Period : 1800-1850
Here is the Regional Headquarters of the Correctional Service of Canada. This headquarters serves all of Ontario as well as Nunavut. There are thirteen correctional institutions under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Regional Headquarters. Nine of these institutions are located in the Greater Kingston area. Built in 1837, the main building in yellow stucco is “St.Helen’s” named after the wife of the first resident, and the first mayor of Kingston, Thomas Kirkpatrick. This house was chosen to be the official residence for the Prince of Wales when he visited in 1860. Unfortunately, he did not disembark due to political and religious reasons, so he never actually stayed there. The other buildings in the complex, and those behind it toward the lake, are what remain of James Morton’s Kingston Brewery & Distillery.
In 1867, night watchman Cornelius ‘Con’ Driscoll was murdered at the building to the far left of the parking lot during a robbery of the distillery office. The robbers were all captured and one, Ethan Allen, was hanged at the Frontenac County Gaol for the murder.
The large limestone building to the far right was built in 1924 and is known as ‘Stone Gables’.
The original group of buildings was purchased by the penitentiary service in 1968 for use as the regional headquarters for Ontario. In the late 1980s, ‘Stone Gables’ was added to the campus.
As we have seen, Kingston Penitentiary had a lengthy history in this area. It has made a lasting impression not only upon its prisoners, but also upon the many people it has employed and, of course, upon the greater community. Kingston Penitentiary remained a maximum-security institution with a second accredited psychiatric institution, the Regional Treatment Centre, occupying two buildings within the compound. Together they housed around 500 male inmates.
Kingston Penitentiary, and the way in which it is managed, has changed in many ways since it opened more than one hundred and seventy years ago, but the task with which it has been charged is as difficult as ever. It continued to be an important part of the local community until 2013 when it was closed for good.