The former Prison for Women is a landmark in Kingston and an important intact example of early 20th century penitentiary design. Following the prison’s closure, the property was declared surplus by Corrections Canada and Canada Lands Corporation was given the mandate to dispose of it.
The planning process for this task involved detailed public consultation and a site development plan designed to meet community needs as well as maximize real estate value. Carl Bray prepared a chronology of site development, an inventory and evaluation of cultural heritage resources, and helped facilitate the public consultation process. Discussion of a wide range of responses to the existing buildings led to consensus on the preferred uses for the site, which included the institutional uses planned by its ultimate purchaser, Queen’s University.
Key to the success of the project was the widespread recognition of the need to retain the core buildings as a testament to both the effects of incarceration and to the ability of a former prison to be repurposed for more positive, public use.