Discover Ontario's history as told through its plaques
2004 - Now in our 13th Year - 2017
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Photo by Alan L Brown - Posted July, 2009
Photo from Google Street View ©2011 Google - Posted February, 2011
Coordinates: N 44 13.255 W 76 30.757
Opened on 1 June 1835, Kingston Penitentiary is Canada's oldest reformatory prison. Its layout - an imposing front gate leading to a cross-shaped cellblock, with workshops to the rear - was the model for other federal prisons for more than a century. Its main structures constitute an impressive grouping of inmate-built 19th-century classical architecture in local stone. Kingston Penitentiary represented a significant departure from the way society had dealt with its criminals. Previously, jails were used primarily as places to hold convicts awaiting execution, banishment or public humiliation. The penitentiary imposed a severe regime designed to reform the inmate through reflection, hard work and the fear of punishment. "KP" employed the congregate system first developed at Auburn, New York, where inmates lived in small cells but work together from dawn to dusk, all under a rigidly enforced rule of silence. Kingston Penitentiary stands as a powerful symbol of this country's commitment to the maintenance of law and order.
Related Ontario plaque
Burwash Industrial Farm
Related Toronto plaque
Don Jail 1859-1864
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