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Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Penitentiary National Historic Site

 
Saint-Vincent-de-Paul
Photo: Richard-Pierre Vidal

Historic federal penitentiary wasting away.

Location

Laval, Quebec

Why it matters

From the time of its opening in 1873 until its closure in 1983, the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Penitentiary was the country’s only francophone correctional facility. In 1990, the imposing structure, which is Canada’s second oldest federal penitentiary, was designated a National Historic Site due to the important role it played in Quebec’s social history. “Le Vieux Pen” gained worldwide notoriety after the army was called in to quell a prison riot there in 1962.

Why it’s endangered

Though the abandoned buildings were a popular filming location and open for tours, in 2007, the site was closed to the public after mold was found in its walls. Since then, the former prison has languished with no clear plans for its future. With no investment and very little maintenance, this National Historic Site is wasting away.