In an effort to capture the essence of this historical landmark and important part of Canada’s history, a video was created. We hope you enjoy it and share it within your networks.
Until its closure in 2013, KP played a significant role in Canadian federal corrections. Originally called the “Provincial Penitentiary of the Province of Upper Canada” or the “Provincial Penitentiary” for short, it was constructed through 1833 and 1834 during the reign of King William IV.
Under the direction of William Powers, an American, its design was heavily influenced by the system in place in Auburn, New York at the time. The building consisted of a single, large limestone cellblock containing 154 cells in five tiers and some other outbuildings used as industrial shops, sheds, stables, and residences for the administration. The penitentiary officially opened with the arrival of its first six inmates on June 1, 1835 under the direction of Warden Henry Smith and Deputy Warden Mr. Powers. When completed, it was the largest public building in Upper Canada.
The original cells within the penitentiary measured just 73.7 cm (29 inches) wide by 244 cm (8 feet) deep and 200.7 cm (6 feet, 7 inches) high. The entire compound was initially surrounded by a 12-foot high picket fence made of wood. Over the course of its history, the building underwent numerous renovations and additions, including in 1959 when the Regional Treatment Centre (RTC) was developed to provide a greater focus on the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders - an important step forward in CSC’s history. Just over three decades later, the RTC became a standalone facility.
In 1990, the Kingston Penitentiary complex was designated a National Historic Site of Canada due to “the sophistication of its plan, its size, its age, and the number of its physical facilities of special architectural merit that survive from the 19th century.”
On September 30th 2013, KP and the RTC officially closed their doors as correctional facilities. Although this was a challenging time for the Ontario Region, it was an opportunity for people to reflect on 178 years of achievements for public safety, as well as to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the countless staff, volunteers, and partners and stakeholders who helped lead CSC to where it is today.