Thursday Doors – September 26, 2019

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). 

Kingston Pen (Part #1) – Kingston, Ontario

If you were ever to find yourself looking at these doors from this angle every day, then you would have been on the wrong side of the limestone walls of a very unpleasant place.

Built in 1834-35 Kingston Penitentiary was Canada’s longest serving and most notorious maximum security correctional facility.

Often referred to as Canada’s Alcatraz, Kingston Pen housed many of the country’s worst and most hardened convicted criminals, including murderers, serial killers, sex offenders, and violent robbers.

After 178 years of operation Kingston Pen, or KP for short, was closed for good in 2013. While the government took some time to deliberate about what to do with the facility, it was opened to the public with guided tours meant to raise money for local charities.

During that original summer of tour offerings, all 18,000 tour tickets had sold out making it one of the most sought-after tourism activities in south eastern Ontario that year.

Thanks to this morbid fascination with the place, it was decided to merge KP into the adjacent Correctional Service of Canada Museum located in the former warden’s residence directly across the road from the prison.

Today Kingston Pen is easily the most popular part of the museum, offering 1.5 hour, and more in-depth 2.5 hour tours, 5 days a week (6 days a week in summer) between 9:00 am and 5:00 in both English and French. Tickets can and should be booked in advance through their website.

Visitors are taken around various parts of the facility to hear stories of the history of the prison, as well as to get first-hand insights into daily life there as told by retired former guards.

Walking through and experiencing the various cell blocks, workshops, confinement units and cells is both insightful and downright chilling.

The main dome which connects the original four multi-leveled cell blocks contains a bullet-proof glass and steel guards’ station. Standing in front of this mini fortress that would have housed an arsenal, and looking up at the caged-in stairs and walkways that surrounded it, brings home the harsh reality of prison life.

Whether you were a guard or an inmate this was not an uplifting place to be.

Touring one of the cell block rows and getting to step into a few of the cells left me with an eerie feeling that I could only describe as ‘instant hopelessness’.

Most of the cells are barely 6 feet (2 M) wide by 10 feet (3 M) deep, and are equipped with a bunk, a table, a chair, and a storage shelf for personal belongings.

In the latter years, overcrowding was major a problem at the prison. In many of the cells the table was replaced by a lower bunk, putting two inmates in each of these small cells.

With little to no privacy while cramped into such a tiny space, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine how easily tensions could come to a head between cell mates.

Next week if you’re up for it 😉 we’ll explore a bit of KP’s history while looking at some other parts of the prison.

Until then, as always I thank you for for stopping in and reading 🙂

Want to join in on the fun and share your own Thursday Doors post with other door lovers? Then simply add the link to your Thursday Doors post in the comments section below.

Don’t forget that if you share your blog posts on social media, use the #ThursdayDoors hashtag to help others find you, and please do take a few minutes to visit some of the Thursday Door posts shared by others.

About Norm 3.0

World’s youngest grumpy old man & heart failure wonder boy. Interests: writing, woodworking, photography, travel, tennis, wine, and I know a bit about power tools.
This entry was posted in Photo Challenges, Photography, Thursday Doors and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

87 Responses to Thursday Doors – September 26, 2019

  1. Sad place to be in. cool tattoo kit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kelly MacKay says:

    Great Post Norm, I must go visit the Pen… as a tourist of course. We have Dorchester here in NB. I have stopped at the graveyard in its front yard, Not a warm feeling place. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, those were some serious doors, Norm! But really nice and interesting to see. I think Canada’s penitentiary museum looks better, because of the setup and lighting, than San Francisco’s Alcatraz which as I recall from a tour long ago, was dark, dingy and depressing (I guess that should dissuade people from becoming criminals).

    Here’s my TD contribution this week:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Prior... says:

    Such a slice of history you give us here and so true “chilling and insightful” at the same time!
    Also – just was listening to Simmons podcast where they reviewed Shawshank redemption movie – so prison talk has been a theme

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tara says:

    The dome part is, like, pretty in a weird way. The cells are just sad.

    Here’s mine:

    Liked by 2 people

  6. slfinnell says:

    Prison cells definitely gave plenty of time for contemplation. A sobering tour in some ways.
    My link:

    Liked by 1 person

  7. msgt3227 says:

    We just made it back from our trip to Glacier National Park (Yankee side), so I am just a smidge tardy with my post. But here it is!

    Awesome doors! One of the better maintained facilities I’ve seen. “Hopelessness” is the perfect descriptor!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Definitely not some doors I would want to be on the wrong side of, Norm 😁 Here’s my first entry for your challenge:

    Liked by 1 person

  9. TCast says:

    Very Chilling but it is at the same time good to learn about these things. Thanks Norm. Here is my contribution for this week

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Open those doors, let me out! Sorry, just thought I’d add a little drama to the story. 🙂 Very interesting post and place. On a lighter note, here is my entry for this week:

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’ll stick with the outside looking in, if only the walls could talk

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Fascinating – if rather unsettling – yet again, Norm. Meanwhile, out in the sticks…

    Liked by 2 people

  13. One of those images of cell blocks reminded me of Alcatraz. I have toured it several times always learning something new and yeah, bleakness and hopeless are good words to describe the place!

