August 2016 – we managed to get inside the walls of Kingston Pen, not as a prospective inmate, nor as a break in artist. We took the Kingston Pen tour!
Since 1833/1834 the governments of Canada and the provinces imprisoned thousands of Canada’s most notorious criminals – from very young to quite elderly, inside the walls of Kingston Pen, the dates captured in stone in the walls of Kingston Pen, as seen below.
The Youngest Inmate Inside The Walls Of Kingston Pen?
One of the earliest “criminals” slammed behind the walls of the Kingston Penitentiary was a young man by the name of Antoine Beauche.
In 1845 Antoine was convicted of picking pockets on the ferries running up and down the St. Lawrence Seaway. He was given a three year sentence, and since the Kingston Pen was the only federal/provincial jail in the provinces of Canada, he was sent to the Kingston Pen. Antoine Beauche was flogged 47 times during his three year sentence. When sent to Kingston Pen, Antoine Beauche was eight years old. A clear case of rehabilitation at work… yes?
A mock up of one of the original Kingston Pen cells can be seen in the next image. It is mostly all bed. No room to walk, barely enough height to stand up in, fortunately most had a barred window as can be seen in the photo.
A Kingston Pen prisoner would have been locked into this tiny barred and concrete room, with no person-to-person contact, for years. Small wonder that, when an inmate (or correctional officer for that matter) died within these limestone walls it is said their ghosts may haunt the Pen to this day.
“The original rules for inmates stated that inmates “must not exchange a word with one another under any pretence whatever” and “must not exchange looks, wink, laugh, nod or gesticulate to each other,” with violators receiving the lash.” (Source: By Daniel Schwartz, CBC News Sep 26, 2013 5:00 AM ET)
And as bad as conditions were for men in Kingston Pen, women too were incarcerated there during the first 100 years or so of the prisons existence.
Kingston Pen More “Modern” Cells
The more modern cells – added in the early 1900’s – were substantially better in living condition for the inmates, but were still very small. Two inmates lived most of their time within the confines of a cell as shown below.
Throughout Kingston Pen, the modern contrasts the old. Parts of the prison look relatively new – particularly those areas where the public were admitted – as can be seen in the following photo.
Some of the prisoner areas had been modernized over the years. This next photo gives us a glimpse of the shower cell in one of the cell blocks. Although we didn’t see every cell block, I presume that there was a shower cell in each.
In the farther flung areas, perhaps where the public were rarely admitted, the original stone work attests to the Kingston Pen’s almost 200 years of life, as can be seen in these next few images.
In the image just above, a careful look will show that the paint on an area on each of the lower bars has been chipped away. As part of their regular routine, the Kingston Pen guards would walk along outside this prisoner area, and run their night sticks along the bars each tour, to ensure that they were still firmly held by the cement, and that prisoners had not been trying to loosen them to escape. Regardless of how often painted, almost immediately paint chipped from the bars where the nightsticks rapped the rails.
Lots more information and photos about inside the walls of Kingston Pen right here.