Inmate Orchestras

Kingston Penitentiary, KP, inmate orchestra
(George Lilley fonds, V025.5 30-262.20-1of5, Queen's University Archives)

In 1950, as part of a widespread initiative to introduce recreation programs throughout the Canadian Penitentiary Service, inmate orchestras were created. By 1952, the small ensemble at Kingston Penitentiary had demonstrated sufficient musical talent and professionalism through their performances for their fellow inmates, that arrangements were made with Kingston radio station CKWS to air a series of live broadcasts to the community at large. Each of the shows were entirely written, produced and performed by members of the inmate population with technical support provided by the staff at CKWS. This photo was taken by George Lilley in May of 1952, within the prison Chapel, where all of the broadcasts were recorded. A recording of two complete episodes from the first season (1952), as they would have been heard on the radio, is available for purchase from the Penitentiary Museum or at the Tourism Information Office in Confederation Basin.

Queen's Archives

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