Presents from the Past

Kingston Pen Mug Shots

Four volumes of records from Kingston Penitentiary are available via Library and Archives Canada. Their official title is “Kingston Penitentiary Inmate History Ledgers,” but to most of us they are “books of mug shots.”

These books are a fascinating record of bad guys, ranging from around 1912 to 1919. Along with the photos, there are physical descriptions of the inmates — including their scars and tattoos — and in some cases, a newspaper clipping about the crime has been pasted next to the mug shot.

Norman “Red” Ryan

The inmates' names are searchable on the LAC website, but if you're in the mood to browse, try our handy-dandy shortcuts that allow you to explore an alphabetical list of inmates or to browse each book page-by-page.

Joseph Cleroux

Among the names you will find Norman “Red” Ryan, who was known as “the Jesse James of Canada,” Joseph Cleroux, who appeared in Merilyn Simonds' book The Convict Lover, and Thomas Longeway who stole — among other things — a quantity of Christmas cake.

Thomas Longeway