Goderich's Historic GAoL

The building sits back from the road carrying echoes of one of Canada’s earliest prisons. The Huron Historic Gaol is part of the Huron County Museum and offers a step back in time to the prison system active until the Gaol’s closing in 1972.

First built in 1841, the prison was regarded as a model of humanitarian prison design. It originally served as the Gaol for the Counties of Huron, Bruce and Perth, later serving only Huron County.

public hangings in Canada

Throughout its history the Gaol housed inmates registered for crimes from misdemeanors to criminal convictions, including three men who were hanged for crimes of murder. It also provided shelter as the House of Refuge for the ill, destitute and mentally ill. Men, women and children all spent time in the Gaol throughout its history. In 1869, the last public handing in Canada took place at this site.

Go Behind the Bars for an engaging re-enactment

Today, the Huron Historic Gaol offers visitors an opportunity to recreate historical experiences through an interactive performance called Behind the bars. Local performers resurrect actual Gaol staff such as the prison doctor, chef, and prison ward. Other actors portray the experiences of prisoners. Behind the Bars shows during the summer before sunset often selling out every day. It is a family friendly outing allowing children to enter cells and see the warden and staff’s quarters. Displays share specific stories of prisoners housed at the Gaol.