By Peter H. Hennessy

A document in 1833 by means of a committee of 3 revered Kingston colonials known as for the development of a limestone penal complex on Hatter’s Bay to the west of the city. Their file contained those phrases of recommendation for its destiny governors: "…[shall] be a spot by way of each ability no longer merciless and never affecting the future health of the criminal, [but] might be rendered so irksome and so negative that in his lifetime he may well dread not anything quite a bit as a repetition of the punishment…" the most obvious contradiction inside of this ancient mandate of Canada’s immense residence has bedevilled the whole background of the detention center. Its unique excessive ethical function - penitence via silent mirrored image - drifted away into the foggy realm of legit fable virtually once the 1st convicts arrived in 1835.

This semi-documentary research of the Kingston penal complex by way of an area author and historian lays naked in cool prose the quick descent from puritanical goal to basically punitive administration. For the 1st seventy five years, repression used to be authorised because the norm, even applauded, through the neighborhood voters, many of the inmates, and the political institution. over the past hundred years, repressive practices at Kingston Peneitentiary were publicized, analyzed, and more and more denounced. within the consequence, the large condo at Kingston has develop into virtually unmanageable. What to do with it? The query nonetheless hangs within the air.

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Extra info for Canada's Big House: The Dark History of the Kingston Penitentiary

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Smith, the warden's wife, gave him brandy. Chaplain Rogers brought in anti-Catholic books and pamphlets. " Some convicts were overfed, while many were hungry as a result of Frank Smith's favoritism. Hungry ones were seen eating from the pig troughs. One keeper testified that he regularly let his convicts eat from the pig pen in order to get more work from them. Complaints of hunger were more numerous in the summer when the meat was more likely to be bad. Sour, mouldy, and worm-infested bread was often served.

18 50 CANADA'S BIG HOUSE John Creighton, Warden, Kingston Penitentiary 1871-1885. Reproduction of the original is with the permission of the City of Kingston. Correctional Service of Canada Museum Collection. The Creighton era, which lasted until 1885, was marked by modest progress towards a more enlightened management. The new federal government took ownership in 1867 of all the penitentiaries in the Dominion. Therefore, the Provincial Penitentiary at Portsmouth was given a new name: the Kingston Penitentiary.

Macdonald at the request of Mr. Smith. The assistant warden testified that in the 1844 election a dozen keepers were sent by the warden to vote for his son Henry Smith Jr. in the riding of Frontenac. Macdonald, since graced with the title "Founding Father of Canada," lived in those days only a half-mile from the prison in an oriental-style villa called Bellevue, which offered a splendid view of the lake. He so strongly believed that Warden Smith was unjustly treated by the Brown Commission that, in 1849, he tried (and failed) to set up a committee of the legislature to inquire into the conduct of the commission.

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