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This section of www.mckendry.net concentrates Lake Ontario Park and the associated public walkway, which reaches from Elevator Bay Park to the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour in the village of Portsmouth, now part of Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  Along with some historical background, there is a Gallery of pictures showing the natural and man-made features of this lakeshore site. For further information on the park's history, see a report by Jennifer McKendry on the City of Kingston website http://www.cityofkingston.ca/residents/recreation/lop/chronology.asp (off-site link)

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Detail from Owen's map (NMC 21943) of 1818 showing "Hatt's Bay" (now the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour Site) considerably west of the town of Kingston, which is located where three bodies of water meet: the Great Cataraqui River (top), the St Lawrence River (upper right) and Lake Ontario (centre and bottom). Compare with a map of the 1960s above

Cataraqui Point is Lake Ontario Park and Cataraqui Bay is Elevator Bay. Note the heights of land and slopes to the water's edge.

 

 

 

 

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Something of the height of land and slope or drop to the water, as noted on Owen's 1818 map (above), can still be seen along the hospital public walkway and at Lake Ontario Park; view© of Samson Point by Jennifer McKendry

 

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1815 map showing a military post or battery constructed during the War of 1812 after the government bought the land north and south of today's King Street West to guard against a landing by American forces who, by a surprise overland attack, could approach and beseige Kingston; previous to the British conquest in 1758, the French had also built a battery in or near Lake Ontario Park.

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Detailed and accurate map of 1869 showing cleared pasture land and forested areas with a fence separating the Sampson farm on land Dr James Sampson (1790-1862) bought in 1833 (see purple for house and barn north of Samson's Point). King Street West is at the map's top.

Site of the Sampson farm  just east of today's chain-link fence separating Lake Ontario Park from the hospital grounds.

 

 

 

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In 1894, when the street railway was extended to it, the most southerly part of today's Lake Ontario Park was used for recreation for Kingstonians; in 1917, the golf club moved to its present site, which included land south of King Street West; by 1918, when this postcard was mailed, swimmers were enjoying the park's rocky shore; by 1924, the allure of a tourist motor camp at the park was being touted in tourist booklets; it is not until 1930 that the park becomes the size we know today, when the city purchased the site from the golf club and the street railway company.

 

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By the time of this air photo of 1953, the sandy bottom of the bay has been dredged to receive large ships carrying grain for storage in an elevator built in 1929 on a pier; a railway track was laid to move the grain by train; the elevator was demolished about 1988; the area is now developed with townhouses and high-rises.

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How many generations of First Nation hunters, French soldiers, Loyalist settlers, Irish emigrant farmers and today's park users have stalked or admired flocks of migrating Canada geese along the lake shore? (here resting along the west shore of Lake Ontario Park, photo© by Jennifer McKendry)

 

 

GALLERY

all photographs© Jennifer McKendry

I have been intensively photographing Kingston’s most interesting urban park – Lake Ontario Park  - and environs, while seeking its secret (and sometimes not so secret) living and dead creatures. Having researched the park’s history for the city in 2006, I then turned to its life force, which has survived the efforts to tame and reshape it as a recreational area, camp ground, amusement park, etc. While built structures come and go, generations of water and garter snakes, fish and mink live, reproduce and die on its shores and in its surrounding waters. The signs may be carcasses, stripped shortly to the bone. Decay is often in the air. I have found the remains have their own beauty forming abstract patterns, sometimes enhanced by combining on the computer a number of images into a composition, which can be symmetrical, repetitive and even aesthetically appealing. Living beasts can also be photographed: 4-foot long, coiled snakes, may tolerate even close-ups; fungi grow, shrink and rot with the seasons creating an intimate world of fantasy. I was privileged to stand in the midst of a gathering of garter snakes, fanatically absorbed in a ritualized circular race in anticipation of group-hibernation. Neighboured by high-rises, a four-lane thoroughfare and a hospital, nature holds its own – to the point that certain visitors spray graffiti on retaining walls and cut slogans into living trees, as if to tame what they cannot understand.

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