During the past year, I’ve enjoyed the chance to communicate with Kingstonians as a member of the Community Editorial Board. I came to Kingston in 1969 to join the history faculty at Queen’s, then a liberal arts university with around 7000 students. I had five solid offers that year, and made the big choice to move from Minnesota to Ontario (rather than go to Baton Rouge LA). The university made me an offer I could not refuse—an annual stipend of $9000, raised to $9500 with completion of the PhD—plus a generous pension. Being from California, I had never heard of a pension.
I expected to stay at Queen’s for a few years, and then go back to the “Big Time”. “Dig in and do some good teaching and writing,” my doctoral adviser suggested, “and you’ll be able to go anywhere.” I followed his advice, but—despite several opportunities to depart—stayed put. Queen’s proved itself a fine place to work, for numerous reasons—a short teaching year, good research support, and—most important—bright and challenging students. More than any other factor, those students are the reason I chose to remain.
I am not leaving Queen’s, despite nearing the unmagical age of sixty-five. Teaching and writing is too much fun. In fact, I’ve told the Dean over the past few years that he’ll have to shoot me off the stage at Dunning or Etherington Hall. He retorted that that could be arranged. But perhaps new Ontario legislation—recognizing the human rights of citizens over as well as under 65—will allow people like me to continue. I’ve long felt that many people over 65 are a lot younger—in heart and mind—than people in their thirties or forties. Vigour is more a state of mind than the state of the body.
I also thank myself for recognizing, early on, that Kingston is far more than hospitable. Indeed, Kingston is a superb place to raise a family; Kingston and environs are incomparable during the summer months; Kingston possesses a vibrant culture and much excitement—if one is creative and knows where to look.
No, we are not New York, not Toronto, not Montreal. But we are close enough to hop-scotch to those locales. Most important, after thirty-five years, Kingston remains a great place to call home.