Portsmouth Town Hall

It Takes a Village.

I live in a village…or it was until 1952 when it amalgamated with Kingston Ontario and is now just part of the city. It is still called Portsmouth Village as it has been since the late 1700’s when it was far out of town, and has gone from a run-down low rent area where someone thought it was a good idea to build two high rises right down on the water, to an owner occupied neighbourhood where we care about the Village and the houses. My house is only 76 years old and there are some that are brand new but many are limestone and over 150 years old.

Portsmouth Historic Village

We care about our neighbours, my longest being my neighbour on the corner who as also lived here for 25 years. We have shared the good and the bad, minded each other homes and shared food when one is sick or or otherwise mobility compromised. Dogs have been walked, parties and yard sales organized and so on.

So now that we are in Stay Home, Stay Safe mode…which has worked really well for our town, we’re not rushing off to work. Many of us are self employed with studios or writing desks, retired or have new senior jobs, taking off to hang out, mooch through the shops or meet a friend downtown for coffee…we’re all just here…at home.

Doors of Portsmouth Village

Listening to a phone in show on the CBC the other day someone commented on the fact that they just walked around their neighbourhood and said hi to any neighbours encountered…especially now that the weather is warm and we are gardening.

I love knowing my neighbours and chatting on the street. I remember one severe snow storm with huge drifts but the next day was a bright, sunny day with a cloudless sky and we were all out shovelling and connecting after the snow had kept us indoors.

Speaking of Doors….my front door is on this poster of Doors of Portsmouth by Nicole Couture-Lord a local photographer. It’s available at Martello Alley.

I’ve been doing just that….and after taking a village tour on the Kingston Walking Tours on my iPad, I’m thinking of a time long ago when all you would hear would be voices of the villagers, the sound of horses hooves and carriage wheels, the blacksmith or farrier’s hammer and the sounds of boat building down by the water.

If you wanted to go into Kingston you would ride your horse, go in with your horse and cart or in a carriage or, later, take a streetcar. Up the hill past the prison, along the lake into the town. I got this from an older lady about 23 years ago. She also said that if your man didn’t come home at the end of the day you had to send your son around 11 taprooms/bars/pubs in the village to find him! Now we just have the Portsmouth House…’The Ports’ …a great place for our hand knitting group to meet Thursday evenings.

There is a wonderful Portsmouth Village walking tour which is part of the City of Kingston Historic Walking Tours….I’ve done part of it when we all first went into Stay Home and Don’t Go Near Anyone Else mode but it was march and I only got halfway around….it was great. Jennifer McKendry, who has written extensively on this part of town, has put together our walk. You go to the City of Kingston Historic Walking Tours and at the side under the photo of City Hall you is a list of links to download the app to your tablet or smart phone.

On a quiet, breezy day, the sound of the lines slapping against masts in the harbour (Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, 1976) remind me of what Hatter’s Bay was when it was a muddy bay with boat building happening, with a blacksmith nearby and the clip clop of horses hooves.

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