WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of Nov. 20 to 23

BY MATT HARRISON

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A film still from Finnish film, Road North, showing this week at the 29th Annual European Film Festival

European Film Fest
Officially, the 29th Annual European Film Festival began last week. It slipped my mind, and if it slipped my mind, then perhaps it may have also slipped others’ — which is a tragedy, given the quality of the films on offer this month. And so, mea culpa. To atone, here’s what caught my eye in the festival’s second week: One Mile Away, a documentary by British filmmaker, Penny Woolcock, which chronicles the gang rivalry between Birmingham’s ‘the Johnson Crew’ and the ‘Burger Bar Boys’, and the extraordinary steps that two opposing gang members took to bring about reconciliation — it’s on Thursday, Nov. 20 at 9 p.m. How about a Finnish road movie? Tie pohjoiseen (Road North), by Mika Kaurisamaki, is about a father, reuniting with his son 35 years later, and the two heading north in a stolen car — Friday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. If you’re currently watching or planning on watching the TV series The Americans, you might also like Jack Strong, a true tale about a Polish double agent during the Cold War era who exhaustingly vies between the Soviets and the C.I.A. Directed by Poland’s Wladyslaw Paskiowski, it’s on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.

New to the festival this year is the ability to purchase tickets simply by clicking here in advance and then pick them up at the door. For more info, visit here.
The festival runs until Sunday, Nov. 30
The E.U. Film Festival is at the Library & Archives Canada building, 395 Wellington St.

Eft’d up is right
Ever imagined what a comedian might do with your real-life story? Find out during The Experimental Farm Theatre’s improv comedy event at Pressed Cafe on Thursday, Nov. 20. The formula is: audience’s true stories + comedian’s confessions + improv = hilarity. Or profound awkwardness. Or both. Featuring improv groups Urban Woodsmen and Birds of Prey, along with a host of others, the event gets underway at 7:30 p.m. Costs $5. More particulars on who, exactly, will be there, visit here.
Pressed is at 750 Gladstone Av.

Bourbon Bananza
Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey — I know all you lumbersexuals know what I’m talking about. Bourbon. Derived primarily from corn, the American whiskey, often aged in charred oak casks, now competes with top scotch brands for our imbibing dollars. And why not. It’s dee-licious. Especially if you like the taste of whiskey, but aren’t wowed by kinds that taste like it’s been sieved through moss. And cooks love it, because it has so much body and adds a degree of richness to food. To this end, some of Ottawa’s restos are participating in Bourbon Week (Friday, Nov. 21 to Thurs., Nov. 27). The week kicks off with an event at Two Six {Ate} on Friday, Nov. 21, where old school bourbon cocktails will get a makeover. On Saturday, Nov. 22 Union 613 is hosting Beyond the Bourbon, where samples of rare bourbons will be paired with tasty treats — there’s two times for this event: either at 3 p.m. or 8 p.m. Tickets are $32.
More events on Monday and throughout the remaining week — visit here for details.
Two Six {Ate} is at 268 Preston St.; Union 613 is at 315 Somerset St. W.

Joy — Where?
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart? Where? Actually, down on Wellington Street to be exact, and it’s not me who’s got it (sadly — I blame winter), rather the Ottawa Valley Crafts & Collectibles Guild. They’re holding Joy, a juried (as in, not everyone who owns a glue gun gets in) craft market at the Library & Archives on Saturday, Nov. 22 and Sunday, Nov. 23. The market features 85 vendors. It’s slogan: “a unique melange of traditional, steampunk and geek — all served up with a cup of good cheer!” i.e. tea and other seasonal beverages. Oh and carollers. For a full list of vendors, visit the bottom of the page, here. Doors open at 9 a.m. and close at 4 p.m.
This year, the event is generating money for the Ottawa Senators Foundation, a charity that supports social recreation and education programs for kids. More on this foundation, visit here.
Joy will be at the Library & Archives Canada building at 395 Wellington St.

