Historic and Notorious Kingston Penitentiary

The Kingston Penitentiary has always been notorious in Canada. A maximum security prison, the “Kingston Pen” has housed some of Canada’s worst criminals over its 178 years. The Kingston Pen was originally constructed in 1833-1834, opening its doors on June 1st 1835. Although largely closed to the public throughout its history, Charles Dickens once visited. Ernest Hemmingway visited too. And now you can too. 

This is a unique opportunity to take a guided tour and learn about what is now a National Historic Site. Below, we’ve compiled some articles and tour information for you.

There’s more to Kingston than Canada’s oldest prison. After your Kingston Penitentiary tour, experience Kingston’s vibrant culture. Try our local wines and craft brews, restaurants and eateries, pubs and nightlife. Since Kingston Penitentiary tours are only open from May to September, the weather is perfect to enjoy one of Canada’s favourite pastimes—a drink on the patio.

7 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Kingston Pen

Before your tour, why not read up on some of the oft-unknown fun facts about the Kingston Pen? Unlikely guests, author inspiration, a break in and more.

Behind the Iron Bars, Exploring Kingston Penitentiary

Unlock the mystery, learn the history, and go behind the walls of the Kingston Pen with one of these Kingston Penitentiary tours and packages.


Canada’s Penitentiary Museum

While touring the Kingston Penitentiary, make sure you stop by the award-winning Penitentiary Museum (housed within the former Warden’s residence) and learn about the history of Canada’s federal penitentiaries.

Plan Your Trip to Kingston

Make your stay even easier by knowing how to get to—and around—Kingston. Find interactive maps, public transit information, the Visitor Information Centre, international travellers’ passport requirements and more. Start planning your stay in Kingston.

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