Building the Prison for Women
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"I think it was the era at the time in terms of building prisons. There was, I think, a mindset that it was important that there be a great deal of control, that there be a great deal of structure."
Lori MacDonald, Deputy Warden, Prison for Women
(Citytv News, Toronto, May 3, 2000)
The Prison for Women was a long time in the making. Numerous reports over many years recommended a separate prison for women, but it wasn't until 1925 that construction finally began with the help of men's labour gangs from Kingston Penitentiary.
Construction of the Prison for Women started in 1925 with the help of men's labour gangs from Kingston Penitentiary. It was completed in 1933.
At the time, 27 women inmates occupied the Female Department of Kingston Penitentiary. By 1927, their number had grown to 40, exceeding their cell capacity and requiring some of the women to sleep in the corridors.
By 1929, the new prison had begun to take shape: the stonework for the cell block's main walls was finished and the roof framework was in place. Stonecutters at Kingston Penitentiary had begun cutting the stone for the Administration Building. In 1931, concrete was poured to form the floors in the recreation room, basement storeroom, galleries, corridors and the 108 cells. That same year, 1,620 square metres of copper roofing was installed on the cellblock, and construction of the boundary wall was started. In 1932, the Administration Building was finished.
The total cost of construction of the prison was approximately $374,000.
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