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Kingston Penitentiary Tours

Kingston Penitentiary, KP Tours, Kingston, OntarioSince its closure in 2013, questions have been raised about the future of The Kingston Pen. Should it be torn down? Turned into condominiums, a museum or even a world-class sailing centre? In 2014 it opened its doors for five weeks, offering tours to the public and raising $300,000 for Habitat for Humanity and The United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. Tours of the Pen were the hottest ticket in town, selling out in minutes and even being resold on sites like Kijiji for more than triple their value. Thousands of visitors came from all over the country and The United States to see the infamous maximum-security prison.

Last Friday, government and tourism officials announced that KP will open its doors once again for tours running from mid-June to October 29th 2016.  The tours will be organized and run by Fort Henry staff from the St. Lawrence Parks Commission and will create 30 new summer student jobs. This experiment, which Mayor Paterson refers to as a “visioning exercise” will give the city a sense of where to go next with the prison property and the neighbouring Portsmouth Harbour. The project is expected to bring in at least $6 million in tourism dollars over the four month span and a large portion of that will be donated to local youth initiatives through The United Way KFL&A.

The building, which was designated a National Historic Site in 1990, has incredible potential both financially and historically. Considering that, this week we want to know:

Should The Kingston Penitentiary be permanently open for tours?

  • Absolutely. (81%, 812 Votes)
  • Only for the summer season. (17%, 175 Votes)
  • Definitely not. (2%, 19 Votes)
  • Not sure. (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,007

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While past experience has shown that tourists are interested in visiting the “Alacatraz of the North”, seeing the inside of those walls is something that many Kingstonians are interested in too. Opening the doors will give us an opportunity to learn more about our city’s history and to understand the conditions in which people lived and worked. So, what do you think? How did you vote and why? What is it that fascinates us so much with seeing the inside of places like The Kingston Pen? How likely are you to visit? Drop off your comments below.

Thanks to Aidan Wakely-Mulroney for today’s photo.

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Danielle Lennon

Danielle Lennon is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. She was the Editor, Community Event Coordinator and Contributor at-large (2008-2018). She is otherwise employed as a section violinist with the Kingston Symphony, violin teacher, studio musician and cat lover. Learn more about Danielle...

5 thoughts on “Kingston Penitentiary Tours

  • May 16, 2016 at 4:10 pm
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    It’s very important for people to see what it’s like inside. Just by showing this to kids, they may think again about doing crime. The history alone, it’s worth it.

    There’s nothing about how to buy tickets for a tour anywhere on line.

  • May 18, 2016 at 8:10 am
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    The more visitors we attract to Kingston the higher the financial rewards are for the City. The greater the number of reasons are to come and visit, the higher the probability is the they will come, stay and stay longer, all building on the attraction and subsequent revenues.

  • May 18, 2016 at 10:53 am
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    So does it have to be an all or nothing proposition? Why not keep the façade and the centre block and one range as a historical site and open for tours and do something with the rest of the property? I mean, one cell block is probably much like the rest, right?

  • May 19, 2016 at 8:45 pm
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    Absolutely, have tours and maybe eventually a cafe or restaurant somewhere within it’s midst. Like old fort Henry.. people will always have a fascination with old prisons . I know I can’t wait to go on a tour!!!

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