Kingston is roughly half way between Toronto, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec along the three major east-west transporation routes in Central Canada: the Saint Lawrence Seaway, Ontario Highway 401 (the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway, which turns into Quebec Autoroute 20), and the Canadian National Railroad main line. Kingston also lies at the south end of the Rideau Canal, originally built to connect Lake Ontario with the Ottawa River to provide a safe transportation route far from the American border. Kingston's airport, Norman Rogers Airport (CYGK), has regularly-scheduled air service to Toronto.
The European settlement of a traditional Mississauga First Nation site began in 1673 by France with the etablishment of Fort Frontenac, and was captured by the British at the end of the Seven Years' War. A receiving centre for fleeing refugees from the American Revolution, it became the primary community of south-eastern Upper Canada.
New settlement from the United Empire Loyalists (UEL) and Mohawks from the Six Nations in New York, lead by Molly Brant, formed a signficant part of an expanding population in the area at the end of the 18th century.
During the War of 1812, Kingston was the base for the Lake Ontario division of the Great Lakes British naval fleet and engaged in a vigorous arms race with the American fleet based at Sackett's Harbor, New York for control of Lake Ontario. After the war, Britain built Fort Henry and a series of distinctive Martello towers to guard the entrance to the Rideau Canal (the fort is still standing and is a popular tourist destination).
Kingston was one of the contenders for the capital of the united Canadas before Confederation, but after a brief stint from 1841 to 1843, it lost out first to the capital alternating between Montreal and Toronto, and then later to Ottawa, Ontario; it was, however, the home of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Kingston was an important Great Lakes port and a center for shipbuilding and locomotive building, including the largest locomotive works in the British Empire (the Canadian Locomotive Company - later Fairbanks-Morse - closed in 1969), but most heavy industry has now left the city and employment is now primarily in the institutional, military, and service/retail sectors.
Canadian Forces Base Kingston (CFB Kingston) houses the Canadian Armed Forces' military communications training centre.
Canada's largest group of federal prisons, including Kingston Penitentiary, are located within the city or in the immediate area.
The city is famous for its fresh-water sailing (it hosted the sailing events for the 1976 Summer Olympics). CORK - Canadian Olympic Regatta Kingston - is still held every August. Its thriving downtown is the site of several major festivals every summer.
Links to Kingston info: