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Winter Update

In case you’re wondering: here’s a bit of a progress report!

Today I had the pleasure of accompanying Mary Farrar and Elizabeth Durno (Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour) and Kristiana Clemens (CFRC Radio) to collect cheques from the mayor for two Kingston Heritage Fund Grants. I’m very grateful for this support. The project with FKIH, a compendious book about the Swamp Ward and Inner Harbour, won’t begin in earnest until 2017. But the project with CFRC will start soon. This spring, we will be hiring an oral history coordinator and an audio producer to help take the audio documentation and exploration dimensions of SWIHHP to the next level. This project will also feature workshops to train community members in oral history techniques. Watch this space for more information about the jobs and the workshops.

We are in the final stages of a walking tour to be mounted as a mobile app on the City of Kingston’s platform. Bronwyn Jaques did most of the research for this over the summer, building on the work of Mary Farrar. Some of you will have attended Bronwyn’s live version of the tour at the end of the summer. In November and December, I wrote a script for the app, and Bronwyn came back to help me collect images. The images are amazing: we have collected all sorts of maps, aerial photos, portraits, and other photos that will make the area’s history come to life. Here’s a teaser, a photograph by Stefan Nybom who worked at Canadian Dredge & Dock as a young man in the early 1970s. The dry dock is still there, and so is the causeway, and so is Fort Henry, but the rest of it would be impossible to imagine without a photograph such as this.

Stefan Nybom, Canadian Dredge & Dock ca. 1973

We benefitted from the expertise of many people on various elements of the tour and learned a lot of new things in the process. We’ll let you know when this app will be available to download — for free! And in the spring we hope to have some sort of launch celebration in Fluhrer Park.

I have proposed two papers to the Association of Critical Heritage Studies in April in Montreal, and have just found out they have been accepted. I look forward to that gathering to contextualize what we are doing in Kingston.

Several volunteers and a Queen’s Cultural Studies research assistant have been beavering away doing data entry, in which we take information from twentieth-century city directories, school records, and tax records to get a snapshot of demographic details and trends in the neighbourhood. The tax records are more challenging to read than the other sources, but they are exciting because through them we learn about boarders, and are seeing how many of the houses in this area were multi-family. We know the names of people who lived on Raglan, Rideau, Bay, Montreal, Bagot, and Patrick Streets from 1929 to 1978, and we’re almost done with Ordnance and Sydenham. We’ll be thinking up ways to share and animate this information.

Two other volunteers are helping me get up to date with summaries of oral history interviews I’ve done.

We’re waiting to hear whether artist Nancy Douglas gets her Ontario Arts Council grant to work with residents of the Swamp Ward to interpret community history through art.

I think that’s about it for now. I’ll be back with SWIHHP full time April to August. But if you have any ideas or questions in the mean time, don’t hesitate to contact me at

— Laura Murray


  1. Margaret Little

    Wow! Laura, you’ve been very busy! Sounds wonderful! Let me know if there is any way the Other Kingston Project can support you in these important endeavours.
    Take care,

  2. Kelley Bolen

    A very exciting project!! I live in the SWIH hood and have always been curious about its history. Can’t wait to check out the app …..

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