Sherbrooke to spend $600,000 to refurbish, re-open historic prison building

The Winter Prison opened in 1865 and functioned as a prison until it closed in 1990, following the opening of the Sherbrooke Detention Centre on Talbot St.

The city of Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, will spend some $600,000 to refurbish one of its most culturally significant buildings so that the public may visit its historic interior.

The Winter Prison, located on the street of the same name, was closed almost 30 years ago. On Monday, Sherbrooke announced that it would spend $600,000 of its 2020-2022 capital works budget on refashioning the abandoned prison as a tourist destination.

The Winter Prison opened in 1865 and functioned as a prison until it closed in 1990, following the opening of the Sherbrooke Detention Centre on Talbot St.

The provincial prison was known for its particularly inhospitable conditions, including its cramped cells, and its dilapidated condition in its later years.

Sherbrooke citizen's groups have for years been calling for the stone building's preservation because it was one of the oldest buildings in Sherbrooke and of an architectural style that is rare in Quebec.

They hope to turn it into a tourist destination that can shed light on the evolution of prison conditions through history.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2019.