Friends of the Penitentiary Museum

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About the FPM

Friends of the Penitentiary Museum

The "Friends of the Penitentiary Museum Inc." (FPM) was formed in the late 1990s. Its job: to assist with the development and operation of the only museum in Canada dedicated solely to the presentation and interpretation of the history of Canada's federal penitentiaries. The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) realized that the museum, originally established at the Correctional Staff College (Ontario) in 1967, provided a very positive link with the community at the local as well as national and international levels. To ensure the museum's continuing operation in a climate of tightening budgets, something had to be done.

In the Beginning…

Diana Theman, Barry Kaplan and Sheelah McNeill were enlisted to work with museum curator, Dave St. Onge. The goal: to develop a sound business plan for the successful operation of the museum. On their recommendation that a Volunteer "Friends Organization" should be established, a "Museum Steering Committee" was struck. Chaired by Monty Bourke, then Warden of Warkworth Institution, the committee consisted of members from the local community as well as active employees of the Correctional Service. Common to all participants was a shared interest in preserving and learning about this fascinating aspect of Canadian history.

The first FPM Board

On March 10th 2000, the first elected Board of the FPM at Kingston Inc. became active. The founding board consisted of President Winston McLellan, Vice President Donna Morrin, Secretary Barry Kaplan, Treasurer Bill Patterson and Directors Monty Bourke, Connie Cookman and Marc Shaw. Since 2000, many people have undertaken a great deal of hard work on behalf of the FPM and the museum.


Visitation to the museum has increased annually, exceeding 30,000 people per year. In 2002, the museum received the "Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Tourism". In 2003, it was one of only 27 sites in North America to receive the Rand-McNally Road Atlas "Best of the Road" Award. These achievements were due in large part to the assistance of the FPM and our volunteers. In 2012, 2014 and 2015 the museum received a Tripadvisor "Certificate of Excellence" based upon a visitor satisfaction feedback rating of 4.5 out of 5! In 2003 a "Licensing Agreement" between CSC and the FPM was signed. Co-signers were the Solicitor General of Canada, the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, and the President of the FPM. The Agreement permits the FPM to carry out its mandate of supporting the museum through fund-raising and volunteer recruitment at the museum's home location "Cedarhedge", the former warden's residence of Canada's first penitentiary.