- The Winter Prison in Sherbrooke, Quebec will open to the public as a heritage site dedicated to the history of incarceration.
- Once renovations are complete, visitors will be able to walk through the halls.
Just because Halloween seems like a lifetime ago doesn't mean you can't still get your spook on. In fact, just this week, the city of Sherbrooke in the Eastern Townships of Quebec announced it will be coughing up some cash to restore the creepy old abandoned Winter Prison in the hopes of preserving the historic building and presenting it as an educational experience for visitors. The City of Sherbrooke made the announcement yesterday with the release of its three-year budget.
In the 2020 budget for sports infrastructure, culture and community life, $600,000 was set aside for the "partial opening of the Winter Prison project." Though there's no timeline as to when that might happen.
The building was condemned by the Régie du bâtiment in 2007 but a group dedicated to seeing the building rehabilitated saved it from demolition. In 1990, the prison closed after the opening of the Sherbrooke Detention Centre, the Canadian Press explains.
The prison was designed by architect Frederic Preston Rubidge and built by Charles Côté in 1865, making the structure over 150 years old. According to the National Trust Canada archives, the building is the oldest stone building in Sherbrooke and the third oldest public building in the city.
The Old Sherbrooke Prisoner Society can be thanked for the fact that the building is still standing, as it was set to be torn down before its closing. The group banded together in 1989 to fight the demolition of Winter Prison and then actually purchased the building in 1997 from the Ministry of Culture and Communications... for $1.
For years, the Old Sherbrooke Prisoner Society has been working to try and get the government support required to maintain the building and save it from deterioration, neglect, and vandalism.
Now, the City of Sherbrooke is hoping to transform the old, creepy prison into a "tourist destination that can shed light on the evolution of prison conditions through history," the Canadian Press explains.
The Canadian Press also highlights that "the provincial prison was known for its particularly inhospitable conditions, including its cramped cells" and "dilapidated" conditions.
The hope is that now this historic old building can transform into a heritage site that will shine a light on Quebec history, prison history and even architecture.
The Kingston Penitentiary in Kingston, Ontario, is a good example of prison that has been transformed in this manner.
The $600,000 set aside to work on the project is budgeted to 2020, which might mean that visitors could be touring the prison within the next few years.