Test Your Knowledge

Now that you've had a chance to explore Canada's correctional history, let's see what made an impression! Take our short quiz and test your knowledge.

1. When did the first six inmates arrive at Kingston Penitentiary?

June 1, 1835

Toward the end of the 18th century, new ideas about corrections began to take shape. One of the most important was the concept of penitentiary houses: places where convicts could be kept away from other members of society, but where they could have a chance to think about their actions and—hopefully—reform their behaviour. The "Provincial Penitentiary of Upper Canada" at Kingston, Ontario was Canada's first institution of this kind, taking its first six inmates on June 1, 1835.

Find out more about this subject at Pre-1920: From punishment to penance.

2. In its early years, the Kingston Penitentiary was something of a tourist attraction. What famous person described it as "well and wisely governed"?

Charles Dickens

Toward the end of the 18th century, new ideas about corrections began to take shape. One of the most important was the concept of penitentiary houses: places where convicts could be kept away from other members of society, but where they could have a chance to think about their actions and—hopefully—reform their behaviour. The "Provincial Penitentiary of Upper Canada" at Kingston, Ontario was Canada's first institution of this kind, taking its first six inmates on June 1, 1835.

Find out more about this subject at Pre-1920: From punishment to penance.

3. Name one of the volunteer societies that formed in the 1930s to help Canadian offenders.

The John Howard Society
The Elizabeth Fry Society

In addition to the efforts of groups like the Salvation Army (which had been operating in Canadian prisons since 1882), a new organization emerged to help rehabilitate and reintegrate convicts: the John Howard Society, founded by Reverend J. Dinnage Hobden and named after the famous British prison reformer of the 19th century. Its creation was followed in 1939 by the first Canadian branch of the Elizabeth Fry Society for women inmates, named for another British prison reformer and advocate of inmates' rights.

Find out more about this subject at 1920-1939: Through Adversity.

4. In the 1930s, a Commission studied Canada's corrections system and suggested many changes. What was its name?

The Archambault Commission

Toward the end of the 1930s came further calls for prison reform. In 1936, a Royal Commission was struck to examine the penitentiary system in a comprehensive way. Its report, the Archambault Report, was released in 1938. Its many recommendations contributed to the creation of a revised Penitentiary Act. But events on the world stage would postpone those changes from being acted on for many years.

Find out more about this subject at 1920-1939: Through Adversity.

5. In what era did Canada's corrections officers begin to receive formal training?

1940 - 1959

After the war, the effort to change Canada's prisons resumed. As the country's first Prison Commissioner, Major-General R.B Gibson instituted more than 100 of the Archambault Report's recommendations. New penitentiaries were built, including separate facilities for young adult male offenders, and formal training of penitentiary officers became the norm.

Find out more about this subject at 1940–1959: Times of Change.

6. When was the National Parole Board established?

1959

The Archambault report's criticisms of past and present approaches to corrections were supported by a new report in 1956: the Fauteux Report. A key recommendation of the report was to create a national board of parole—one whose reach would extend to all federal offenders. The notion was put into action almost at once. A new Parole Act was passed in 1959, and the National Parole Board was created.

Find out more about this subject at 1940–1959: Times of Change.

7. Where did Canada's first gradual release program get started?

Collins Bay, Ontario

In the 1960s, new approaches to rehabilitation and reintegration were adopted to ease prisoners back into society. At Collins Bay near Kingston, a first ever gradual release program allowed inmates to work outside the prison and return to the facility in the evening. In 1969, an experimental living unit was opened at a medium-security institution in Springhill, Nova Scotia as part of a pilot community program to help prepare inmates for life "outside".

Find out more about this subject at 1960–1979: An era of innovation.

8. When did Canada get rid of the death penalty?

1976

The abolition of the death penalty in 1976 marked a significant development in the advancement of human rights—the right to life as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Find out more about this subject at 1960–1979: An era of innovation.

9. What was a major health concern in Canada's prisons during the 1980s?

HIV/AIDS
Hepatitis-C
Tuberculosis

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s health issues in the correctional system became a major area of focus and concern in Canada. The number of cases of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis-C virus (HCV) in federal and provincial prisons continued to increase throughout the 1990s. In federal prisons, reported cases of HIV/AIDS rose from 14 in January 1989 to 159 in March 1996-and to a startling 217 in December 2000. In 1998 one in every five offenders entering federal prisons was reported to be infected with Tuberculosis-a statistic that was considerably higher than the general population.

Find out more about this subject at 1980–1999: New perspectives, new demands.

10. What are Okimaw Ohci and Pê Sâkâstêw?

Healing lodges for Aboriginal offenders

Recognition of Aboriginal practices for dealing with crime and punishment, including reparation and healing, gained heightened awareness. As a result, two Healing Lodges were created to address the unique correctional needs of Canada's Aboriginal Peoples. The first facility, Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, opened its doors to federally sentenced Aboriginal women in 1995. In 1996-1997 Pê Sâkâstêw in Hobbema, Alberta, was built to house Aboriginal men.

Find out more about this subject at 1980–1999: New perspectives, new demands.

11. What department today is responsible for the Correctional Service of Canada?

Public Safety Canada

Two years following the tragedy of September 11th, the Public Safety Canada came into existence, replacing the Solicitor General Department. Dedicated to securing the public's safety and security, the PS seeks to minimize risks to Canadians—everything from personal safety from crime or natural disasters to national security from terrorist threats.

Find out more about this subject at 2000–Present: Taking Action.

12. What is it called when victims, offenders and communities come together to deal with the effects of crime?

Restorative Justice

In 2003 the Restorative Justice Program began, ushering in a new approach to criminal rehabilitation. Restorative justice puts the emphasis on the wrong done to a person as well as on the wrong done to the community. It recognizes that crime is both a violation of relationships between specific people and an offence against the community. Programs involve the voluntary participation of the victim of the crime and the offender and ideally members of the community, in discussions. The goal is to "restore" the relationship, fix the damage that has been done and prevent further crimes from occurring. Today there are various models or practices of restorative justice being practiced and adapted throughout the country.

Find out more about this subject at 2000–Present: Taking Action.