Dave's Story

Dave St. Onge has worked with CSC for over 30 years. In that period of time, he has become the organization’s national historian – or walking encyclopedia as he is so often called. Ask him a question about our history and he will know the answer. And if he doesn’t (a rare occurrence), he will dig through the massive treasure trove of documents and photos and records he has filed away at his office on the second level of Canada’s Penitentiary Museum in Kingston, Ontario to find it. Dave has dedicated his career to documenting and promoting CSC’s rich history, one that dates far back beyond Confederation - as far back as Charles Dickens, in fact, who once visited the now-closed Kingston Penitentiary in 1842 and wrote, “There is an admirable jail here, well and wisely governed, and excellently regulated in every respect.”

As part of his efforts to educate the public about CSC’s history, this past spring and summer Dave and a team of dedicated volunteers worked tirelessly to welcome over 70,000 visitors to the Museum, the highest number ever.  Their work was recognized and rewarded with a #1 ranking as a tourist attraction in Kingston, Ontario from Trip Advisor. The Museum is not only a must-see for anyone interested in corrections, but is also a great example of collaboration. CSC’s partnership with the Friends of the Penitentiary Museum group allows for over 40 volunteers to provide members of the public with personal tours of the museum. These volunteers are essential to the Museum and its great success as an attraction in Ontario.


In addition to this, Dave was a key player in the development of CBC’s acclaimed TV program, Alias Grace, and was personally thanked in a beautiful letter written to him from the brilliantly talented Margaret Atwood – an honour most could only dream of. Dave also won the “Canada 150 Correctional Services Recognition Award” during National Public Service Week 2017.


Dave is dedicated, hardworking and extremely passionate about his work, and does a spectacular job in researching and showcasing CSC’s story. As a long-serving employee, he is a vital asset to the entire organization.  

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It's refreshing to read about somebody as dedicated as Dave in the development of Canada's Penitentiary Museum. An online virtual tour of the Museum would make it available to a wider audience.