inside prison

Grand Valley Institution for Women (Federal Correctional Institution)

Quick Facts
Country Canada
Province Ontario
City Kitchener
Security-Level Multi-Level
Website Grand Valley Institution
Jurisdiction Federal
Year opened 1997
Capacity 100-110
Population 90-100
Famous Prisoners --


grand valley institution for women

Grand Valley Institution was originally modeled on a "village" concept, with ten 8-inmate sloped-roof cottages surrounded by a grass lawn, and all the administrative services shared in a separate wing on the east side of the prison. Each cottage includes a public living room, dining room, porch, and kitchen, and a private laundry, study, and bathroom. The architecture resembles its strict programmatic division: administration, visitation, casework, gymnasium, education, and health care are all self-contained within their own units, and are all connected by a loggia that faces the common area outside. Instead of the traditional panoptical ring of cells surrounding a central security and observation booth, the prison surrounds a multipurpose (politically-correct) chapel. According to the Architectural Record, the design involves light-filled corridors, sloped grounds, subdued colours, natural maple millwork, and indirect lighting, giving the facility an "uninstitutional" quality.

To promote self-sufficiency, prisoners in each cottage of Grand Valley cook their own food, and tend their own gardens. Because of self-sufficiency, a wooden infrastructure instead of a concrete infrastructure, and the potential higher level of inmate-pride in housekeeping, each unit costs 30% to 50% less than traditional penitentiary designs, according to Correctional Services Canada.

The design for the 74,000 square-foot Grand Valley Institution was created by Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, bought for approximately $9.4 million. (Architectural Record 1 Dec 1998)


29 September 2005

Two female correctional staff members, a nurse and a social worker, were taken hostage, burned with cigarettes, threatened with a metal shank, and force-fed pills by two inmates in the institution. The incident provoked protests from the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers to end forced overtime for guards, decrease staff stress and frustration, increase one-on-one time with prisoners, and improve safety conditions, all features of the institution that have been lacking in recent years, the union said. In describing the recent situation at Grand Valley, Kevin Bansfield, spokesperson for the union, said that guards are "seeing some alarming incidents of senseless violence, and increasing exposure to blood" (Kitchener-Waterloo Record 29 Sep 2005)

4 September 1999

2 years after it was built in 1997, Grand Valley Institution expanded its capacity from 80 to 99, becoming the largest prison for women in Canada at the time. The extra bed spaces will be reserved for inmates with special needs, and will only house those designated for medium and minimum security. The intention is to separate the maximum security facility from the medium and minimum security "cottages," and to provide both groups of inmates with their own separate yards. Local Kitchener residents protested when the jail was originally built in 1997, and again following the expansion in 1999, allegedly because of a failure on the part of the government to inform the community before construction began.


According to user sources, there has only been 1 attempted escape, in September of 2003

Suicides and Deaths

According to users, there has been 1 suicide, which took place in December, 2003.



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