No visit to Kingston is complete without a visit to the historical Kingston Penitentiary. It is the oldest and largest prison in Kingston and housed the most notorious and dangerous criminals in Canadian history. Due to extensive repairs required to maintain the prison, Corrections Canada decided to close the doors and move the prisoners elsewhere. KP, as known to the staff and locals, is a formidable presence along Lake Ontario. The prison was closed in 2013, and since that time has become a very popular tourist attraction for the area. Tours run seasonally (Spring to Fall) and we were fortunate enough to take a tour, which is fully accessible.
Upon entering the giant metal prison front doors, you are assigned a group based on your ticket time slot. The tour begins in the visitation area, complete with glass separating the prisoner from the visitor. This was the only place were we had to temporary separate from the group. They left out a door with stairs so we were escorted by a guide down a ramp and met back up with the group. The guide does wait so you don’t miss any information. Each stop on the tour was a former corrections officer that would provide a bit of history about the prison and answer any questions. They tell you that out of respect for the victims, they will not talk about or answer any questions about the infamous residents of the prison . Accessible companion bathrooms were found at the beginning of the tour and about halfway through the tour.
The tour takes you through the grounds, past the common houses for family visits, to the cells, solitary, outdoor playground, gym, work shop etc. It was incredibly fascinating and if you ever get a chance to watch a documentary before your tour, I highly recommend it. The tour takes about 90 minutes and if you are interested in learning more you can walk across the street to the Penitentiary Museum (former home of a past warden). **Please see my previous blog about the accessibility of the museum**