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KP’s Historical Designation

Kingston Penitentiary, historical designation, Kingston, OntarioAccording to poll results, local support for the closure of Kingston Pen is not strong, while a majority of respondents requested access to the cold, hard numbers the federal government used to justify the decision.  Kingston’s MP, Ted Hsu, took a serious look at the figures, while his investigation led to the conclusion that that Kingston’s correction institutions are high up on the list of the most economical in Canada.  In fact, KP was identified as:

the third cheapest to operate and maintain, per inmate…the second cheapest is Regional Treatment Centre.

Unfortunately this revelation has not deterred the slow march to the end of the line for Kingston Pen.  Separate but nevertheless related to efforts focused on saving Kingston Penitentiary, the Kingston Municipal Heritage Committee have called on the Historic Properties Research Working Group to determine whether or not KP is worthy of a heritage designation.  Accordingly, this week’s poll question asks:

Should Kingston Penitentiary be protected by a heritage designation?

  • Absolutely. (82%, 163 Votes)
  • No way. (17%, 33 Votes)
  • Something else entirely. (2%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 200

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Kingston Penitentiary is already designated a national historic site, but according to the letter of the law, this is not enough to protect one of the oldest prisons in the world from demolition should the federal government decide to sell it.  Conversely, a heritage designation at the provincial or municipal level could protect the site and deter future owners from building new structures such as condos, casinos, future faculties of Queen’s University and so on.  Bill Glover, Councillor for Sydenham ward has stated that a heritage designation would not necessarily be issued for an eternity, nor would it cover the entire grounds of Kingston Pen.  Rather, the heritage designation would simply give the City of Kingston control over the fate of KP and allow a certain level of protection.

What are your thoughts on granting Kingston Penitentiary a heritage designation.  Would you rather preserve this landmark, or bulldoze it and make way for the future?  Drop off your comments below.

Thanks to L*Ali and Grant MacDonald for the photos used above.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

4 thoughts on “KP’s Historical Designation

  • October 1, 2012 at 10:22 am
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    Every time we drive by, my kids talk about how it would make a neat museum. We'd put in slides and science exhibits, and exorcise those ghosts of the past with the learning and laughter of children.

  • October 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm
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    In theory it would be great if we could promote KP as a historic site and as a prison museum and tourist attraction. A primary concern that we would have to consider, however, is maintenance and the associated costs with keeping the structure in a state of reasonable repair. I am reminded of the train station on Montreal Street, which is an eyesore and has been for some time. If we prohibit significant alterations or development, then we definitely need a credible plan to maintain it without it being a burden on the taxpayers.

  • October 10, 2012 at 2:16 am
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    Why not keep certain eye pleasing and historic architectural elements of the grounds, while bulldozing the less glamorous parts to make way for condos, business, ANYTHING productive really? It is prime real estate, in the fairly quiet portsmouth village. In the summer it can get pretty busy with the harbour next door, so think of the boutique shops we could attract with a nice new facade seamslessly built into some preserved Canadian history?

  • October 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm
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    Kingston Penetentiary is one of the first things that come to mind when one mentions they're from Kingston to someone who isn't.

    -I think it would be an enormous missed opportunity if at least an attempt wasn't made to make it a Museum/National historic site… We need more attractions in this town!

    I understand the efforts and startup costs associated, but how many people have driven past and been so curious about what's behond those gates?! … I bet it would outperform the attendance of Fort Henry two fold or more….and, um definitely outperform the Krock Centre :)

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