The Story of Toronto's Infamous Jail
An in-depth exploration of the Don Jail from its inception through jailbreaks and overcrowding to its eventual shuttering and rebirth.
Conceived as a “palace for prisoners,” the Don Jail never lived up to its promise. Although based on progressive nineteenth-century penal reform and architectural principles, the institution quickly deteriorated into a place of infamy where both inmates and staff were in constant danger of violence and death. Its mid-twentieth-century replacement, the New Don, soon became equally tainted.
Along with investigating the origins and evolution of Toronto’s infamous jail, The Don presents a kaleidoscope of memorable characters — inmates, guards, governors, murderous gangs, meddlesome politicians, harried architects, and even a pair of star-crossed lovers whose doomed romance unfolded in the shadow of the gallows.
This is the story of the Don’s tumultuous descent from palace to hellhole, its shuttering and lapse into decay, and its astonishing modern-day metamorphosis.
Speaker's Book Award 2021 — Shortlisted