About Springer Market Square

Located in the heart of the city, adjacent to City Hall, historic Springer Market Square has been well used and enjoyed by citizens and visitors for well over 200 years.  One of the foremost urban open spaces of its kind in Canada, Kingston’s Market Square has been favourably compared to some of the great squares and piazzas of Europe.

The pride and ownership of Springer Market Square is evidenced every day by a simple stroll through the Square at any time of day – people enjoying a coffee and a book at a bistro table, a child delighting in learning to skate, people enjoying live music, someone biting into a fresh apple…every day is different, but every day in the Square is enjoyable.  Surrounded by history and echoes of the past,  today’s Springer Market Square is vibrant, dynamic and alive – and is poised to continue as such well into the future.

What do you see in this space? How do people in the community enjoy it?:

  • Urban space of national significance
  • Centre of commerce, a meeting place, and a civic gathering space for all sized events
  • Historical significance
  • On market days, vendors display their fresh produce and locally produced crafts as their customers stroll the stalls and enjoy conversations with neighbours, farmers and visitors
  • During event days, the Square is alive with energy – people, music and laughter

Events and Festivals:

  • Free Public Skating (artificially chilled rink – ~Dec.1-~March 15 annually)
  • New Year’s Eve activities & fireworks – Dec 31/Jan 1 2016
  • Feb Fest Winter Festival – Feb 4-Feb 7, 2016
  • Kingston Unplugged – Free Earth Hour off-grid concerts – March 19, 2016
  • Kingston Public Market – every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday – April-November
  • Toronto Raptors’ games – outdoor free viewing May 11 & 19, 2016
  • Downtown Kingston Health & Wellness Fair – June 3, 2016
  • Kingston Antique Market – every Sunday, June-October
  • Rock in the Square (free outdoor concert) featured Wintersleep – June 17, 2016
    Canada Day celebrations – July 1, 2017
  • Fort Flash – Fort Henry Guard “flash mob” – every Wednesday June, July & August
  • Kingston Buskers Rendezvous – July 7-10, 2016
  • Movies in the Square (free) each Thursday evening – June 16-September 1, 2016
  • Big Band Fridays – free – each Friday – June, July, August
  • Chef Cooking Demos – free- each Saturday morning, July & August
  • Rock in the Square – free – featured David Wilcox – July 29, 2016
  • The Tragically Hip – a National Celebration – free public broadcast of The Hip’s Kingston concert – August 20, 2016
  • Limestone City Blues Festival – August 25-28, 2016
  • Kingston Santa Claus Parade and Annual Tree lighting w/Santa & The Mayor – November 19, 2016
  • Snow Much Fun – free family event – December 9, 2016
  • Santa in the Square & free horse-drawn wagon rides – each Saturday in December, 2016

Economic and Retail Activities:

  • The Square is bounded on three sides by a diverse, yet harmonious, ensemble of commercial and institutional properties dating from the early 19th century, located on an historic grid of streets including King Street East, Clarence, Market, Ontario and Brock Streets
  • The Kingston Public Market, which runs every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (April-November) is the oldest market in Ontario and has been providing food and a sense of community to residents of Kingston since 1801
  • Currently, the street level businesses include coffee shops, art galleries, specialty shops, restaurants and patios as well as two banks and offices of The City of Kingston

Historic or Heritage Features:

  • Springer Market Square, site of the historic marketplace,dating from 1801, is situated behind historic City Hall, a National Historic Site (built originally in 1843 -1844)
  • Historical Significance of Springer Market Square: The Square was shelled by Col. John Bradstreet’s British troops during the battle of Fort Frontenac in 1758. A military blockhouse was located onsite during the War of 1812. The area also served as the assembly ground for troops going to fight in the Northwest Rebellion, the Boer War and the First and Second World Wars
  • Many significant political events took place at Springer Market Square, such as the proclamation of Upper Canada as a separate jurisdiction by Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1792, the proclamation and celebration of Confederation on July 1, 1867 and the funeral procession of Sir John A. Macdonald in 1891
  • Most recently, history was made the evening of August 20, 2016 when the City of Kingston, along with community partners, facilitated and organized a free public broadcast of “The Tragically Hip – a National Celebration” – CBC’s national broadcast of The Tragically Hip’s Kingston concert – their last concert on their Man Machine Poem tour. Approximately 27,000 people attended the event and aspects were shared with more than 11 million people worldwide

Memorable or Unique Characteristics:

  • Kingston Public Market
  • skating rink (artificially chilled – Dec-March)
  • bistro sets and umbrellas for public use on non-market days – spring, summer, fall
  • Public fountain
  • Performance space
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • “Kingston Remembers” history flipbook
  • Surrounded by Heritage buildings, 1/2 block to Lake Ontario waterfront
    heart of downtown Kingston
  • Community gathering place

Development:

  • In 2004, a significant restoration of Springer Marker Square took place – The $6 million renovations included eliminating parking (metered parking was in place on non-market days), complete surface retreatment, addition of an amphitheatre and fountain (which also serves as the base for the City’s Christmas tree)
  • The 2004 Market Square restoration was almost 75% funded by community fundraising. The goal of the restoration was to maximize the full potential of Market Square, turning it into a year-round public meeting space and focal point for the City where Canadians are inspired to know and appreciate our past
  • A large component of that renovation was the installation of an artificially chilled skating rink which has transformed Springer Market Square into a year-round destination
  • The streets bordering the Square received a cobblestone treatment, further enhancing the appeal of the Square
  • Appropriate street lighting and furniture (planters, benches and garbage receptacles) helped further enhanced the space
  • A subsequent renovation in 2009 added accessible washrooms and skate change rooms and lockers
  • An all-weather, oversized “Kingston Remembers” history flipbook was commissioned, built and installed for the Square detailing its history for citizens and visitors to enjoy

Market Square Webcam: https://www.cityofkingston.ca/explore/springer-market-square/webcam
Downtown Kingston! BIA: http://www.downtownkingston.ca/enjoy
Kingston Public Market: http://www.kingstonpublicmarket.ca/
City of Kingston: https://www.cityofkingston.ca/explore/culture-history/history/market-square
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tVftn0ASH4

 

Quick Facts

Submitted by: Michele Langlois

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