|Coming off the hill (Warden's House/museum|
to the main gate of the prison
|The teenager next to the walls that were expanded|
over time since 1830's. The walls are the giveaway-yes , it is a prison.
www.virtualkingston.ca ( attractions ) has a virtual tour of the museum should you be interested.
The small museum was surprisingly busy . Most of the visitors were teenagers trying out some of the corporal punishment samples on display. I imagine the authority in their lives sending them there with the thought "they think they have it tough" on mind. Perhaps with the intent to firmly establish lines of authority psychologically without really letting them in on it.
I watched their reactions (as well as those of our teenager) change from childish game playing to wide-eyed ,silent awareness as they imagined themselves on the working end of the tools of the trade. Over the next half hour, those looks changed further as the concept of being imprisoned and receiving corporal punishment registered. This was their first sensing of what ' the end of the road ' actually could feel like . And it was not pleasant.
What really came home to me was how the atmosphere created by the simple presence of the items affected every person who entered the museum. There were no explanations of why and in what context the items existed , just simple cards identifying them and telling how they were used . There was no tour guide to explain and rationalize ...just oneself on a self-guided tour through feelings and reactions...isolated .
At the end of about an hour , the group of teenagers was no longer actively and energetically voicing opinions and judgements . They were silent , thoughtful and even a bit fearful- caught in thoughts they had never really explored . No one told them what to think or how . They reached that place through absorbing the atmosphere of punishment .
Of course , being older by several decades , from a time when corporal punishment was still in vogue , I could not help but remember my limited experience with it through my childhood . I will share that in the next post.