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Inside a former jail cell. Right: View on tour of the Kingston Penitentiary.

Inside a former jail cell. Right: View on tour of the Kingston Penitentiary.

You can step back in time behind the jail cell bars of Canada's oldest maximum-security prison and see what a day in the life would look like.

On May 21, the Kingston Penitentiary will be reopening for its first full season in three years, and tickets for their four tours for May and June are available to buy now.

The Standard Tour comes with personal accounts from former jail staff and you'll learn everything from the inmates' daily routine to stories of escapes and riots.

The penitentiary opened in 1835 and by 1867 it was the leading maximum security prison of its kind in Canada. It was still in operation until 2013, so some of that history you pick up on during the tour is in the not-so-distant past.

Two new tours were just introduced last year if you want to learn some unique facts about the penitentiary.

The Architectural Tour focuses on the history of the building and its architectural significance, so you can discover why it was designed the way we see it. It has a distinct arched front gate and cross-shaped cell block that is now seen in other prisons across Canada. You will get to check out the Dining Hall and West Tower, which are not included on the Standard Tour.

On the Film Tour, you will be able to see the admission and discharge areas where inmates came and left at the beginning and end of their sentence. If you've ever seen the show Murdoch Mysteries, some spots may look familiar. The Netflix show Titans was also filmed at the penitentiary, and more recently a new series called Mayor of Kingstown, where the town is loosely based on the city of Kingston.

The Standard, Film and Architectural tours are $40 each, per person, and last an hour-and-a-half. The Extended Tour is $80 and takes you on a two-and-a-half-hour journey, with smaller group sizes and more areas to explore than the Standard Tour.

Kingston Pen Tours

Price: $40+ per tour

Address: 560 King St. W., Kingston, ON

Why You Need To Go: You can walk the steps of former inmates and prison guards in Canada's oldest maximum-security prison. There are new tours to dive into all of the histories within the penitentiary walls.


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