By Pam Hobbs

Kingston, Ont.:- Like most of us, I suppose, I knew that Kingston is Ontario's oldest community and one-time capital of Canada, site of a world-renowned university, military college and five federal prisons. In times before superhighways, I found it a nice lunch stop on the drive from Toronto to Montréal. Now, arriving two days early for departure on a river cruise, I discover it to be a city deserving much more than a casual glance.

For starters, Lake Ontario waters flow into the St Lawrence River at this point. It is the southern terminus of the Rideau Canal, and gateway to the spectacular Thousand Islands region - making it an ideal base for leisure sailors. For the rest of us there are boat excursions lasting several hours or days.

All over town, 19th-century buildings have been carefully restored, some as living museums and others to house interesting shops and restaurants. In summer, no less than a dozen theatrical groups offer presentations on subjects as Canadian as Sir John A MacDonald and Anne of Green Gables. There are open air markets, waterfront parks, and delightful areas that have changed little in appearance these past hundred years.

This 1200 word article describes the history of this one-time capital of the United Canada's and home of the country's first Prime Minister, ending with:

IF YOU GO: Kingston is 160 miles (260km) east of Toronto. Belleview is open all year, but closed on statutory holidays between October and May, and admission is free. Old Fort Henry is open to the public between May and October. There is a small admission charge for adults.

MORE INFORMATION is available from Kingston Tourist and Visitors Bureau, 209 Ontario St., Kingston, K7L 2Z1. tel (613) 548-4415. Or,