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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: 

Kingston Penitentiary [Various Records]

Date Range: 

1834 - 1994

Additional Information: 

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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