From 5675 Dennis Apedaile:

In the 1870’s the Kingston Penitentiary (opened in the 1830s) was ramping up a wish to become entrepreneurial and refund some of its operational costs to the federal government and keep inmates gainfully employed. By 1876, they were really hustling for government contracts.

The Pen managed to do work for the Militia, for construction of the CPR, The Custom’s House, Fort Henry and – surprisingly – to make barred doors and locks for the new St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary in Laval, Quebec.

Another contract was for “cut stone, furniture and other furnishings” for the brand new military college across the Bay. Today’s Cadets living in the Stone Frigate may still be sitting on chairs made in the Kingston Pen 145 years ago.

More recently, In 1962, the RMC Glee Club had a gig in the Kingston Women’s Penitentiary. It was a fine evening of music and about 45 minutes of fraternizing with the inmates after the show. Particular interest was shown to a couple of inmates who were getting out in a few weeks. One who was not yet due to walk out the front door, went over the wall about two weeks after the visit, breaking her ankle. It was not clear whether she did it for love.

And from 5609 David Stocks:

I was with Dennis in the Glee Club that visited the Kingston Women’s Pen in 1962.  The fraternizing time that Dennis referred to was a bit tense.  Several steely-eyed guards were in plain sight.  One of the inmates told me that any mis-behaviour, including as much as “one little dance step,” would be punished.

That experience has made me much more sympathetic toward inmates – male and female.  Most of the women were in for prostitution, which does not seem to be a crime if done willingly.  Most of the men were in for trivial possession of marijuana.  As someone said: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

In the early ’60s, the Pen took a contract to refinish some of the gorgeous dining room tables of the Signals School Officers’ Mess.  On at least one of the tables, when the top was re-fastened to the base, the screws protruded up through the top surface.  Yuk!


  1. Jim Cadieux - 5718 on January 12, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    I was there also. Nice piece Dennis !

  2. Bob Kompf on January 12, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    Nice to recall co-operation between Kingston’s two Federal Institutions that issued serial numbers to the Inmates.

  3. Bob de Leeuw - 5731 on January 12, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    I was there also. Well written Dennis.

  4. Doug Ross on January 12, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    Good (but a bit tense) fun. I was there as well.

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