The Beaupre Men and the Penitentiaries

Kingston Pen exterior

Since 1835 when the Kingston Penitentiary was built, Kingston and Portsmouth have always been synonymous with KP.  In fact during my youth, there were 9 correctional institutions in and around Kingston and the area.  Our relatives worked at KP, Collins Bay, Joyceville and Millhaven prisons mostly.

To work at KP in the 1800’s you had to live close enough to the prison to hear the daily bell when it was rung.  The bell would toll at 8:00am which signaled to the village that the prisoners were awake, fed, ready to start their workday and that all were accounted for.  The bell would ring again at 4:00pm to signal that all the prisoners were back inside and again, all were accounted for.  If the bell rang at any other time, it meant there was trouble and that all able bodied guards, Keepers and staff were to report immediately to the prison!  The prisoners often worked outside the walls during the day, at the limestone quarry, or shovelling snow or doing road maintenance around Portsmouth etc.

William Sullivan 1839-1904 was the first ancestor that I could find who worked at KP.  He was the father-in-law of Olevia Beaupre 1875-1968.  Olevia is my great-aunt, sister to PM Beaupre.  William Sullivan became the Deputy Warden at KP.  I think PM Beaupre my grandfather, started at KP while William Sullivan was Deputy Warden.  PM Beaupre was a strapping man.  Tall and ramrod straight with a natural military bearing.  At 6’4″ he would have been an imposing figure.  When he joined KP in 1885, he was 25.  I wonder did he appeal to his relative William Sullivan for a job or did his own attributes put him in good stead?  Either, or both are plausible.

Justin P. Sullivan (Sully) 1919-1982, William’s grandson, also enjoyed an illustrious career.  He joined the CSC in 1940 at Collins Bay as a guard .  After WWII he returned to Kingston and joined the staff at KP.  Justin then became involved in classification, achieving the status of a sensitive and committed parole officer, highly respected by his parolees.  He transferred to Moncton NB in 1966 as the supervisor of the Moncton Parole Office.  In 1977 he was promoted to regional manager, communications at RHQ Atlantic. He was known as one of the truly great characters of modern day corrections and was sorely missed by all who knew him. He died suddenly while playing  golf on a holiday in 1982.  What a great way to go!

 

Peter Moffat Beaupre 1860-1956.  PM had trained at his father’s knee in shipbuilding and sailing. He started sailing at a very young age and by 21 he was a first mate. It was no easy task to ply the waters of the Great Lakes in those days.  Competition was stiff and mother nature was capricious. During one particularly bad storm PM, the captain and crew were caught in a November gale.  High seas made the steering extremely difficult and when the mast was hit by lighting, they all thought they were goners.  PM would later tell the story adding that he prayed to God and vowed that if he ever got back to shore alive he would never set foot on a ship again.  They made it back safely and true to his word, PM left the sea and joined KP at 25.  His starting wage as guard was $500.00 a year in 1885, the year he joined KP.  It remained $500.00 a year until 1899 when he was promoted to Keeper and his wage was raised to $600.00 a year. The Keeper was in charge when the Warden was absent.  I am not sure of the dates, or the wages but PM was promoted to Trades Master and finally Quarry Instructor.  As I said earlier, he was schooled at his father’s knee in all aspects of shipbuilding so he would have been well versed in carpentry, sail making etc.  As Quarry Instructor he was in charge, pun intended, of setting the explosives at the Limestone Quarry where the prisoners were digging and cutting the limestone for various building throughout Portsmouth and Kingston.  This was indeed, hard labour! I would love to know who taught PM to handle the explosives.  PM decided to retire from KP in 1927 at the age of 67 after suffering a minor stroke.

PM Beaupre in his Prison Guard’s Uniform in front of his home circa 1910 (below)

PM in Penitentiary Guard Uniform

I came up with the date of 1910 for the above picture after consulting with David St Onge the Curator of the Penitentiary Museum of Canada.  He told me the uniform had been updated in 1910 including new headwear.  I am assuming PM Beaupre was modelling the new uniform.

Two of PM’s sons, Alfred and Bert Beaupre followed in their father’s footsteps and joined the Penitentiary system.

Alfred Moffat Beaupre 1908-1972 worked for a brief couple of years at Collins Bay.  He was involved in an altercation with an inmate who struck Alf on the head with a two-by-four.  He suffered severe brain damaged and had to retire from the Pen in 1938.

 

Alf Sr

Alfred Moffat Discharge Paper

Alfred Moffat Beaupre Sr Discharge papers from Collins Bay Pen 1938 (above)

 

 

Lyons Hubert Charles Beaupre 1911-1999 worked his way up through the system to eventually become Deputy Warden at Joyceville Penitentiary.  I still have research to do on Bert ie his dates of employment etc.  I will add these as I do more research.

Young Bert Beaupre in Uniform (date unknown)

Young Bert as Guard

Bert Beaupre in his Deputy Warden’s Uniform (below)

Bert Beaupre Deputy Warden

Update: As promised, after further research, I found some additional information about Bert.  A fellow officer, Howard Bell, when interviewed said “Bert always impressed me so much.  He was highly respected in his field.  Although he was very reserved and austere he did like a good joke.  An inmate was brought before the Parole Board charged with stealing a roast of beef, so Bert wrote the offense up as cattle rustling…. Bert was very well read and very articulate. He could be rough, a rigid individual but he was never sadistic.  Having said that, there was a soft core in Bert and when needed he had kind words….it was a privilege working with men of his calibre, always trying to improve and upgrade the system”.

