The last thing mom wants to hear after a night out in the Byward Market is that you ended up in jail. But, in Ottawa, you can actually go to jail without even committing a crime in the city's one-of-a-kind jail hostel.
This former maximum security prison housed the city's most notorious criminals for over a hundred years. The Carleton County Gaol, as it was formerly called, had not only some of the harshest conditions in the country for a prison but was also a place where many criminals were put to death.
Hostel inmates can still wander around Death Row and the gallows that still remain intact today. There are a few unmarked graves in the courtyard of the hostel, but there's no exact number saying just how many criminals died in the prison. It's just one of the many mysteries of the most haunted place in the city.
Hostel guests have been reported seeing a ghost clutching a Bible at the end of their bed. One of the most famous ghosts reportedly seen by hostel guests is Patrick J. Whelan, who was hung in 1869 for the assassination of Canadian Confederation Father Thomas D'Arcy McGee. The hostel rooms even once had their original locks, but staff had to remove them because they were locking themselves.
The conditions in the prison were so inhumane that it was shut down completely in 1972. Shortly after, a group of creative geniuses from the Canadian Youth Hostel Association decided to renovate the jail into what it would eventually become today: a haunted hostel with wifi and free breakfast. A step up.
The budget Hi-Ottawa Jail Hostel is just right across the street from Rideau Centre and only walking distance from the ByWard Market.
And, hey, saying that you spent your trip to Ottawa in jail is a story itself.