Historic SDG jail unlocks first season under SDG Tourism Division

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

CORNWALL — The Historic SDG Jail creaked open its doors for the summer season this week. Until August 25, tours of the old jail run Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.

A local tour guide leads visitors on an interactive and historical journey through the facility, which dates back to 1833.

Admission is a reasonable $10 for adults and $5 for children.

“It’s a brand-new program for us, and we are thrilled to be able to offer it,” said Shauna Baggs, Tourism Coordinator for SDG.

Although tours have been available in the past through various organizations, this is the first year the United Counties is offering tours under the newly formed SDG Tourism division of the Corporate Services Department. The new division was created after SDG pulled out of a longstanding tourism promotion office with the City of Cornwall last year.

In addition to the tours, an in-house visitor’s centre has been created inside the jail to promote tourism throughout the counties.

“Tourism is a vital part of our local economy,” said Tim Simpson, SDG Chief Administrative Officer.  “The visitor centre will promote all the great attractions and events throughout SDG as we look to build and enhance our tourism network.”

Jail tours will run every 20 minutes and interested individuals and groups are encouraged to call 613-935-4891 to book.  Bookings can also be confirmed via email at jail@sdgcounties.ca.

The venue got a kickstart earlier this month with Escape Manor’s ‘Escape the Cornwall Jail’ attraction — not be confused with the regular tours of the site.

The Historic SDG Jail

Originally constructed in 1833, the jail remained operational over a period of 168 years until its 2002 closure.  It housed inmates from Cornwall and across the modern-day United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry. (Today, these prisoners are shipped off to the Innes Rd. jail in Ottawa.)

Located at 11 Water Street, Cornwall, the facility is maintained in almost the same condition as it was upon closure, with historical artifacts and displays arranged around the building.  Visitors are able to tour one of the oldest public structures in Ontario, through the cell blocks, exercise yard, governors’ residence, guards’ station and more.

Although owned by SDG taxpayers exclusively, the old jail and attached SDG headquarters are located in Cornwall because of history. Cornwall was part of the United Counties until the city split off into its own municipality in the 1940s.


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