Canada's Penitentiary Museum (Correctional Service of Canada Museum) En coulisses

Ontario Provincial Jail Inmate Jacket

Ontario Provincial Jail Inmate Jacket

Our Curator, Dave St.Onge, is shown with a rare c1930s Ontario Provincial jail inmate uniform jacket (Acc# 2007.012).  It illustrates an element of ‘the other side’ of our national and provincial histories – and how our governments managed offenders of the law!  

While the familiar American black & white striped convict uniform has become somewhat iconic (just think of the jailed banker in Monopoly, or a myriad of other cartoon representations.) this lesser known blue and brown stripe was the Canadian version for many years.  It was used in Canada’s federal penitentiaries from c.1900 to 1921 when the federal uniforms were changed to plain fabrics.  It is thought that around that time, the surplus custom-dyed 'Government' yardage and usable remaining uniforms were transferred or sold to some of the provinces for use in their jails. 

This example, one of two that we are aware of, has two remaining “PROVINCE OF ONTARIO” buttons and is believed to date to the mid-1920s - 1940s.  Unfortunately, nothing is known about the wearer(s) or the specific jail in which it was used, however the donor believes that it came from the Kingston area.