VAUGHAN STREET JAIL (1881), Doors Open Winnipeg, May 30 2015

444 York Ave     May 30th & May 31st, 2015
Saturday & Sunday: 9 am – 5 pm

Doors Open Winnipeg

“Normally closed to the public, the 134-year-old former gaol is the oldest provincially owned building still standing within city limits. It is connected to many significant local and national historical figures. Stop by and listen to tales of famous Canadians from both sides of the bars as you take the tour with a variety of characters from yester-year. Learn about inmate treatment and 19th century law. See a real ball and chain, wear an inmate’s uniform, and see photos of criminals. Tours will take place every ten minutes.”  from

Inspired by Invererary Jail in Scotland,  Muddy Water Tours founder, Kristen Verin-Treusch, researched this building during her Masters degree in Canadian history.

Her research covers the era between 1881-1930.

 Three main points of discovery that was surprising are:

  1. it is the oldest provincially owned building still standing in Western Canada,

  2. there are significant local & Canadian historical figures connected to this site,

  3. and there is still no heritage designation on this 133 year old site.

Canadian historical figures connected to the jail:
1st Juvenile Court Judge in Canada; Thomas Mayne Daly
1st public health nurse in Canada; Margaret Scott
1st Eastern Judicial District Sheriff; Colin Inkster
1st Provincial Architect; Samuel Hooper
1st Warden of Manitoba; Samuel Bedson
1st official Dominion Executioner; Arthur English (A.K.A Ellis)
1st Jailor at this facility; Patrick Lawler of Wolseley Expedition
1st double hanging at this jail; May 27th, 1899
1st Flogging Oct 1884 for John McCormack
1st serial killer of Manitoba hanged; Earl Nelson, January Friday 13th, 1928
1st Provincial Coroner, jail surgeon; Dr. E Benson


NAMES Discovered 2011
1st Licensed female Doctors in Mb: Dr. Amelia Yeomans & Dr. Lillian Yeomans
Winnipeg General Strike Leaders consisting of:
John Queen, William Ivens, RE Bray, Richard Johns, William Pritchard and RB Russell.
Wpg Gen. Strike Leader: Helen Armstrong
E. Cora Hind: Suffragist, journalist
James Dodds: Arsonist

Names Discovered in 2012
– J. S. Woodsworth; Founder of the All People’s Mission, Strike leader
1st Provincial Corner; Dr. E Benson; jail surgeon
Executioner John Radclive: 1890-1913
Manitoba Provincial Police Detective: Jacob Seel
Chicago Detective Allan Pinkerton (grandson of Founder of Pinkerton Det. Agency USA)


Walk around this 134 year old foreboding former gaol (jail) with a turnkey from yesteryear and he’ll surely shock and surprise you into improved attendance at work or school. O.k, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but the improvement will definitely be noticed during the tour as you listen to tales of famous Canadians from both sides of the bars, inmate treatment, 19th century law, hold a ball and chain, wear an inmates uniform, and see photo images of criminals.

– Albert Westgate: Murderer
– Charles Tupper, grandson of Charles Tupper PM
William Luxton, founder of the Manitoba Free Press
Rev. Charles William Gordon (better known as the author Ralph Connor)

Other Canadian historical figures connected to the jail:
“Bloody Jack” Krafchenko: Notorious bank robber from Manitoba, hanged 1914
Big Bear & Poundmaker; allies of Louis Riel 1885
Ken Leishman: the “Flying Bandit”; stole gold bouillon 1960s

VAUGHAN STREET JAIL built 1881, Winnipeg




Heritage Winnipeg presents, Doors Open 2015


Nelly McLung implores the audience to listen why women deserve the vote


Doors Open Winnipeg, May 2015


Serial Killer Earl Nelson, tells us about his dastardly deeds in Winnipeg and across North America.

“Earle Leonard Nelsonaka The Gorilla Killer (May 12, 1897 – January 13, 1928), was an American serial killer.

Nelson’s mother and father both died of syphilis before Nelson turned two. He was subsequently sent to be raised by his maternal grandmother, a devout Pentecostal. Around the age of 10, Nelson collided with a streetcar while riding his bicycle and remained unconscious for six days following the accident. After he awoke, his behavior became erratic and he suffered from frequent headaches and memory loss. When Nelson was 14, his grandmother died and Nelson went to live with his aunt, Lillian, and her husband.” from Wikipedia

Vaughan Street Jail, Winnipeg





Inside the Vaughan Street Jail


Most of the old jail cells have been removed





Inside Vaughan Street Jail, Winnipeg



Earl Nelson, and some other good guys and bad guys.


Vaughan street Jail skylight



Inside the Vaughan Street Jail, Winnipeg


Old Floor Tiles






Abstract Wall pattern. Rip out and repair.






Looking up at the glass dome tower. Vaughan Street Jail.




Abstract Floor Pattern, Walls Removed.






Vintage Jail Cell bars.


Solitary Confinement, Vaughan Street Jail, Winnipeg



Old Toilet and Sink, Vaughan Street Jail, Winnipeg






Vaughan Street Jail, Winnipeg


Iron Locking Mechanism, Vaughan Street Jail, Winnipeg


Vaughan Street Jail, Winnipeg. At the end was the Death Row Cell with a table for the last meal of the condemned man.




Psychiatric Patients did not have medical treatment at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries. They were instead thrown in Jail and then strapped to the floor if they acted up.





The stairs up from the basement where the condemned men would climb to the eastern courtyard where the gallows waited. Vaughan Street Jail, Winnipeg


Perhaps the last view of a death row prisoner as he stood on the gallows, Vaughan Street Jail, Winnipeg





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