Research Services

The Friends of the Penitentiary Museum are pleased to offer the public an opportunity to obtain information regarding offenders and staff that served time, in one way or another, at most Canadian federal penal institutions since the founding of Kingston Penitentiary in 1835. Prison for Women Cell Block

In fact, our archive contains records dating back to c.1831. While no individual case or personnel files exist, the collection does include miscellaneous inmate and staff records, particularly for Kingston Penitentiary (K.P.) and Collin’s Bay Penitentiary (C.B.P.). K.P. Liberation interviews exist for the period between 1836 and 1881. Punishment registers of K.P. ranging from 1835 to 1908 can also reveal a great deal about the behaviour of inmates while incarcerated.

Other records such as Warden’s journals and letter books, as well as the minutes and memoranda of the Inspectors of Penitentiaries, shed light on life behind the walls of Kingston Penitentiary and Dorchester Penitentiary.

We can provide further research on the following subjects:

  • The museum’s collection of identification photos of offenders, for Kingston Penitentiary as early as 1923 and for Collin's Bay from the 1930s. (May be subject to ATIP restrictions.)
  • Details related to staff including their start and end dates of employment, rank, age, promotions, and religious faith for 1931 and earlier (with some short gaps) can be provided for most federal penitentiaries across Canada.
  • We can also provide general institutional histories for all Canadian federal penitentiaries, as well as information regarding more specific penitentiary operations, practices, customs, descriptions, etc.
  • Our archive includes thousands of photos from a wide range of federal penitentiaries in Canada dating back to the 19th century.

Please note that this is a fee-based service. Please contact the museum’s research service at 613-530-3122 or for more information.

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