A few years ago, the photo gods smiled upon me and gave me a chance to explore the Old Don Jail with a group of photographers from Topix. It was creepy; dark hallways, broken lights, cages, wall scribblings left behind by inmates, and the most unforgettable feature being a support beam over an open stairwell that was used for impromptu hangings (eeek!).
Today the original building has undergone significant changes and that’s a good thing. It was a relic from a brutal time in Toronto’s history, when a night of binge drinking could land you in a shared cell with a repeat murder. Much of the lingering creep factor has dissipated since the building has been renovated and incorporated into the super shiny Bridgepoint Health facility.
One of my photos from that day in jail was used in this article on Toronto’s observance of Prisoners’ Justice Day by Peter Goffin for Torontoist. So here’s to a new day, a new life to an old building, and a new approach to criminal rehabilitation in this city.
Old Don Jail, Toronto