Growing European exploration in the 17th century, and the desire for the Europeans to establish a presence close to local Native occupants to control trade, led to the founding of a French trading post and military fort at a site known as “Cataraqui” (generally pronounced “kah-tah-ROCK-way”) in 1673. This outpost, called Fort Cataraqui, and later Fort Frontenac, became a focus for settlement. Since 1760, the site of Kingston, Ontario, was in effective British possession. Cataraqui would be renamed Kingston after the British took possession of the fort, and Loyalists began settling the region in the 1780s.
Kingston was named the first capital of the United Province of Canada on February 10, 1841. While its time as a capital city was short (ending in 1844), the community has remained an important military installation. Kingston was the county seat of Frontenac County until 1998. Kingston is now a separate municipality from the County of Frontenac.