Kingston: A Geopolitical Location

1780-1890
Kingston City Hall and the Market Battery, 1857. Source: Queen's University Archives, William Sawyer fonds.Pinterest
Kingston City Hall and the Market Battery, 1857. Source: Queen's University Archives, William Sawyer fonds.

Following the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists (UEL) in the 1780s, sensitivity between the Americans and the British over their mutual frontier was to have implications for Kingston for the next century. The Treaty of Paris (1783) ended the American Revolutionary War and established a frontier along the 45th parallel between Lower Canada (Quebec) and New York and the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes became the divide between Upper Canada (Ontario). This was confirmed by the Jay Treaty (1794) and the Treaty of Ghent (1815) following the War of 1812. Ironically, the first trans-border threat was defeated by British forces from Kingston (Fort Henry) with American cooperation: the Battle of the Windmill (1838) near Prescott, Ontario. Other continental geopolitical tensions had local repercussions in Kingston in the 19th century: the Oregon Crisis (1845-6); the American Civil (1861-65); the Alaskan Boundary Question (1890s). Distant as some of these perceived threats dissensions were, the proximity of the U.S. frontier focused attention on developing Kingston’s defences.