North Bay’s infamous jail
It's not a spot anyone wants to be, but it's a place that's full of history.
That's why North Bay's heritage committee is recognizing the local jail, built in 1930, as a significant piece of the community's past.
“Often it can involve something of architectural distinction, right? Function and, I think in this case, the jail behind us is an example of that, right? It has played a certain function in our community and that function has been consistent with the whole life of the building.” said Robin Gendron, of the City of North Bay’s Municipal Heritage Committee.
The correctional facility is also infamously known for the escape of murderer Donald Kelly in 1975.
Kelly overpowered a prison guard and fled the facility sparking a giant manhunt leading to his arrest four weeks later.
“This sort of thing doesn't happen in North Bay! We don't get a jail break. We don't get a guy running out here on the highway and stopping a car and speeding off and then hijacking a lot of people, holding them hostage and then running off into the bush and then shooting a police dog. But behind these walls is more than just stories about notorious criminals. The place also holds a bit of history from a time when a form of capital punishment was still in place.” said Pete Handley, chair of the heritage committee.
At one point, the jail executed prisoners on the grounds.
“The gallows are supposedly in the jail somewhere and the last person who was hung is buried in the jail grounds. I don't know where, but somewhere in the jail grounds.” said Handley.
And the heritage committee says when you have a building like this, nearly 100 years old, no matter what purpose it serves, or how infamous it's been, the history can be interesting and there are always stories to be told.