“I now regret it completely…”
Once one of the harshest critics of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), what environmentalist Mark Lynas now “regrets” is “having spent several years ripping up GM crops.” In 2013, Lynas reversed his stance and declared: “I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonizing an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.” And yet, if you recall, GMO was — and still is to many — a dirty word that helped kick off the organic movement we see today in full swing. So are GMOs good or bad?
Confused? I am. Well, to muddy the waters further (though I doubt that’s the organizers of this event’s intent) St. Paul University is hosting Ottawa’s inaugural GMO Free event, featuring keynote speakers, panel discussions, Q&As with local experts — all on the side of freeing ourselves from GMO products. Lots of time for questions — like, why is one of the anti-GMO movement’s founders (Lynas) suddenly doing a 180?!?
The event is on Saturday, Nov. 22, and begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. More info, visit here.
St. Paul University is at 223 Main St.

 

 

 

 

 

WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of Nov. 13 to 16

BY MATT HARRISON
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FAKERS GONNA FAKE
I guess you could blame it on the rain… or these two fakes: Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, aka Milli Vanilli, who really brought lip synching into the foray when it was discovered that they weren’t the ones singing on their 1989 record, Girl You Know It’s True. To say the least, the masses were aghast. Like Milli & Vanilli, lip syncing appeals to those of us without talented vocal chords. And on that note (pun) Babylon is hosting a lip synching battle to raise money for lung cancer. Contestants will have 2 minutes to wow audiences with their ability to fake it. Afterwards, a panel of judges — including China Doll — will hand down their verdict. Trophies, tunes by DJ Gerdzilla, and costumes will be part of this spectacle. Lipsync Battle for Life happens on Thursday, Nov. 13 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.
Babylon is at 317 Bank St.

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ARTFUL BLOGGER: Tales of roadkill, N.Y. portraits & bejewelled insects

PAUL GESSELL

Marc Nerbonne, 'Meeting about us', 40 x40, mixed media on Dibond, 2014

Marc Nerbonne, ‘Meeting about us’, 40 x40, mixed media on Dibond, 2014

The table is perhaps the most important piece of furniture in the house. This is where members of the family sit to discuss important events, mark celebratory events, and have stressful arguments.

With that in mind, check out the new mixed media works by Gatineau artist Marc Nerbonne on view Nov. 6-19 at Galerie St. Laurent + Hill in the Byward Market. The tables pictured in some of the works should be interpreted as having been the scene of familial debates and confrontations. Atop the tables are the symbols of those confrontations – still-life arrangements formed from photographic snippets of animal body parts Nerbonne harvests from actual roadkill.

Does that sound gruesome?

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WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of Nov. 6 to 9

BY MATT HARRISON

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Leslie Hossack, The Wall, Niederkirchner Strasse (detail). Her work is part of the 25 / Berlin exhibition at the Diefenbunker opening this Thursday, Nov. 6.


The Wall Came Tumbling Down

The events of this past’s summer/fall in Ukraine brought to mind a time when there was a definitive east-west divide — symbolized nowhere better than by the Berlin Wall. This iconic barrier came down on Nov. 9, 1989 — 25 years ago. And in remembrance of it and what it symbolized in the context of the Cold War era, the Diefenbunker — a Cold War relic itself — will be hosting 25/Berlin, a trifecta of exhibitions in partnership with the German Embassy: Dictatorship and Democracy in the Age of Extremes: Spotlights on the History of Europe in the Twentieth Century, which features 190 rare photographs, newspaper clippings, and political cartoons from European archives; German Canadian Graffiti Jam: The Bunker Reunion, which — along with Ottawa’s House of Paint— will host a “transatlantic graffiti jam” between Canadian and German graffiti artists; and The Wall, Niederkirchner Strasse, which features an art installation by Ottawa’s Leslie Hossack that simulates a walk along the Berlin Wall today. The exhibitions open on Thursday, Nov. 6 at the bunker; the graffiti jam takes place on Feb. 15, 2015. Admission included with museum entrance fee. More info, visit here.
Diefenbunker is at 3929 Carp Rd., Carp

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School of Photographic Art Open House (FREE!)
If you know not to try and eat a Kodak Brownie; if you know that a Rolloeiflex 120 isn’t an expensive watch; if you don’t get confused between a  Hasselblad and a Hasselhoff, then perhaps the School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa’s Open House is for you.

david-hasselhoff-as-michael-knight-in-knightrider-thumbs-upIn celebration of their 10th anniversary, the school’s open house on Friday Nov. 7 from 3 to 9 p.m. allows visitors to see recent works, to be photographed themselves and purchase a print ($5), and to take part in a Robyn McCallum raffle for this print.
SPAO is at 168 Dalhousie St.

