Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services :: An Historical Perspective

Correctional Services

Modernizing the System

An Historical Perspective

Many of Ontario's jails that are still in use were built before Confederation.

  • Cornwall Jail was built in 1834 and the Brockville Jail opened in 1842.
  • When Chatham Jail was being built (it opened in 1849), Alexander Mackenzie, destined to become Canada's second prime minister, worked at the jail as an apprentice stone mason.
  • Brantford Jail opened in 1852, five years before Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the site for Canada's capital city over Québec City, Montréal, Toronto and Kingston.
  • When Lindsay Jail opened in 1863, the American Civil War was happening.
  • Pembroke Jail opened in 1867, the year of Confederation.

These are just a few of Ontario's oldest jails that are still in operation.

While the structures of many of these old buildings may be picturesque, the reality is that they were built long before safety and construction standards were standardized into present-day building codes.

Correctional standards have also changed dramatically since pre-Confederation.

Ontario's oldest facilities have failed to keep pace with these changes and cannot be altered easily to meet modern standards.

That is why Ontario is transforming its current system of institutions into a modern correctional system that is safe, secure, efficient, effective and accountable. All new facilities and retrofits will incorporate advanced technologies and ultra-modern features designed to enhance public safety and to provide safer working environments for staff.

Initiated in 1996, the Infrastructure Renewal Project involves expanding, retrofitting and building new correctional facilities and decommissioning older facilities.