This page, thanks to the tour folks of Kingston Pen, offers us a different perspective of Kingston Pen.
This is page six about the Kingston Pen on this website. If you would care to see the pages and photos in order here is page one.
To help you identify where things are inside the pen, I have used the aerial photo provided in the Kingston Pen Tours brochure and reproduced it here.
What the aerial view of Kingston Pen shows:
Enter: is one half of the main gate facing onto King Street in Kingston
Muster: After entering and filling out the waiver of claims form, we gathered in the muster area, which was originally one of the places visitors would wait for their inmates to arrive at the visitor areas
Marker 1: As we left the muster building, we encountered the conjugal town homes where inmates and significant others could meet in this Private Family Visit area shown on this page of this website
Marker 2: We then headed over to the outside of of one of the cell blocks, and turning towards the front of the pen, this was the view of the inside of the main gate
A departing vehicle would pull up just past a yellow line painted on the driveway. The driver of the van would exit, to prove that he or she was not a hostage. The vehicle was searched. The barred gate would open, in so doing the gate would seal up the walk-through door, and the vehicle would drive into the hall in the front wall of the pen. The barred gate would be shut, and the vehicle searched again. Only after this procedure would the main gate be opened to allow a vehicle out of the pen. The same procedure was followed if a vehicle were to enter via the main gate.
Typically, vehicles entering and leaving the pen would use the Sally Port, located at marker 20 on the aerial view. The same strict protocol of multiple searches was observed there as well.
Marker 3: we were not allowed to enter this building which was, up until the pen closed, the administration building. Prior to it being the admin offices, this building was the original cell block for the women incarcerated in Kingston Pen, before the Prison for Women was built.
Here is the aerial view again, so that you don’t have to keep scrolling to the top of the page.
Marker 4: this is shown as the Keeper’s Hall or Services building, and was formerly a dining hall and chapel. We had a look around outside, but were not allowed into this building.
Marker 5: this is the famous Dome. More information and lots of photos can be found on this page focusing on the Dome.
Marker 6: we entered the “typical cell block” at the outer end and had a view of that before reaching the Dome.
Marker 7: this is the Kingston Pen “dissociation unit”. It’s a segregation cell block that keeps high profile prisoners , those in danger from other inmates, away from the general prison population. I believe this building is also the wing that houses the Kingston “Hole”. To the right of building 7 is a triangular area. This is the “yard” for the prisoners in the Kingston punitive cell block, an area with very high walls, no windows, and in which a prisoner in the Hole would get spend one hour per day for fresh air. Above the walls, wire mesh covers much of the opening to the sky.
Marker 8: tour goers were not allowed to enter this building said to house the former Regional Treatment Centre and some of the workshops.
Marker 9: this was a bit of surprise. The prison made accommodation for first nations prisoners, providing this place for native Canadian healing ceremonies, etc., catering to some of the needs of native Canadian inmates. This following graphic is an excerpt from God’s Plenty: Religious Diversity in Kingston By William Closson James, McGill-Queen’s Press.
As mentioned earlier, I found this area to be a bit of a surprise, not being aware that native Canadians were offered alternative correction inside the walls of Kingston Pen.
Marker 10: this is the center of the various shops inside Kingston Pen. This area is called the Shop Dome, part of which can be seen in the following image.
Marker 11: being inside allowed us a glimpse into one of the shop areas extending out from the Shop Dome. All of the equipment was either gone, or wrapped for shipping out. Piles of material – wrapped and not visible – abounded. No real indication of what type of work would have been done in this shop wing, unfortunately.
Here’s the aerial photo again.
Marker 12: this was the exercise yard for the prison inmates, though now, it’s been spruced up with stadium seating for the visit in the fall by the RCMP musical ride. While not certain, I expect that this particular entertainment wasn’t available within the walls of Kingston Pen when there were prisoners incarcerated. It was from this exercise yard that one the pen’s prison breaks occurred.
Marker 13: this is the Regional Treatment Centre ( I make that to be the prison’s hospital) and we were not permitted to enter. Our tour guide did tell us of the hauntings said to occur from time to time inside the walls of this building.
Marker 14: this was the hospital for Kingston Pen. Inmates would attend here if in need of urgent care. Long term illnesses would likely have resulted in the inmate being admitted to the Regional Treatment Centre facility. Access was not permitted to the tour guests.
Marker 15: this was the prison Kitchen, and was not open to tour guests.
Marker 16: this was, and is a storage area outside the walls of Kingston Pen. The visitor parking extends down to the wire mesh fence that separates this yard from the parking area, and prevents access to it. I walked down to the fence to see inside piles of material from the cell blocks. Prisoner shelving unit stacked, wrapped and palleted for shipping elsewhere. Along with this materiel, I couldn’t help but wonder what mementos and memories went along?
Marker 17: this points to the Penitentiary Museum located directly across from the Kingston Pen. Originally built for, and lived in, by the Warden of Kingston Pen, this beautiful home is now replete with memorabilia from Kingston Pen and the Canadian Penal System. Goodwill donation is all that it costs, and is worthwhile taking in.
Marker 18: inadvertently omitted.
Marker 19: just beyond the walls is part of Kingston Harbor. I would expect that prisoners could, from time to time, hear the sounds of freedom on the other side of these ghastly grey walls.
Marker 20: the “Sally Port”. This was the day-to-day access for trucks and workers in and out of Kingston Pen. The tour guide alluded to, but did not specifically state, that incoming and outgoing prisoners used the front gate of the Pen.
During our visit we were allowed to take some video, but the speed of the tour, and the pressure from another tour group right behind us, prevented us from providing an extensive and first class video. Nevertheless, here’s what we came up with.
Time served within Kingston Pen must have been really hard time. Nevertheless, serve time they did, right up until they died or were released.
What is to become of Kingston Pen? I certainly don’t know. That the Parks of the St. Lawrence and the United Way want the tours to continue is a certainty. The popularity of the Kingston Pen tours is still ongoing, and organizers hope to continue these tours into 2017.
After that? Who knows? We’ll just have to adopt the attitude of the inmates of Kingston Pen, as seen on a sign on a workshop wall, inside the walls.
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