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Haunted Prison - Haunted Canadian Jails Cornwall, Ontario

by Ilse (Admin)

I recently took a tour of an old haunted prison. Cornwall, Ontario is the home of one the oldest haunted Canadian jails. It is known as an historical site, as it is one of the oldest buildings in Ontario, but rumors of restless spirits get as much attention as does the history of this place.

It was built in 1833 and was still in use on November 18th, 2002 when it was finally shut down. Although there have been renovations done, a lot of the primary structure still remains as it was when it was first built which can give you a real feel for how things may have been so long ago.

When it first came into use it housed, obviously, criminals, but murderers as well as debtors were all in the same sections. Because facilities were scarce at that time the criminally insane were also kept there and were not separated from other criminals in any way. That alone caused many problems but to complicate matters further, male and female inmates, as well as juveniles, were all thrown together which made the stay there precarious at best.

Living conditions in the prison were less than favorable and many of the inmates became ill and died well before their terms were up. When someone died a few inmates were chosen for the task of burying the body in the courtyard with little or no ceremony. The graves were never marked or kept separate in any way from the rest of the courtyard.

It is not known just how many bodies were buried in unmarked graves as records weren't routinely kept. When renovations were done many years later, 10 bodies were found and removed and given a proper burial.

Executions and Deaths

Executions by hanging were carried out across Canada with Cornwall Jail the site of six hangings. Peter Balcombe, 24 years old, was the last hanging at the jail on May 25, 1954 - he was found guilty of murder.

Cornwall Jail

There is a gallows on display in the exercise yard, however, that is not where the original gallows and hangings took place. The original site of the hangings is in a different section which would have been a part of the original courtyard.

Illness and executions were not the only deaths to occur in the prison. The jail's brutal history includes two suicides that took place in the jail's later years.

One suicide took place in the holding cell downstairs while the prisoner waited for a cell to become available. Although all belts and shoelaces etc were removed from the prisoner he still managed to hang himself from the bars. The cell was then equipped with Plexiglas to keep it from ever happening again.

The second suicide took place upstairs in the general holding area sometime during the night. With the conditions as crowded as they were at the time it is unseemly that someone wouldn't have noticed what was happening.

Secret Dungeons

A section that is not mentioned very often, and does not have any access, unfortunately, is the dungeon under the jail. There is not a lot of information on the dungeon though it is believed that prisoners that were particularly rowdy were kept there as punishment.

Is It Haunted?

There are a lot of stories that come out of the Cornwall Jail and most will make your hair stand up on end. Some stories are passed down over the years and some are experiences that folks including the tour guides have had. It is most definitely an unsettled location.

There are two tours that you can take at this haunted Canadian jail one is the paranormal tour and the guides will be most pleased to relate a lot of stories. Some that are passed down through the jail's history and others that they have experienced themselves.

The other tour, and the one we took, is the historic tour and gives a great deal of insight into why this is a noted haunted prison. If the history of a place holds interest for you and you enjoy listening to some great stories I highly recommend either one.

For info on taking a tour: Haunted Cornwall Jail

Comments for
Haunted Prison - Haunted Canadian Jails Cornwall, Ontario

by: Anonymous

That was cool, I wanna go there

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