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 🙂
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