CANADA’S BIG HOUSE

All images © Spiral Light Photography unless otherwise noted

“There is an admirable jail here, well and wisely governed, and excellently regulated, in every respect…” – Charles Dickens on visiting Kingston, Ontario, as recorded in American Notes.

Charles Dickens on Kingston Penitentiary
Kingston Penitentiary circa 1906. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

If you got sent to the Kingston Pen, you probably did something really, really bad. Kingston Penitentiary, or KP, Canada’s most notorious maximum security prison was in operation for 178 years. The first prisoners arrived in 1835. and the last ones departed in 2013.  Corrections Canada moved the last inmates out to other institutions in September of that year when the cost to maintain this aging structure became too high to bear.  These thick limestone walls were home to Canada’s most notorious serial killers, rapists, and murderers, a lot of them from recent headlines. There has been a fascination with this institution. It sits right on the shores of Lake Ontario in downtown Kingston. Designated a National Historic Site in 1990, the doors have now been opened to the public. Here are some images of our recent visit.

Wikipedia – Kingston Penitentiary

Kingston Pen Tours

Front DoorFront GateGuard TowerKingston Pen SignBell TowerCell BlockFormer Womens Cell BlockCourtyard facing Main Cell BlockVisiting CellsMain Cell Block RotundaTypical CellCell RangeCell Range GraffitiSegregation RangeSegregation CellShop BuildingWorkroom WindowShop Building StairsShop Building InteriorShop Building DoorWindowWorkroomExercise YardExercise Yard2Wired FenceGuard Tower by the LakeGuard Tower2

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