Fairly-Traded Xmas Baking Tips
Halloween just ended, and while there’s still Remembrance Day, American Thanksgiving, and Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day ahead, I’ve already seen ads featuring Santa Claus! Personally, I think it’s far too soon to think about Christmas, but I realize that fighting it is pointless. And so, here’s a shout-out to the Foodie Festival on Friday (Nov. 7), at the Ottawa Mennonite Church, where you can begin your Christmas baking by learning — for FREE! — how to create the perfect swirl atop a gingerbread house, plus other assorted baking techniques. This cooking demonstration, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., is part of Ottawa’s 2014 Fair Trade Festival Sale, a fair trade event happening on Fridays and Saturdays during all of November. Visit here for the full schedule and times.
The Ottawa Mennonite Church is at 1830 Kilborn Ave.

What the Rich Read
Want to find out what Ottawa’s rich are reading? Check out the Rockcliffe Park Book Sale on Friday Nov. 7, Saturday Nov. 8, and Sunday Nov. 9 inside Queen Juliana Hall at the Rockcliffe Park School. This is the park’s 53rd annual sale, so they know what they’re doing. Expect thousands of books, CDs, DVDs, games, crafts, records, etc. Dress up as your favourite comic book character — not sure if this is intended just for kids or includes adults as well. Admission is free.  There will also be a café. More info here.
Rockcliffe Park Public School is at 350 Buena Vista Rd.

Get Your Pottery On
“He’s stuck, that’s what it is. He’s in between worlds. You know it happens sometimes that the spirit gets yanked out so fast that the essence still feels it has work to do here” — Ode Mae Brown, Ghost (1990)
Feelin’ frisky? Maybe this kind of frisky:

Get all Swayze at this weekend’s 260 Fingers pottery exhibition show/sale at the Glebe Community Centre on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Nov. 7 to 9). Admission is free, the pottery is not. Twenty-six (that’s 260 fingers) renowned artists from across Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec are participating. It starts on Friday at 6 p.m.; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. More info and the list of artists, visit here. http://www.260fingers.ca/
Glebe Community Centre is at 690 Lyon St.

 

 

 

THE GIVER: Donate your eyeballs, fulfill a wish list, and switch up your accessories

The Giver is written by Ottawa Mag’s Dee Campbell, who knows that people prefer to volunteer in ways that speak to their interests. Dee has volunteered for the Terry Fox Run since she was a little girl and is a Brownie Leader of 15 years. Do you have a volun-gig needing filled? Email dcampbell@stjosephmedia.com.

 

 

Organ DonationWho Wants My Eyeballs?

Recently I watched my very first episode (and only – ugh!) of The Walking Dead.  I did so from another room because I was afraid to sit near the TV. True story. But, it did make me think about The Giver: More than 85% of Ontarians are in favour of organ and tissue donation but fewer than 25% have registered their consent to donate. What?! Let me make this easy for the 75% of you who are game but forget to register. Click here. Enter your health card number and DOB. Done in < 2 mins.

 

Wishing Well

This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Well, a day program on Elgin Street for women (and women with children). Many of the women served live with poverty, homelessness and risk of homelessness, as well as physical and mental health challenges.  The Well provides a safe environment, supportive services, food, and social/recreational programs. Here are TWO ways to give:

1. Drop off bus tickets, stamps, clothing, stationary, food, etc.  Read the wish list.

2. On Saturday, Nov 15, celebrate the anniversary with a BYOB family-style dinner, silent auction and entertainment. Kick the giving up a notch when you buy a ticket for a woman of The Well. Buy tix here.

 

Jewellery & Food is Good for the Kids

Eva von Jagow shows a sample of jewellery one can buy at her fundraiser

Eva von Jagow shows a sample of jewellery one can buy at her fundraiser

Thousand of gently used handbags and jewellery will be on sale at All That Glam on Saturday, November 29. Launched by first-year university student, Eva von Jagow, 100% of the profits go to fund the Breakfast Club of Canada in Nunavut. Eva was motivated to hold this fundraising event when she discovered that in the Far North, a jar of peanut butter and a head of cabbage cost almost $20. Wowza. The $10,000 raised at last year’s inaugural event has funded a school breakfast program for 250 students in Coral Harbor for 2 years…but the kids still need breakfast!

