When I spoke to the people at the Penetentiary, they said that although kids are able to go on the tour, the groups are big and you want to be able to hear the tour guide. Since we were in Kingston with my parents, we decided to offset our tours so that we didn't have to take the kids with us.
Basically, the tour was amazing, and much better than expected. I would highly recommend it.
|In the recreation yard|
We had a tour guide who took us through the prison. However along the way we stopped and spoke with 6 different retired prison employees. There were a few guards, an ex-warden and a lady who I don't actually know what she did! This aspect of the tour was amazing because you knew you were hearing from the people who really knew. They were able to explain that area and tell us what that part of the prison was actually like.
While on the tour we saw things like the visitation rooms, the outside of the family visit houses, the main dome, a cell block, the short term segregation area, the shop, the yard and the gym in the Regional Treatment Centre. We saw the long term segregation area from the outside of the cell block as well, but didn't go into it. This is where a lot of the high profile criminals that you may of heard of were held.
|The shower in Short term segregation - not much privacy|
|Family/conjugal visit houses|
The tour guide and former guards aren't able to actually discuss any prisoners who are still alive, so if that's all you are interested in then this isn't for you! They did tell us a few stories about escapes and such from prisoners who have died. So when we saw long term seg they didn't tell us who had stayed there, but most people are aware that people like Paul Bernardo and Russell Williams have been in long term segregation.
In the short term segregation wing, an ex-warden spoke to us and he was by far the most interesting I found. This was probably just because he really knew his stuff.
In the dome, the guard talked about the 1971 riot which was also really interesting.
|The main dome|
|Divided visitation room|
I don't want to give it all away in case you plan on doing the tour. I'm not sure how long they will be doing tours for as it seems that they have some plans for what to do with the penetentiary, so if you want to do it then I would try to do it as soon as possible! If you can make a trip to Kingston there is actually so much interesting stuff to do there and it's totally worth the trip!
|The Shop Dome|
|Inside the main gate|
|A cell block|