Kingston Penitentiary already 32 when it became nation’s prison

Kingston PenitentiaryCanadians are celebrating 150 years of nationhood on July 1, marking the birth of the Dominion in 1867. The year also marks an origin point for Kingston Penitentiary, although the institution already was 32 years old at the time of Confederation. Built on the north shore of Lake Ontario in eastern Ontario, on a small bay adjacent to the Village of Portsmouth, the facility was known for the first three decades of its existence as the Provincial Penitentiary at Portsmouth. It received its first prisoners on June 1, 1835. It was renamed Kingston Penitentiary in 1867, becoming the new nation’s first federal prison. Confederation may have stirred joy and national pride, but it was not a happy time for prisoners of the Dominion. A repressive regime of enforced silence, punishment and hard labour persisted at Kingston Pen.

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