Kingston Penitentiary Tours, Kingston

4.6
#2 of 13 in Tours in Kingston
Historical Tour · Walking tour
Kingston Penitentiary is a former maximum security prison located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, between King Street West and Lake Ontario.HistoryConstructed in 1833–34, and opened on June 1, 1835 as the "Provincial Penitentiary of the Province of Upper Canada", it was one of the oldest prisons in continuous use in the world at the time of its closure. Kingston Penitentiary was 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 cells originally measured 73.7 (26 inches) wide by 244cm (8 feet) deep and 200.7 cm (6 feet, 7 inches) high. The area had a 12 foot high wooden picket fence. In 1845 towers, stock walls and the north gate house were completed. In 1859 – 1861 a dome was added connecting four cellblocks.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. Charles Dickens visited Kingston in 1842 and commented in his American Notes, "There is an admirable jail here, well and wisely governed, and excellently regulated, in every respect. The men were employed as shoemakers, ropemakers, blacksmiths, tailors, carpenters, and stonecutters; and in building a new prison, which was pretty far advanced towards completion. The female prisoners were occupied in needlework." 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), opened on January 24, 1934 to take female prisoners who had been housed in segregated quarters in the main facility.
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Kingston Penitentiary Tours reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
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4.6
TripAdvisor
  • This was a "must" for me for awhile, and glad I finally for around to doing it today (22OCT). Ive been on a few other prison tours, such as Alcatraz ... which was great but very much hyped up...  more »
  • Very interesting tour!! Our tour guide Emma was great! Would go again😁 A++. I have to write more to be able to post this so ... zzz xxx ccc  more »
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  • Our tour guide David was amazing, very knowledgeable and fun. The tour is very informative, educational and interesting. I would highly recommend going and doing the extended tour. 2 1/2 hours flew by in no time. We thought it would be a neat idea if they added a haunted tour to the Pen at night, as David had mentioned some ghost stories. It would be incredible to be able to elaborate on these stories. It would be a really cool idea to add this as an additional option.
  • Our tour guide, Shawna, did a great job sharing the history of the prison. The obvious highlight was hearing from former staff (guards, nurses, and admin) with first hand experiences and stories to share. Everyone we heard from brought their own perspective and personality. They don't talk about the prisoners to respect privacy, but the hour and a half flew by without it. Would recommend to anyone with a few hours to spare in Kingston! Definitely worth the price of admission.

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