Five Signs: You’re in Kingston, ON (*that’s in Canada folks*)

Geography Essay
Photos and captions by Nathan Mattise

College (and post-college limbo) is a time for excessive sleeping, partying, *studying*…. and traveling. It’s one of the finer points of college because there are no real commitments to hold you back. So in the spirit of good roadtrip, In the Pursuit of the Trivial offers the Five Signs series. It’s a photo-documentary account from an exotic location done through the signs ready to greet every and all tourists. Today, welcome to Kingston, ON.

1. Customs Immigration [and the French translation]

Note: Entering Canada was easier than I thought. We didn’t have to leave the car; just provided the appropriate paper work and answered a couple of quick questions. At most a five minute process if there are no issues.

The first thing you notice about Canada – everything is dually in French. Even the stop sign to pass through customs is in French despite my French colleague telling me stop signs in France say “STOP” and not “ARRET.” The only thing I don’t remember seeing in French was the “Welcome to Ontario” and speed conversion grouping

2. Cap’n Crunch [Captaine Crounche]

So seriously, everything is dually in French. Check out the Tim Horton’s Orange Juice or their national postal service. Other uniquely Canadian takes on everyday things include the McDonald’s logo and home and garden magazines.

3. International Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum

That’s a bench in downtown Kingston. I know Canada loves hockey but when this is what the bench sits in front of, maybe you can rename the bench.

4. Pro Wrestling Non-Stop Action

Specifically to Kingston, Ontario – the area is very cool. Loads of individuals were seen running, those just browsing the commercial area were dressed like folks you see in the NYT On The Street feature and the amount of local retailers (albeit record stores, thrift stores, cool restaurants, pubs, etc.) was dazzling. Even the buildings without businesses were well-maintained and enticing (a far cry from my Syracuse or Scranton experiences). The place just gave off a more progressive, more cultured, more hip vibe that was very appealing to me. It’s no surprise that I later learned Kingston is viewed as a Canadian college town.

What does any of that have to do with the above poster? Maybe it’s like the U.S.-Canada tale of the tape. They’re Bushwacker Luke, we’re Bushwacker Butch and look who all the hip people are coming out to see.

5. Tokyo Police Club MAR 25 Weakerthans MAR 29

And the cherry on top of the Kingston culture sundae…Tokyo Police Club (nothing like a roadtrip centered on a concert, eh?). The band is relatively local to Kingston (same province at least) and the crowd certainly showed it. Folks were singing along to songs off both the EP and first album and the venue (a small, intimate one) was packed tightly. I think it’s tough for a band with raw energy to translate well onto a studio recording (and vice versa, see criticisms of “The Rhumb Line”) but TPC is a rare case. Their lanky lead singer has a great awkward rock star stage presence and his vocals remain on point despite his driving bass lines and flailing around antics. Their drummer is just as precise, rythmic, clean, efficient, quick, creative (and every other good drum adjective you can think of) in person as he is on CD. Their unique sub-3 min. song style translates well live (you get to hear every song you want to) and the band knows how to string together a logical song list (case in point, my first mosh pit when “Citizens of Tomorrow,” “Your English is Good” and “Be Good” were played together). It was a show easily worth a three hour drive on a weekday.

And that’s it from Kingston, ON. No signs missed the cut this time around so I’ll keep shooting next trip. Until then, I’ll make sure to keep you posted on the next adventure.

(Links today from Wikipedia, YouTube, US Travel Bureau and

If you want to yell at Nate for this idea because it’s dumb or he utilizes it too much, e-mail him. If you don’t think Kingston, ON is exciting enough, feel free to contact him with a better trip to share too.

Leave a comment

Filed under Columns, Geography

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s