, while no trip to the city is complete without a trip to Fort Henry National Historic Site. For those with a more cut-throat interest in the past, the award-winning Penitentiary Museum gives an insider’s look at what it was like behind the bars of this notorious prison. Compliment your visit with these classic boutiques and gift shops!

1000 Islands Soap Company

This shop feels like a cross between a high-end bakery and an old-fashioned apothecary. Cakes of soap scented with eucalyptus, tea tree, citrus, and other natural ingredients are laid out in glass display cases like pieces of fudge. Shelves proffer body scrubs, aluminum-free deodorant, bath salts, lotions, and other potions. Most of the products are handmade here or in the company’s shop in nearby Gananoque. Adding to the old-timey vibe are the antiques displayed artfully around the store. 339 King Street East 613.546.1700 1000islands

Antique Alley

Tucked away just off Wellington Street (between Princess and Queen) Kingston’s Antique Alley is a treasure trove of eclectic finds, well-curated and aimed at every price point. The 4,000-square-foot space boasts a warren of rooms, roughly divided by era and theme and packed with furniture, vintage clothing, antique toys, cool collectibles, and lighting. Set aside at least an hour to look through all the nooks and crannies. 207-B Wellingston Street 613.545.1120

Bagot Leather Goods

This is the sort of place where the supremely well-informed staff can rattle off the weight and other specs of the dozens of suitcases stacked around the store without consulting a computer or brochure. In other words, you’re in good hands. Among the lines carried at Bagot Leather Goods: Briggs & Riley, Lug, Travelon, and Samsonite. As well as luggage, you’ll find a range of purses, wallets, laptop bags, backpacks, briefcases, and travel accessories. 34 Princess Street 613.544.4612

Becker Shoes

Well-made, comfortable shoes are the stock-in-trade at Becker Shoes, a small southern Ontario chain that has now expanded to eastern Ontario with this expansive Kingston store. Rambling across two storefronts (walk through a small connecting lobby to see both sides) are sandals, shoes, and boots for the whole family by Bogs, Birkenstock, Blundstone, Dr. Martens, Geox, Keens, Mephisto, Sperry, Converse, Mjus, Ugg, and more. While some shoes are decidedly super-sensible, there are lots of options to tempt the fashion-forward as well. 175-179 Wellington Street 613.546.7754

Cunningham and Poupore

Talk about tradition: there has been a menswear store on this site since 1885. The current company started elsewhere in town in 1976 and moved to this atmospheric shop in 1989. Pendant lamps and wooden shelves give it a timeless air, but the merchandise is up-to-the-minute Canadian and European fashion. 75 Brock Street 613.544.1400

Kingston Frameworks

As well as providing the usual range of framing services, Kingston Frameworks tempts browsers with displays by a wide range of Kingston and regional artists, most of whom create work with a sense of local history. Do browse their great collection of Kingston archival photographs. The store recently began carrying a small selection of local ceramics and jewellery. 198 Princess Street 613.546.1868


Part of a small Nova Scotia-based chain — five stores in total — P’lovers is that rare thing: an enviro-friendly store where shopping feels like a treat rather than an earnest duty. Choose from flax sheets, organic cotton baby toys, silky bamboo clothing, eco-conscious handbags and mugs, and books on green living, among other goodies. The bath and body section seems to get bigger every time we visit. 123 Princess Street 613.544.1230

The Roundstone

So you’re not 25 anymore, but you have no intention of dressing like your grandma. Head to The Roundstone, which specializes in classic European-inspired styles. The emphasis at this Kingston boutique is on high-quality, flattering, non-matronly fashions, including the likes of Lundstr.m, Olsen Europe, and Peter Hahn. 50 Princess Streets 613.536.5313

Wayfarer Books Bought & Sold

A mecca for enlightened browsers, Wayfarer draws regulars from as far away as Toronto and Montreal. The long, narrow shop, with its creaky floorboards and rows of dusty bookshelves, is a book lover’s delight — the kind of place a reader could settle in for the day. Owner Walter Cipin, who refers to himself as “a survivor in the book trade,” presides over a vast collection that includes everything from popular paperbacks to textbooks to giant stacks of old National Geographic magazines. There are also prints and vinyl records. 85 Princess Street 613.542.8615
This article has been reproduced from the 2014 Kingston Shop & Dine Guide