Canada's Big House - The Dark History of the Kingston Penitentiary
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Canadianzombie
N 44° 13.263 W 076° 30.824
18T E 379088 N 4897538
Quick Description: A Historical look at Canada's Oldest (and most infamous) Prison
Location: Ontario, Canada
Date Posted: 4/22/2012 10:21:17 PM
Waymark Code: WME9H7
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 32

Long Description:
"Originally constructed in 1833–1834, and officially opened on June 1, 1835 as the "Provincial Penitentiary of the Province of Upper Canada," it is one of the oldest prisons in continuous use in the world. Kingston Penitentiary is one of nine prisons in the Kingston area which range from low-security facilities to the maximum-security facilities Kingston Penitentiary and Millhaven Institution (which was initially built to replace Kingston Pen)."

"The institution was built on land, described as "Lot number twenty, in the first concession of the Township of Kingston" The site was chosen for combining the advantages of perfect salubrity, ready access to the water, and abundant quantities of fine limestone. Six inmates were accepted when the penitentiary was opened."

"The penitentiary's western wall adjoins the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, which hosted the sailing events for the 1976 Summer Olympics. Immediately across the road to the north is the now closed Kingston Prison For Women (the property is now owned by Queen's University), officially opened on January 24, 1934 to take female prisoners who had originally been housed in segregated quarters in the main facility."

"On August 15, 1954, a two-hour riot broke out in the penitentiary, the worst in its history up to that point, involving about a quarter of the prison's 900 inmates. During the riot a breakout was attempted, but was foiled by the guards at the gate. The trouble apparently began during a morning baseball game in the exercise yard, when a guard was attacked, followed by several inmates setting fire to various buildings in the yard, including the shops and a warehouse, causing an estimated $2 million in damages. The disturbance was quelled by the guards aided by 160 Canadian Army troops and a squad of RCMP officers. The 50 ringleaders were placed in solitary confinement."

"On April 14, 1971, a riot lasted four days and resulted in the death of two inmates and destruction of much of the prison. Security was substantially increased and prison reforms were instituted."

"From 1971–1981, the penitentiary served as Corrections Canada's Ontario Region Reception Centre. Today the facility houses between 350 and 500 inmates plus another 120 at R.T.C. (the Regional Treatment Centre) contained within the prison. Every inmate is given an individual cell."

"In 1990, Kingston Penitentiary was designated a National Historic Site of Canada."

"In April 2012, the Government of Canada announced plans to close the penitentiary."

(Info sourced from wikipedia)

The book by Peter Hennessey describes the contradictions in the original intent for the facility and the reality of it's sometimes cruel and dark past. It's ironic that this facility recently was given notice by Corrections Canada that it would be closing it's doors within the next two years. The author asks the question "what should be done with this relic of a prison". Well I guess that's no longer in question, but it's still a good read, if not to get some historical perspective on good intentions gone wrong.

Cheers
CZ
ISBN Number: 9781550023305

Author(s): Peter H. Hennessy

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