Kingston Penitentiary Tours

Tours of Kingston Penitentiary are offered through the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, NOT through Canada's Penitentiary Museum.

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Gate badge rank insignia

Gate badge rank insignia

This patch is one of the more interesting pieces of insignia used in the federal penitentiary service in Canada.  The royal blue rectangular crest depicts a Gothic-style double-gate with bars in the upper portion of the arch, surrounded by a brick wall with loop holes to either side of the gate.  The device was used to designate the rank of the wearer.  The details are rendered in very light grey, or white, thread. 

Based upon archival evidence, this crest was part of the redesign of federal penitentiary insignia that took place in 1933.  For a time prior to that date, the penitentiary service employed the exact same insignia devices as the military in order to designate rank (i.e. Various combinations of metal "pips", or stars, and crowns on epaulettes and collars.)  Due to complaints received from military authorities claiming that the similarities were causing confusion, Minister of Justice Hugh Guthrie authorized a completely new system of insignia for penitentiaries.

Over the thirty years of its use, its significance evolved.  Initially the "Gate" insignia was intended to identify "Senior Keepers and Keepers", depending upon which portion of the sleeve it was worn.  When worn between the elbow and cuff, it signified a "Senior Keeper" while "Keepers" were to wear it between the elbow and shoulder.  It was to be worn on both sleeves of tunics and overcoats. According to circular 139/1934 - effective Sept. 1, 1934 both Senior Keepers and Keepers were to wear it below the elbow, while the new ranks of "Senior Warders" and "Warders" were to wear it above the elbow. The new rank of "Warder" was to be junior to "Keepers" but senior to "Guards".  An important distinction is that when issued to the one "Senior (or Chief) Keeper" and "Senior Warder" it was mounted on a red flannel backing creating a 5mm border.  .

On May 14, 1947 an Order-In-Council was passed creating the position of "Guard Grade 2".  This rank was intended as an avenue of promotion for those who demonstrated an aptitude for correctional work.  In other words, it was to distinguish those with a true interest in improving their efficiency from the general group of custodial staff.  Beginning in 1958, the gate device was used to designate "Guards Grade 2" when worn on both sleeves between the elbow and shoulder.  It was discontinued when the khaki green uniform was changed to a civilian style blue uniform in 1963-64.

Item
Gate badge rank insignia
Dimensions
4.7cm x 6cm
Material
Worsted; Cotton
Period Made
1933 -1963
Period of Use
1933-1963
Maker
unknown