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Inmates / Penitentiary Records

General: 

Research Guide 233 - Criminal Justice Records on the Archives of Ontario website is an excellent place to learn more about Ontario justice records--i.e. provincial offences; sentences less than 2 years.


Library and Archives Canada holds records of the following federal institutions. Many of these records are closed to the public; however, the links to the LAC holdings are included here for your convenience:


On-line: 

Warrants and Pardons

Date Range: 

1792 - 1953

Additional Information: 

  • The Government of Canada kept records of prisoners who were moved or pardoned for various reasons.
  • The records are available on microfilm from Library and Archives Canada.
  • To find out which microfilm reel to order, consult this chart.
  • For more information about how to view the microfilm, contact Library and Archives Canada.

Convict Deaths at the Kingston Penitentiary

Date Range: 

1835 - 1915

Additional Information: 

  • These records are from an article by H.L. Armstrong, originally published in Families, November 1999 (Ontario Genealogical Society, Kingston Branch)
  • The article is available on the CanGenealogy website.
  • The print version is available in the periodicals boxes in the Genealogy Room at the Central Library. The call number is GENEAL P1.3.

Prisoner's Record Book of Kingston Penitentiary

Date Range: 

various dates

Additional Information: 

Operational Records of the Penitentiary Branch

Date Range: 

1843 - 1962

Additional Information: 

  • These records are available on microfilm from Library and Archives Canada.
  • They include files on convictions, sentences, transfers and escapes of prisoners in federal institutions.
  • To find out which microfilm reel to order:
  • 1. Visit the Government of Canada Files page and click Search the Complete Database.
  • 2. In the Keywords box, type the prisoner's surname.
  • 3. In the Record Group box, type 13.
  • 4. Ignore the other boxes.
  • 5. Click the Submit Query button.
  • 6. If the document is available on microfilm, it will have a reel number consisting of a letter(s) followed by a hyphen and four digits (e.g. T-4567)
  • 7. For more information about how to view the microfilm or obtain copies of the non-microfilmed records, contact Library and Archives Canada.

Warden's Letterbook, Kingston Penitentiary

Date Range: 

1848 - 1856

Additional Information: 

  • The letterbook contains correspondence relating to escapes, prison deaths, and the release of convicts, including military prisoners.
  • The letterbook itself is available on microfilm, but the index is available only in hardcopy.
  • 1. Consult the index first. It is called the Subject and Name Index to the Warden's Letterbook, Kingston Penitentiary, 1848-1856. If you find the name of the person you're looking for, write down the page number.
    • a. One copy of the index is in the Genealogy Room at the Central Library (GENEAL 929.3712371 Arch).
    • b. Another copy is available at Library and Archives Canada, where it is called Finding Aid 13-19.
  • 2. Order Microfilm Reel: RG 13 D1, Volume 1050, Reel #T-2045. For more information about how to view the microfilm, contact Library and Archives Canada.

Kingston Penitentiary Inmate Ledgers

Date Range: 

various dates

Additional Information: 

  • Library and Archives Canada has made available online four volumes of records about Kingston Penitentiary inmates.
  • Most of the records date from about 1912 to 1919, with a small number of earlier or later records.
  • Each page includes a pair of photographs (mug shots), a physical description of the inmate, date and place of sentencing, and the crime for which he was convicted.
  • In some cases, a newspaper clipping about the crime has been pasted into the ledger (see Book Two, below). 
  • The inmates’ names are searchable on the LAC website or, for easier browsing, try the shortcuts on our KFPL Reads blog

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