A brown concrete and stone building with an arch entrance. Two visitor signs are beside the entrance.
Huron Historic Gaol in Goderich, Ontario, photo courtesy of https://huron.getarchive.net/media/behind-the-bars-huron-historic-gaol-in-goderich-ontario-or-event-or-tourism-71ffad 

The Huron Historic Gaol located in Goderich, Ontario served as the County Jail from 1841 until its closure in 1972. Its distinctive octagonal shape was designed by Thomas Young, a Toronto architect looking to move away from the overcrowded building plans of the time and implement a new humanitarian prison design. The Gaol featured a number of large holding cells for criminals awaiting a verdict, a courtroom that was used for twenty years before one was constructed downtown, kitchen and laundry facilities, and several courtyards for inmates to work and exercise in. 

Throughout its years, the Gaol housed inmates of various crimes from minor misdemeanours to criminal convictions. One of the most infamous criminal cases in Huron County has roots here, with 14-year-old Steven Truscott incarcerated here in 1959. He was sentenced to hang for the murder of classmate Lynne Harper until his sentence was commuted to life in prison on January 22nd, 1960. Fifty years later, he was found to be wrongly convicted. 

While the Gaol was designed to house inmates temporarily, it was also used to house the homeless, vagrants, and the mentally ill. There were three hangings in the jail over its operational years, with two done publicly. The last public hanging in Canada took place in the Huron Historic Gaol with the execution of Nicholas Melady Jr. in 1869. The Gaol is now a National Historic Site and Museum that’s been refurbished to resemble the circumstances of the time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: