Originally constructed in 1833–1834, and officially opened on June 1, 1835 as the “Provincial Penitentiary of the Province of Upper Canada,” it is one of the oldest prisons in continuous use in the world. Kingston Penitentiary is one of nine prisons in the Kingston area which range from low-security facilities to the maximum-security facilities Kingston Penitentiary and Millhaven Institution (which was initially built to replace Kingston Pen).
The institution was built on land, described as “Lot number twenty, in the first concession of the Township of Kingston” The site was chosen for “combining the advantages of perfect salubrity, ready access to the water, and abundant quantities of fine limestone. Six inmates were accepted when the penitentiary was opened.
On August 15, 1954, a two-hour riot broke out in the penitentiary—the worst in its history up to that point—involving 900 inmates. During the riot a breakout was attempted, but was foiled by the guards at the gate. The trouble apparently began during a morning baseball game in the exercise yard, when a guard was attacked, followed by several inmates setting fire to various buildings in the yard, including the shops and a warehouse, causing an estimated $2 million in damages. The disturbance was quelled by the guards aided by 160 Canadian Army troops and a squad of Royal Canadian Mounted Police RCMP officers. The 50 ringleaders were placed in solitary confinement
The Davis Tannery
In Ontario, the Davis tanneries in the Kingston and Toronto areas exemplify the evolution of this industry. In the mid-19th century,the Davis Tannery was founded and developed by John Carrington and his son John Joseph after their first tannery in Picton burnt down.
John was an outstanding citizen of Kingston as was attested to by his front page obituary in the Whig Standard. The Carringtons sold the tannery to the Davis group in the early 1900’s. John Joseph died in 1910. The tannery while owned and operated by the Carringtons had an international reputation for the quality of their product. They supplied the British army with leather for belts and boots etc.
Andrew Davis operated a tannery where craftsmen produced leather goods for local farmers and independent cobblers. Around 1860 he and his son became interested in mechanization. In the next decade, the family installed steam power and began introducing machines. Then, as the shoe industry began to expand in Ontario, the market grew to the point where mass production and the wholesale trade became viable propositions. New machinery helped accelerate production, reduce costs and provide variety in the colour and types of leather of the finished products. At the end of the 19th century, the Davis family experimented successfully with chrome tanning; in the first decade of the 20th century, running water and electricity were installed. Finally, direct access to the CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY resulted in lower transportation costs. The Davis tanneries continued to prosper, entering American and world markets in the 1930s.
If anyone that is reading this article has any more information about the history of the Davis Tannery, could you please make comments.