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Report - millbrook prison - canada's supermax


occupy rooftops
28DL Full Member
Prisons are not something one usually associates with Canada, but the Northerners needed someplace to put all their baddies. And contrary to popular belief, there are some nutters up North (see this geezer)

The wide open farms of Ontario spread out in front of us after we breached the Toronto city limits, gunning the car down the 401. The four in the car (Axle, TRAINS, hellokitty and yours truly) were on a mission: like Connery and Cage in The Rock, we were going to infiltrate the joint. We were on the trail of Canada’s former Supermax, a place whose name once struck fear into teenage hooligans and serial murderers alike: Millbrook Prison.


Understandably located far from any real population centers in the middle of The Sticks, Millbrook was where Canada kept its most violent prisoners. Opened in 1957 in response to a massive riot that ripped through Guelph Reformatory, Millbrook was purpose built to house the baddest of the bad, the inmates who could not be housed anywhere else in the system. Mostly people who spoke ill of hockey, I assume. Regardless of their crimes, the inmates were tossed into solitary confinement upon arrival in what came to be called the Ontario Plan. An inmate’s stay was divided into three phases, with the initial one being the most draconian. With good behaviour, they were rewarded with things like books other than the Bible, smokes, and at the top level, one outgoing letter a week.


Conditions at Millbrook were notoriously harsh. Things like toiletries and sweets were contraband, and the guards strictly regulated everything down to how the inmates slept. Inmates were segregated into three groups: one for discipline problems, one for sex offenders, and a third for inmates deemed to be homosexual. Psychological help was hard to come by, the staff overworked and underpaid. In April of 2000, a Vietnamese immigration prisoner died under 'suspicious circumstances' - sparking a hunger strike by the inmates. April got off to a bad start again three years later, when prisoners broke into one of the prison's control rooms and unlocked a wing's worth of cells - releasing 30 thugs into the halls of the jail. The inmates tried unsuccessfully to reach the outer yard, and after a few hours resigned to returning to their cells, their jailbreak foiled. The government began to take notice, and sure enough, by the end of the year Millbrook was shut down, the prisoners being transferred to jails in Kingston and Lindsay.

We climbed the hill to the prison, and slowly the imposing three-story-high brick walls came into view. All the doors were welded shut, and a walk around the perimeter quickly revealed our options were limited. After all, this was a building designed to keep the world inside totally separate from what was outside. It was a fortress. But as with all castles, the walls were eventually breached. We found a chink in Millbrook's armor.

Inside, the prison was eerily cold. The thick walls of the prison insulated the cold air inside from the hot Ontario sunshine. One hallway was covered in a layer of ice (!!!) two inches thick, trapping a fire hose in its grip. Mid April didn't seem so bright inside the joint.


The prison's maximum security wings were wide open, all the cell doors locked open by the last wardens to leave. The slots in the doors would have been the inmates' only portal to the outside world, save for a window that looked out on the yard. A crap way to spend 20 years to life.


The prison was a self-sustaining city of sorts. Within its walls were kitchens, medical facilities, and a machine shop that, until 2000, made most of Ontario's license plates. An equipment malfunction that year left the province short of plates by 100,000 or so. When three outside workers were brought into the prison to help make up the difference, all sorts of health and safety types cried foul, and the presses fell silent soon after, with production shifting to a private contractor. It was one more thorn in the side of the wardens, and only added to government pressure to close the facility.



The beauty of an abandoned prison is that when all the doors (okay, interior doors at least) are left open, one can see both sides of the same coin. The guards at Millbrook enjoyed several towers where they could survey the sprawling complex of buldings. Central locking stations, like the one the prisoners stormed in 2003, made their jobs easier and arguably a bit safer. At the time Millbrook was built, the central monitoring systems had only begun to make their debut onto the penitentiary scene.


We escaped Millbrook without being descended on by the black helicopters of the OPP (which beseiged a team that went a few weeks prior to us) or the residents of the hamlet of Millbrook. Our attention turned back to the glittering skyscrapers of Toronto, skyscrapers that were literally asking for it. We would soon oblige, turning the heights into our playground. Another post.

see more postcards from the joint right here and if you like this feel free to whore it out.