Neighbourhood gems: Sydenham Ward

By Abbey McCauley

Sydenham Ward encapsulates over 200 years of Kingston’s history and showcases some of the finest 19th-century architecture in Canada. Old Sydenham was designated a historic district in 2015, with more than 550 notable character homes. This historic area is located roughly between Princess Street, Barrie Street, and Lake Ontario. The unique street grid of the neighbourhood offers views of Lake Ontario, City Park, and downtown Kingston.  

On a stroll through Sydenham Ward, you’ll encounter notable buildings, such as a courthouse and a castle, along with numerous churches, inns, and dining establishments. Lace up your sneakers and discover the gems of Sydenham Ward today.  

Neighbourhood sites  

The Spire

82 Sydenham St  

Built as a Methodist church in 1851, The Spire has been a notable Kingston landmark for over 170 years. A vibrant community hub, the building is home to the Sydenham Street United Church, which shares the space with more than 20 arts, culture and non-profit groups. The building is used as a performance hall, concert venue, and community meeting place. The Spire welcomes visitors daily for activities and events.  

City Park

79 Barrie St 

Looking for a spot to relax and enjoy the scenery of the Sydenham Ward neighbourhood and Lake Ontario? City Park is a lush and shady park with mature trees, walking paths, picnic tables, benches, playgrounds, tribute gardens, and war memorials. Large grassy open spaces make it a location of many art shows, picnics and theatrical performances, such as the Women’s Art Festival and the Kick & Push Festival events.

The view of Frontenac County Courthouse from City Park / Credit: Jordan Milani

Frontenac County Courthouse

5 Court St 

Walking north through City Park, you will find the Frontenac County Courthouse. Constructed in 1858 and rebuilt in 1874 after a damaging fire, the courthouse symbolizes judicial and governmental development in Kingston’s 19th century. The building, made from limestone, is designated as a National Historic Site. The courthouse still operates today, so take in the architecture and history from outside. 

McIntosh Castle

14 Sydenham St  

Did you know that Sydenham Ward is home to Kingston’s only castle? McIntosh Castle was built in the 1850s for a Scottish ship owner, Donald McIntosh. It is rumoured that house’s inhabitants would use the house’s turrets to watch the court proceedings happening across the street at the Frontenac County Courthouse. As a residential property, it is not open to the public. Still, visitors are welcome to wander down Sydenham Street to view the property. 

Historic hotels  

The street view of The Rosemount Inn / Credit: Tim Forbes

The Rosemount Inn

49 Sydenham St 

The Rosemount Inn is a boutique, Victorian-style hotel nestled in the limestone streets of Sydenham Ward. It was built in 1850 as The Rosemount House for Edward Hardy, an English merchant. In 1990, The Rosemount Inn was opened to travellers to experience the historic yet modern guestrooms and amenities.  

Contact: 613-480-6624 | | Contact form

The street view of the Hochelaga Inn / Credit: Hochelaga Inn

Hochelaga Inn  

24 Sydenham St 

Hochelaga Inn currently operates as a bed and breakfast; however, it was once home to John McIntyre, mayor of the city, in 1878. It was sold to the Bank of Montreal in the early 1900s, then became apartments in 1933 and was eventually converted into an inn in the 1980s. The inn’s name, Hochelaga, is an Iroquois word for the land on which Montreal is built.  

Contact: 613-549-5534 |

The exterior of the Secret Garden Inn / Credit: Tim Forbes

The Secret Garden Inn

73 Sydenham St 

The Secret Garden Inn offers luxurious rooms in a grand Victorian home built in 1888 by leather merchant and furrier John McKay. Following four generations of McKay inhabitancy, the building became home to many other notable Kingston families before being transformed into a bed and breakfast in 1996. 

Contact: 613-548-1081 |

The street view of the Frontenac Club / Credit: Tim Forbes

Frontenac Club

225 King St E 

Steps away from downtown Kingston, in Sydenham Ward, you will find the Frontenac Club. “The Club” is a heritage limestone building, originally opened in 1845 as the Bank of Montreal. It was completely restored and re-opened in 2020 as the Frontenac Club, with amenities that include the Bank Gastrobar, private back patio, and fireplaces in every room.  

Contact: 613-547-6167 | Contact form

Educational museums  

Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston

55 Ontario St 

The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes is home to the Kingston Dry Dock, a National Historic Site. The area was once a shipyard and port that supported the Canadian shipping and naval industry. The museum was established in 1976 to share the story of maritime heritage of Kingston and the Great Lakes. Visit to experience their detailed exhibits and collections, guided tours, and educational programs.  

Open: Mon – Sun (10 am – 5 pm)

Contact: 613-542-2261 |

PumpHouse Museum

23 Ontario St  

A historic Kingston treasure, the PumpHouse is one of North America’s six remaining preservedwater pumping stations from the 19th century. Built in 1850 in response to a devastating fire that swept through the city, Kingston’s first water pumping station operated until 1951. Visit the museum to view their informative exhibits and engage in family-friendly activities.  

Open: Tue – Sat (10 am – 5 pm)

Contact: 613-544-7867 |

Decadent dining  

Old Farm Fine Foods  

204 Barrie St 

Old Farm Fine Foods prepares fresh lunches daily, using as many local products as usual. They also sell a selection of quality meats, produce, and dairy products. In the spring, they sell vegetable seedlings you can plant in your garden. Stop by to try their delicious goodies!  

Open: Mon – Fri (8 am – 6 pm), Sat (10 am – 5 pm)

Contact: 613-546-3276

Curry Original

175 Bagot St  

For Indian cuisine in Sydenham Ward, head down to Curry Original. Their menu is prepared with traditional recipes, authentic Indian spices, and fresh ingredients. During the summer, choose to dine on their outdoor patio while enjoying a view of the historic Sydenham Ward streets.  

Open: Mon – Sat (11:30 am – 2 pm, 4 – 9 pm), Sun (4 – 9 pm)

Contact: 613-531-9376

The stone exterior of SENS Café / Credit: Bernard Clark

SENS Café  

136 Ontario St  

A visit to SENS Café is a must during a trip to Kingston. The owners, Isabelle and Pierre Tardiveau, hailed from Annecy in the French Alps to establish a coffee shop in Kingston in 2020. Visit to try their specialty coffees, beverages, homemade food, and French pastries. SENS Café extends an invitation to not only savour their coffee but also forge meaningful connections with the Kingston community.  

Open: Tue – Fri (8 am – 5 pm), Sat (9 am – 5 pm), Sun (9 am – 4 pm)

Contact: (613)-766-2466