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  Doors Open Toronto

Don Jail
550 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, ON M4M1A1
Telephone: 416-000-000

District: South (former City of Toronto and East York)

Architect and year:
William Thomas, 1862-1865

Saturday: 10 am to 5 pm
Last admittance to building: 4:30 pm
Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm
Last admittance to building: 4:30 pm

The Old Don Jail is one of Toronto’s greatest hidden treasures. Built before Confederation, it was the largest prison of its kind built in North America - a jail that attempted to reform its inmates rather than simply incarcerate them. The Don Jail reflected contemporary trends in prison design for its time and was remarkably well conceived. Its design provided each inmate with access to daylight, heat and ventilation - all modern advances in mid-19th-century prisons. During the day prisoners worked in the fields that are now the surrounding Riverdale neighbourhood.
The Don Jail was designed by William Thomas, one of Toronto's most important 19th-century architects. The Jail, and another of his designs, St. Lawrence Hall, remain the largest mid-19th-century buildings built by the City of Toronto. The Jail design features cell wings leading off from a great Rotunda, one of Toronto’s most astounding 19th-century rooms.

Event information:
After more than 30 years of vacancy, the Old Don Jail is soon to be adapted as an active part of Bridgepoint Health's new hospital. Doors Open 2009 will be the only fully public opportunity to see the Jail before the renovations begin. Walk through the main doors of the Jail to visit the great Rotunda and the cellblocks. 1/2 hour guided tours of building highlights, expect line ups. For more information about future tour opportunities, or to book your special event at the Don Jail, please visit

Other information:
narrow stairways, uneven floors

Photography permitted:Filming permitted:
Interior Yes     tripod: NoInteriorNo     tripod: No
ExteriorYes     tripod: NoExteriorNo     tripod: No

Getting there: Click here for map.

TTC (nearest station) Broadview Station Bus/streetcar: 504 King, 505 Dundas, 506 Carlton

Visit their web site:

Accessibility: N/A   Washrooms: Yes   Parking: None   Food/Bev: Yes   
Highlights: New this year   N/A   


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