Ontario's Historical Plaques 

Discover Ontario's history as told through its plaques

2004 - Now in our 15th Year - 2019

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Kingston Penitentiary

Kingston Penitentiary

Photo by Alan L Brown - Posted July, 2009

Kingston Penitentiary

Photo by Brian Bockus - Posted October, 2018

Plaque Location

The County of Frontenac
The City of Kingston
On the south sidewalk of King Street West
at the foot of Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard

Coordinates: N 44 13.255 W 76 30.757


Plaque Text

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


Assorted Buildings

Kingston Plaques

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