The Huron Historic Gaol was established as the Huron County Gaol for Upper Canada's Huron District. Clearing of the land began in Goderich, Ontario in 1839 and the jail was constructed between 1839 and 1842 using stone from the Maitland River Valley and from Michigan. The octagonal jail was designed by Thomas Young, modelled after Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon design for prison construction, common in mid-19th century Britain and North America.To visit Huron Historic Gaol on your holiday in Goderich, and find out what else Goderich has to offer, use our Goderich.
A temporary courtroom and Council Chambers were set up on the jail’s third floor. It was in this makeshift Council Chamber that the first Huron District Council meeting was held on February 8, 1842. The third floor was also used for church services and other public gatherings before proper buildings were available. The building served the dual purpose of jail and courthouse until the construction of the county courthouse was completed in 1856, in the centre of Goderich’s Market Square.
The site ceased functioning as a jail serving Huron County in 1972 and inmates were then transferred to Walkerton and Stratford jails. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1973.
Huron Historic Gaol reviews
This is a fascinating and sometimes depressing place, fascinating because it is a powerful view into the history of Ontario jails, and depressing because of the treatment prisoners received in the past. The Governor's home really points out the differences between living free and being imprisoned, but the governor himself was a forward-thinking man who firmly believed that the prisoners were human beings and deserved to be treated as such. It is disturbing to note that the last prisoners occupied cells in recent times. The gaol is well worth a visit.
This is a really interesting place to visit! It feels as if you have gone back in time and are experiencing what it would be like to walk into this place as a prisoner. Highly recommend this historic site.
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