Two of Alfred Moffat Beaupre’s son. Alfred Jr and Peter also joined their illustrious relatives making them the third generation to work at the Pens.

 

Alfred Moffat Beaupre Jr 1943-2010 I am very sorry to say that I never got to meet Al and his brother Peter.  We were of the same generation, and even lived in the same town but somehow our paths never crossed.  I did however have the great good fortune of meeting Al’s wife, Linda.  Six years ago I was in Gananoque for the afternoon, visiting from Vancouver.  I was on my way to a friend’s house for dinner and came up behind a car with a license plate that read BEAUPRE.  You could have knocked me over with a feather!  I had no choice but to follow the car and its driver home.  I parked and approached the woman slowly as I didn’t want to alarm her.  I introduced myself, explained that I was related to the Beaupres of Kingston and asked if she was related too.  As she was 5 feet tall, I had my doubts.  As it turns out, she was married to my cousin Al Beaupre who was 6’3′ (that’s more like it).  She invited me into her home and we became fast friends.  Al had died the previous March and this was July.  I had just missed meeting him by 4 months.  I want to thank Linda for her wealth of information on that limb of the Tree.

 

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Al joined the service on January 5, 1967 at the age of  24. He was well liked and respected by both the inmates and his fellow Guards and Keepers.  He had a very calm and even temperament and was able to diffuse escalating situations.  Al was a member of the Emergency Response Team, a dog handler, Out of Province Transfer Team and a winning member on the Gun Squad.  One of my favourite stories from Linda is…. Al had showed kindness to an inmate, nothing out of the ordinary, but it meant a lot to the con.  Al didn’t even know the con felt that way. Awhile later that same con and two others were trying to escape.  They were in the duct work over Al’s head and one of the cons wanted to kill Al, but the aforementioned con stopped him.  They were of course caught and time was added to their sentence.  Later, that same con told Al what had happened and informed Al that now they were even, and if the situation ever rose again, he would kill Al, or not stop any other con from attempting it if necessary.  That was life in the prison system.

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On three different occasions, Al was promoted to Acting Keeper for a month or so at a time.  You had to write an exam every time you wanted to be considered for the position of Keeper.  Three times Al wrote the exam and three times he was denied the promotion, even though he had successfully been an Acting-Keeper.  The fourth time administration came to him asking if he would step up and help them for a month as Acting-Keeper, Al refused, and I don’t blame him one bit! Al retired in 2000, having worked 33 years at KP, Collins Bay, Joyceville and Milhaven.

Alf Jr Note of reccomendation

I recently went on a tour of KP.  The tour guide described the Keeper as being like the Vice Principal of a school.  When the Principal, ie the Warden, was away the Keeper was in charge of the whole prison. A huge responsibility to say the least.

Peter James Beaupre 1939-2000  Like his younger brother Al, I never had the pleasure of meeting Peter.  I do not have a lot of information on Peter, a situation I hope to remedy.  I know he also worked in the penal system, but where exactly I’m not sure.  Linda Beaupre told me a story that one day Peter went to Al and was very upset.  Peter said his son, Peter, had been tried and convicted of murder and was serving his sentence in British Columbia.  Peter was very concerned that he would be fired from his job, or that one of the inmates would hear about it and cause trouble.  Al assured Peter everything was okay and that because his son was in prison so far away there would be no ramifications.  Al was indeed correct as far as anyone knows.

Peter James Beaupre (picture below)

Peter James BeauprePeter James Beaupre also had a son named Peter.  As mentioned in the story above, his son Peter was living in Abbotsford BC and was tried and convicted of murder.  Below is a copy of the article from the Kingston Whig Standard dated December 5, 1995

The article says Peter Beaupre was a courier, described as a loner obsessed with a blind white dog.  At the time the police were investigating numerous homicides by the Abbotsford Killer. After extensive investigation it was decided that Peter Beaupre had only killed one woman.  Witnesses had seen a man with a red truck and a white dog at the scene of the crime.  Later a neighbour of Peter’s called the police to say Peter had a white dog and was vigorously cleaning his red truck. He was convicted of murdering a prostitute. I do not have anymore details at this time.  Peter’s actual conviction and later sentencing were not listed. As I find more details I will ad them to this page.

 

Peter Beaupre Convicted

To end on a lighter note….

The Title for this page is The Beaupre Men….., but their nearly was a Beaupre granddaughter born in the Women’s Pen in Kingston!  My mother Claire Beaupre Keane, always had a soft spot in her heart for some of the nuns in the Notre Dame Convent in Kingston. She knew they rarely got out to see the world, so when she could, Claire would take them on little outings.  Usually just drives in the country or for an ice cream cone.  On this one occasion, she took them on a tour of the Women’s Pen.  Things were going along smoothly until Claire who was 9 months pregnant started early labour pains.  As the tour progressed she had to sit on radiators, window ledges, anywhere she could find to rest.  Claire was reluctant to cut the tour short so she just smiled and grimaced and said nothing.  Finally she herded the nuns back into the car, drove them to the Convent, then drove home, picked up her husband and just made it to the hospital in time for my youngest sister Madelyn to “escape” being born in prison.  Oh the notoriety she missed.

I welcome any information or stories.  Please add them in the comment section.