Kingston Penitentiary: Explore Canada’s Historic Prison in Kingston

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


Main season

April 5 – September 29, 2024

Fall season

October 2 – 31, 2024


  • Express Tour $27.13
  • Standard Tour $42.13
  • Extended Tour $81.13

City of Kingston residents save $7.26.

Children 4 years and under are free.

Pricing includes all fees and HST.

Tours offered

Express Tour

This fully accessible 45 minute guided tour offers an introductory experience of Kingston Penitentiary. Guests will have the opportunity to visit many of the highlights of the institution, including the North Gate, a cell range, the canteen and social services area to hear about the 1971 riot, and more.

This tour contains subject matter designed for a mature audience – parental discretion is advised.

Standard Tour

Step inside the walls of Canada’s oldest penitentiary and explore the living and working areas, some dating back to the 1830s. Hear the personalized accounts from former staff and learn about the history and the daily routines, including stories of escapes, riots and everything in between on this 1.5-hour guided tour. Available in French as well.

This tour contains subject matter designed for a mature audience – parental discretion is advised. 

Extended Tour

This 2.5-hour tour covers the Standard Tour content as well as a more in-depth look behind the walls exploring the history of Kingston Penitentiary and Regional Treatment Centre. Discover more of the site and hear about the history of additional areas, such as the hospital, gymnasium, and school. With smaller group sizes the Extended Tour provides a greater opportunity to connect with retired corrections staff and tour guides.

This tour contains subject matter designed for a mature audience – parental discretion is advised.

Tour Accessibility

Accessible tour options for persons with vision loss and mobility needs are integrated into all tours. Wheelchairs are available for guests to use as needed. Companions accompanying a visitor with a disability will receive complimentary admission when their assistance is required. If guests have any unique needs, require an accompanying companion, or have any questions about accommodation, contact SLPC Guest Services at

Tours for People with Hearing Loss

A full tour script is available to visitors who have hearing loss. Please purchase tickets online and request the tour script upon arrival.

If you require a tour with ASL interpretation, please contact SLPC Guest Services at prior to purchasing tickets.

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, and pubs and nightlife.

Are you interested in the history of Kingston? Check out more museums in Kingston.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are the tours suitable for all age groups?
  • What provisions are there for people with disabilities?
  •  Are there any provisions for people with hearing loss?

To find solutions to commonly asked questions and discover additional details, visit the Kingston Pen Tour website.

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7 Things You Need to Know About Kingston Penitentiary

As historian J. A. Edmison wrote in his book The History of Kingston Penitentiary, “If [KP’s] walls could talk, we would indeed have stories of drama, of tragedy, of cruelty, of every vicissitude of human emotion.” Though Canada’s oldest and most notorious maximum-security prison closed in 2013, some of those stories have survived.

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Behind the Iron Bars, Exploring Kingston Penitentiary

Unlock the mystery, learn the history, and go behind the walls of the Kingston Pen. 

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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.

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Plan Your Trip to Kingston

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