Bring to Light Tour Update #5: Ottawa's Jail Hostel
Welcome back to the Bring to Light tour and our fifth update from our cross-Canada haunted road trip.
We’ve left Québec behind and arrived in Ottawa, Ontario, for our next stop: the Ottawa Jail Hostel.
Built in 1862, the structure was originally dubbed the Carleton County Gaol and housed Ottawa’s criminals for over a century. Right next to the courthouse, the jail had an underground tunnel to the courthouse that transported criminals to their cells.
The jail was closed in 1972 and was renovated into the hostel it is today, which has garnered international fame among backpackers and tourists who come to Ottawa to spend a night in the haunted jailhouse.
Reid and I slept in one of the more spacious cells, with just enough room for a double bunkbed and a fan. We met other guests (inmates?) who stayed in much narrower cells that only had enough room for the bed, without any space on either side.
The jail was the site of 3 executions during its time in operation, but remains of dozens of other inmates have been found leading historians to believe there were several “unofficial” executions either through starvation or inadequate blankets leading some inmates to freeze to death. There’s even a stairwell with a beam at the top which historians believe was where guards would hang prisoners they didn’t like without a death sentence.
The long stone halls with jail bar shadows were very creepy, and Reid and I both experienced restless night in our cell. The jailhouse stands to this day as an indictment of Canada’s failed justice system, which to this day is criticized for its inhumane, abusive conditions. Despite being a form of torture, solitary confinement is still practiced in jails across Canada, just as it was in the Carleton County Gaol over a century ago.
Stay tuned for our Bring to Light Tour video series! Our studio head and cinematographer extraordinaire Reid Price (@Reid_Price) is putting together a video for each location we visit to give you an in-depth look at our tour. So, subscribe to the Red Meat Games on YouTube and turn on notifications so you don’t miss an upload!