Kingston Pen Tours opens for fifth season

Photo: Jessica Foley

Kingston Pen Tours will be officially reopening for its fifth season of guided tours on Thursday, Jul. 23, 2020, St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC) in partnership with Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) announced today, Thursday Jul. 16, 2020.

Since its launch in May 2016, over 300,000 guests have come through the doors of Kingston Pen Tours. This summer, guests will once again have the unique opportunity to safely go behind the walls of Kingston Penitentiary, Canada’s oldest maximum-security prison. This is a great opportunity to explore the grounds and learn about this National Historic Site which predates Canadian confederation. As the health, safety and well-being of guests is a top priority, appropriate safety measures have been put in place.

Photo: Jessica Foley


Two guided tour options will initially be offered with small group sizes. Both bring historic, architectural and criminological components together into a one-of-a-kind experience.

Standard Tours are 1.5 hours in length, with groups of up to 30 people. This tour visits various areas of the penitentiary including: a cell range, Indigenous Grounds and the Regional Treatment Centre’s Gymnasium featuring a mural dedicated to the inmates and staff of Kingston Penitentiary. Other areas include the main cell dome, the north gate, programs wing, former segregation/dissociation wing, shop dome, metal shop and recreational yard.

Extended Tours offer the enthusiast a smaller group size with up to 15 people and a longer more in-depth tour (2.5 hrs.) which includes all areas on the Standard Tour plus additional areas such as the Canvas and Upholstery shops, Laundry Room, main Gymnasium and Hospital of Kingston Penitentiary.

Kingstonist author Jessica Foley shares her experience taking a Kingston Pen Tour with her family on her blog: Kingston Pen Tours – Take the Kids!

Tickets go on sale on Thursday, July 16, 2020, and are available at To help promote a touchless ticketing experience, guests are highly encouraged to book their tickets online in advance for their preferred tour time.

“As we reopen SLPC Historic Sites, it is with great pleasure that we resume Kingston Pen Tours and safely welcome back guests as well as our dedicated staff. This modified tour season will continue to offer a unique experience and help contribute to Kingston’s vibrant economy.” – Hon. Bob Runciman, Chair.

“The Kingston Pen Tours have become a landmark attraction for residents and guests alike. We’re thrilled to see tours resume in a modified format to ensure everyone’s safety. This is a positive step towards economic recovery in Kingston.” – Mayor Paterson, City of Kingston.

Photo: Jessica Foley

“The Correctional Service of Canada is honoured to continue its partnership with the City of Kingston and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC) to provide our community with access to and use of Kingston Penitentiary. We look forward to working with the City, SLPC and our community to highlight the history of Canada’s oldest prison and our commitment to public safety, while also finding unique ways to support the needs of our community.” – Kevin Snedden, Regional Deputy Commissioner, Ontario.

What Guests Need to Know:

  • Face covering or masks are mandatory in indoor spaces and guests are encouraged to bring their own.
  • Guests are encouraged to bring their own personal protective equipment if they wish.
  • Signage onsite and other protocols will communicate best practices, so guests understand the required health and safety behaviours.
  • Guests are encouraged to book tickets online in advance and plan to arrive no earlier than 15 minutes prior to their booked tour time.

Quick Facts

  • Kingston Pen Tours have been made possible through a partnership between the City of Kingston, CSC and the SLPC since May 2016.
  • Kingston Pen Tours is a one-of-a-kind tourism asset and a trip motivator that adds a critical element to the appeal of Kingston’s tourism portfolio.
  • Tours have welcomed over 300,000 guests since 2016. The combined annual economic impact over this time is estimated to be $24.7 million for the region according to the Tourism Economic Impact Model. This model considers induced spending as a result of tourism activities and includes spending on such things as overnight accommodations, food and beverage, transportation, retail and entertainment.

About St. Lawrence Parks Commission

The St. Lawrence Parks Commission, an agency of the Government of Ontario, operates facilities stretching from Kingston to the Quebec border, including Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site); Kingston Pen Tours, Skywood Eco Adventure, Upper Canada Village, Crysler Park Marina, Upper Canada Golf Course, Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary and 14 campgrounds and beach day-use picnic areas including the Long Sault and 1000 Islands Parkway.

To learn more, visit

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