Kingston Pen Tours

The Kingston Penitentiary offers a unique opportunity to explore behind the fortified walls and go behind the cell doors of the most notorious prison in Canada. The 90-minute walking tour takes you through the grounds of the infamous maximum-security prison. Kingston Pen housed a substantial number of high profile Canadian inmates and now is your chance to experience this part of national history.

The tour is lead by summer students who have been working hard for weeks learning about the history of Kingston Pen and its intriguing stories. The tour covers the private family visiting area, cellblocks where the inmates slept, highly secure private cellblocks, the shop dome where inmates worked, and recreational grounds.

Main Dome

Enter the Main Dome, the central hub of activity where inmates would have to pass through to get to any place within the building. The building is architecturally constructed as a centrally planned cruciform, signifying closeness to the divine and emphasizing spiritual healing. Stand in the Main Dome and look up at the industrial design of the spiraling stairs and circular floors.

Pictures from when the penitentiary was still open line the walls, helping you imagine what the Main Dome looked like when people still inhabited the cells.

Mailboxes – inmates would send messages to reach various departments in the Penitentiary (psychologist, Chaplain, Native liaison etc.)

Keep an eye out for graffiti drawn on the walls by inmates!

Inmate cell – staged to appear as if someone was living there

Kingston Pen Tours have hired former wardens and CSC (Correctional Services Canada) employees and placed them at certain points throughout the tour. These spots highlight significant places inside the prison and provide an opportunity for the former employees to share personal stories that are within the realm of their script. Confidentiality is important under these circumstances and the tour guides do an exceptional job of respecting people’s privacy while keeping the history rich with exciting anecdotes.

Shop Dome interior – includes various shops where inmates would work

Former CSC employees are excited to see this historical monument transform into an attraction and contribute positively to Kingston’s economic prosperity and cultural community. Thousands of people from Kingston and far beyond are incredibly eager about this opportunity and the tour does not disappoint!

Metal Shop
Carpenter Shop

Make sure to listen for the stories about famous escapes from Kingston Pen! The inmates were incredibly resourceful in their planned escapes and the last one occurred in 1999.

Shop Dome exterior

The transformation of Kingston Pen into a national attraction is a wonderful continuation of its story in Kingston’s history. Further insight into Canada’s penitentiary history can be found at the Penitentiary Museum located just across the road from the Pen. The Penitentiary Museum illustrates the Canadian penitentiary environment beyond crime and punishment by emphasizing art and educational programs set in place for inmate rehabilitation.

The Kingston Pen Tour is like nothing you have ever seen before and truly an experience you will never forget. From the penitentiary’s historical significance and unforgettable past to a current tourist landmark, this site is a must see for everyone. Do your time today and book tickets online at!

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Check out the Penitentiary Museum!



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