APRIL 27, 1920 – C.1932

Capt. John Charles Ponsford

Captain Ponsford joined the Canadian Penitentiary Service as Warden of Manitoba Penitentiary, Stony Mountain, on March 4, 1913. On April 1, 1914 he became Warden of the Alberta Penitentiary, in Edmonton, and closed that facility in 1920. On April 27, 1920 he was appointed Warden of Kingston Penitentiary.

The situation was extremely serious at Kingston Penitentiary, with escapes, mutinies and corrupt officers facing his new administration. Ponsford was successful in meeting these challenges and imposed a rigorous disciplinary regime.

During his occupation of Cedarhedge, Warden Ponsford made many changes to the building, He added the second-floor bay window on the main façade in order to see who was approaching the house from the driveway at the south-east corner of the property. There was also a lengthy debate about his wish to install bathrooms in the house. Headquarters felt the need to remind him that this was a government residence and not a “millionaire’s” mansion!

The Ponsford’s were quite active in the local social scene. In October of 1922 Mrs. Ponsford entertained the Anglican Girls Club of Queen’s University at Cedarhedge. The Oct.25, 1922 issue of the Kingston Standard reported that “…Hallowe’en favours, yellow candles and ferns formed the decorations in the drawing room and were used in the tea room. The Dean of Ontario and the Rev. W.E. Kidd were present at the tea hour to welcome the College girls to the Anglican Club.”

During the last years of his administration, Kingston Penitentiary became overcrowded and prisoner unrest grew. Warden Ponsford was on retiring leave from January until March 31, 1932, and left Cedarhedge in February. No permanent replacement was appointed when the first major riot in the history of Kingston Penitentiary took place in October 1932.

Capt. Ponsford passed away June 8, 1946.