The Ports ? a piece of local history

18 St. Remy Place K7K 6C4 Published every Thursday by: Sun Media


Kingston This Week mike.beaudin@sunmedia.ca

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Fresh Perspective

Lindy Mechefske I arrive at The Ports, a.k.a. the Portsmouth Tavern, in the midst of a raging blizzard with near whiteout conditions. Snow is swirling down the street. Visibility is minimal. The 401 has just been shut down in both directions between Kingston and Napanee. Inside the tavern it is warm and quiet before the lunchtime rush. Looking back out through the windows, the scene outside appears almost quaint ? like a snow globe ? snow fluttering down on the harbour and dry-docked boats and the stately, impressive and newly empty Kingston Penitentiary. Chuck Norris, who was born and raised on Howe Island, started working at The Ports as a bartender before going on to become general manager. But this is no flash in the pan success story. Chuck, like The Ports, has been around a while. ?I started here in 1975. I?ve been here for 39 years and four months,? he says. He begins his days around 7 a.m. and works until 6 p.m., five days a week, and he opens on Saturday mornings. He?s seen a few things in his time but seems cheerful and unfazed. ?I love the place,? he says, completely matter of factly. He?d better. He?s at work 55 to 56 hours a week. The Ports, in its various guises, is thought to date back to 1863 ? almost a hundred years after the founding of the village of Portsmouth in 1764. In its early days, Portsmouth was a colourful, bustling village ? replete with numerous breweries, shipyards, sawmills, tanneries and, a bit later, the penitentiary and asylum, now known as the Kingston Psychiatric Hospital. It was also home to the infamous ?Portsmouth toughs? ? gangs of b oys who harassed women and others in the streets. According to Portsmouth Village, Kingston: An Illustrated History, by Jennifer McKendry ? in 1873, Rev. Dobbs reported, shock and horror, ?on a gambling den in a disreputable shanty.? Rev. Dobbs also concerned himself with the stricter enforcement of Sunday closures of taverns. And a petition by Angus Shaw recommended, ?A library and reading room to mitigate the evils of drunkenness.? Portsmouth was a lively little spot. In 1864, Edward Beaupre Junior, a grocer and tavern owner, and the son of a ship carpenter, bought the land and building at the corner of the Yonge and Grange streets for $600. By some time in the late 1860s, a two-storey frame building was erected on the site. Originally known as The Farmer?s Inn, it later became the Portsmouth Public House and stayed in the Beaupre family until 1974. Over the years, The Ports has been a watering hole for workers, sailors and students. ?People are lot better behaved now than they once were,? says Chuck. ?You can?t get drunk in a bar anymore ? there are rules and we could be shut down.? These days, the clientele come from all walks of life, adding to the loyal group of regulars. People come because the place has a sense of history and community. During Advent, a large group gather weekly to sing traditional Christmas carols. On Friday nights, there?s karaoke, and on Saturday evenings there?s live music. They also come for the beer and the reasonably priced pub fare. And while the Ports might not be a foodie?s fantasy, it does serve honest pub food. What it lacks in finesse, it makes up for with authenticity, atmosphere and a refreshing lack of pretentiousness. The burgers and wraps are made on site. The KP Burger (named for the penitentiary) is a firm favourite. The hand-cut French fries are arguably the best in town. The club sandwich is made with roast chicken breast rather than processed meat. And the Greek salad, loaded with tomatoes and feta and topped with a red wine vinaigrette, served with or without Cajun chicken, might just be one of the most attractive and tastiest Greek salads around. Service is prompt but there?s no one rushing you to leave. Summer or winter, you?d be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable spot in Kingston than a table at the window of the old Portsmouth Tavern looking out at the boats and water. The Ports is open seven days a week and serves lunch, dinner and munchies daily. On Saturday and Sunday, it serves the regular menu plus an all-day breakfast. There?s plenty of free parking across the road. For more information, including address, hours and a calendar of events, go online to theportsmouthtavern.ca. Classified Advertising ? 1-866-541-6757 Customer Service & Carrier Inquiries 613-389-7400, prompt 3 Managing Editor, Mike Beaudin mike.beaudin@sunmedia.ca Distribution ? 613-389-0257 Regional Distribution Manager Jeff Lundy, Ext. 201 jeff.lundy@sunmedia.ca Flyer Distribution Sales Mike Healey, Ext. 130 mike.healey@sunmedia.ca Publisher/Advertising Director Liza Nelson The contents of this newspaper are protected by copyright and may be used only for your personal non-commercial purposes. All other rights are reserved and commercial use is prohibited. Permission to republish any material must be sought from the relevant copyright owner. Kingston This Week publishes every Thursday and is circulated by carrier throughout the City of Kingston, Loyalist Township and surrounding areas. Kingston This Week is a member of the Canadian Community Newspapers Association and the Ontario Community Newspapers Association.

Letters to the editor

Good being done

Dear Editor, On Dec. 18, H?art Centre was one of many honoured guests to receive hand-delivered donations presented by Routes to Learning Canada Inc. during an intimate gathering held in the reception hall at their offices in the Woolen Mill in Kingston. There were no members of the media, no cameras, and no expectation of publicity. There were just tears of appreciation. Routes to Learning Canada had been regarded as Canada?s leader in lifelong learning and travel since 1986. As of the end of 2013, the charitable organization officially concluded its business and in accordance with the Charities Directorate, it distributed its remaining $270,000 in charitable income to registered charities. The donations were unexpected, needed and welcomed. But truly, it was the personal words from president Victoria Pearson, financial officer Chris Atyeo and program manager Mona Perry that overwhelmed those in attendance. Their words helped everyone in the room realize the good that was being done in our community. I was overcome with admiration for my colleagues and the work they do every day. As an executive director, I understand the pressure that comes at the year-end and with budget planning. So, with each envelope awarded, with each new tear shed, and with each embrace, I felt my colleagues being released from this weight. I heard how projects would move forward, more food would be on tables, more children would attend camps and more good would be done. I would like to thank Routes To Learning Canada Inc. for the donation, but also for the timely reminder of the good being done in our community. I look forward to watching as the organization newly forms as Routes Adventures in 2014. I know they will remain true to the values of lifelong learning and generosity. Katherine Porter executive director, H?art Centre CMCA AUDITED Kingston This Week

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