Ottawa, Ontario – This is likely the only capital city in the world where every night tourists pay to spend the night in jail. From 1862 to until 1972, HI-Ottawa was the Carleton County Goal (Jail). In fact, it was the site of the last public hanging in Canada. In 1973 it became the Ottawa International Hostel, providing accommodation in authentic, renovated, jail cells for $20 to $60 per night. You do not have to be a member of Hostelling International to stay, but that does get you a discount. Even walk-in visitors can join the evening ‘Crime and Punishment’ tours, and see the gallows where in 1869, 5000 watched as Patrick James Whalen was executed after spending 10 months on death row on the hostel’s top floor. The building is said to be haunted. Staff and visitors have reported strange occurrences ranging from taps mysteriously turning on and voices from empty rooms, to the sound of cell doors closing on their own. At Halloween there are séances and special tours and packages.
Well-located for sightseeing, the hostel is at 75 Nicholas St., which is within walking distance of the Byward Market, the Rideau Shopping Centre, and Parliment Hill (here’s a live look at the hill: Ottawa Webcam). Quick Tip: Time your visit for early May and you’ll see the city burst into bloom: more than three million tulips are planted throughout the Capital Region.
HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel, 75 Nicholas St Ottawa, Ontario