    Yes, to reading some history of KP and seeing more of your images of it.

    Here’s the link to my entry this week.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. JT Twissel says:

    Oh my – so far this Thursday I’ve visited a jail and a poorhouse! Here’s mine – a gold rush town with a sacred tree.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. marianallen says:

    My writers group and I did a reading in a prison once, and it’s pretty dreadful, even when you know you’ll be allowed out in a couple of hours. Prisons, unsurprisingly, are not built to be welcoming and friendly places. The restaurant I’m posting about today, on the other hand, was.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Yikes! Although we can’t expect that prisons would resemble resorts, it’s hard to imagine this one would have produced anything but despair. As you said, both the inmates and the guards must have felt the hopelessness of the place (but at least the guards could go home at the end of their shifts).

    My collection of doors this week is much more upbeat… and a little different.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Dan Antion says:

    I get a little of that hopeless feeling looking st these photos, Norm. It’s positively bleak. I can’t imagine looking out from those little cells, knowing you’re stuck inside. I’m not even sure I could take working as a guard.

    My post –

    I’ll bd buck gif part two.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. lolaWi says:

    chilling…. by contrast, here’s my entry that going through these doors brought me peace and warmth. thank you for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Junieper2 says:

    It must have been depressing to be in there with all these doors locked! And bulletproof glass? Wow. Everything is metal and plastic – no warmth. Hard for me to imagine why people would want to even visit a place without people, like this.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Lynn says:

    I toured KP about a year ago and found it both fascinating & depressing. I cannot imagine being locked up in a facility for any length of time, not to mention living in fear of the other residents who reside with me. I found the most oppressive part was when we visited the area where inmates with mental issues resided. Yikes, can’t even imagine!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. While I admit rushing through your post much faster than usual, since a prison is the last place I’d love to visit right after Chernobyl, I’m still grateful that you went and are showing us what I’ll never see.

    For my today’s post I gathered the helping forces who keep sending me doors. I like to see when what we do here ripples.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Nice photos of the penitentiary. Thanks for a great tour. “Instantly hopeless” is the perfect way to describe the feeling at a prison.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Debbie says:

    Both interesting and scary. Very appropriate for doors – a vital part of a prison!

    Ive gone arty again this week so a bit more cheery.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Ally Bean says:

    Ok, I’m scared straight now. Great photos, but… 😳

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I’ve visited closed sites before, and although it is fascinating, I am glad I don’t have first hand experience. It is great that it is now used for something positive. Thanks for the tour, Norm.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Even from your photographs I can get the sense of how depressing that place must have been. It’s good that it’s been turned into a museum now, better to experience it as a tourist and not an inmate. My post this week is about an equally hope-less place, Norm.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. That is the sort of place that I would send any criminal.
    Here is my contribution this week…

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Dymoon says:

    good morning, love your doors this morning Norm.. here are mine

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Gosh, I can hear the doors clanging shut behind me! Horror.
    Here are my photos for today’s TDs:

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Sheree says:

    Wow, you always set the bar high for the rest of us Norm. Fascinating selection of doors.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Helen Bushe says:

    This is fascinating, creepy, shivery but compelling viewing.

    For this week, I’ve just posted a door that makes me smile

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Jackie says:

    You’ve made me more determined to visit this. Thanks so much for this tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Wow. Those cells are small. I can’t imagine the suffering. How is this environment supposed to aid rehabilitation and re-entry into society, I wonder? People complain about the “lush” prisons today, and I’ve seen the women’s prison that is complained about – it’s not “lush”, but it is humane. More humane than this. This post has started a whole conversation (in my head) about justice and incarceration and what as a society are we trying to achieve when we lock people up. Thanks Norm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Well considering who some of the inmates were, and what they were in for, rehab & re-entry into society was probably not on anyone’s mind 😦
      And I do know what you mean about that internal conversation about justice and incarceration. For me it’s a messy conversation with a lot more gray areas, and not as many that are simple black and white. One thing I’m certain of though,is considering how bad the conditions were at KP, I am glad they finally shut the place down.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Joanne Sisco says:

    Just reading this makes my skin crawl. My sense of claustraphobia alone is enough to keep me on the side of the angels. I’ve toured several prisons around the world and that sense of ‘instant hopelessness’ you mentioned permeated the air in each.

    Although visiting Kingston Pen has been on my to-do list for some time, I just can’t bring myself to go. Thanks for the tour, Norm. This has been the next best thing. It leaves me with a profound sense of sadness.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. scooj says:

    Absolutely fascinating, and some wonderful pictures to really give you a feel for the place. Some lovely (not sure if that is the appropriate word) doors and gates too, especially that fortified door of the main dome.

    Some altogether more lighthearted doors from Fowey in Cornwall from me this week:

    Liked by 1 person

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