Time: 8:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.
Location: Richcraft Community Centre in Kanata

Can’t attend but want to donate items? Check her Facebook page for drop-off sites across the city (until Nov 15).

 

Bikes Taking Up Space in the Garage?

Bring in bicycles that you’re no longer using, and Cycle Salvation and RightBike will refurbish the bikes and put them to good use. The program helps people find employment when they’re facing physical and mental health barriers. Cycle Salvation trains and employs people as bike mechanics, while keeping used bikes out of the landfill.

Saturday, November 8 from 10:00 a.m. -4:00 p.m. in the parking lot at 1520 Caldwell Ave.

ARTFUL BLOGGER: Fabrizio returns as midwest Comet

BY PAUL GESSELL

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Poster for Fabrizio’s Comet, an adaptation of Mark Frutkin’s award-winning novel into an opera by James McKeel

Ottawa author Mark Frutkin returned home from vacation two years ago this past August to be confronted by a surprising email. A professor of music and lyric theatre, James McKeel, from a liberal arts school, St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, was asking Frutkin’s permission to turn his 2006 fable-like novel Fabrizio’s Return into an opera.

Fabrizio’s Return won the Trillium Award, as the best fiction book in Ontario the year it was published. The story is a magical tale of a remarkable violin, religion, alchemy, forbidden love, and a troupe of commedia dell’arte actors in 17th and 18th century Italy. And now Fabrizio has returned in a most unexpected way after Frutkin consented to McKeel’s request.

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Making the magic: co-collaborators James McKeel (left) and Mark Frutkin (right).

“Of course I agreed,” says Frutkin. “He (McKeel) worked on it for over two years, including through his sabbatical year. I was officially co-librettist but the work is really his. He would send me music clips (electronic facsimiles) and portions of the libretto as he finished them and I would comment and suggest. So he adapted the novel, scripted it, and wrote all the music for orchestra and voice, and directed. A real Renaissance man!”

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A performance of Fabrizio’s Comet by students at St. Olaf College. The play is an operetta based on the book Fabrizio’s Return by Ottawa author Mark Frutkin. Photo: St. Olaf College

The result was Fabrizio’s Comet, an operetta, performed Oct. 16-18 at St. Olaf College. Now Fabrizio is about to hit the road. Fourteen cast members, along with their costumes, masks, props, set pieces and pianist will perform excerpts at some schools in the Northfield area, including Sibley Elementary Nov. 6 and Prairie Creek Nov. 13.

But that is not the end of Fabrizio. McKeel has even bigger plans than school performances.

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One of the student actors performing in Fabrizio’s Comet at St. Olaf College. The play is an operetta based on the book Fabrizio’s Return by Ottawa author Mark Frutkin. Photo: St. Olaf College

“This one feels special and I’d like to work with Mark to improve it and promote it to other colleges and professional companies,” says McKeel. “Seeing it done with our limited resources gave me a taste for the possibilities with a bigger budget for set, costumes, lighting, effects etc.”

McKeel is no amateur. A baritone, he has sung more than 70 roles with opera companies and festivals in the U.S. and England. Performances range from The Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro, to La Boheme and Carmen. His list of artistic collaborators include Philip Glass and David Hockney. An avid composer, McKeel has written more than 60 operas, operettas, musicals, choral works, arts songs and song cycles, which have received commissions, grants, and premieres from such organizations as the Kennedy Center and Minnesota Opera.

Frutkin and his wife, Faith Seltzer, attended all three performances of the operetta in Northfield.

“The music is absolutely first-rate, the acting was pretty good for student actors, the singing was generally excellent,” says Frutkin. “A live orchestra makes for a fabulous sound. Access to the streaming is up now on the St Olaf home page.”

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A student actress performing in Fabrizio’s Comet at St. Olaf College. The play is an operetta based on the book Fabrizio’s Return by Ottawa author Mark Frutkin. Photo: St. Olaf College

The tunes are “extremely catching and lovely,” says Frutkin. “They’re still running through my head.”

Frutkin was astounded that McKeel had even learned of the novel Fabrizio’s Return because the book was not published in the United States. McKeel can’t remember how he came to buy the book.

“It was either online or at a local bookstore,” McKeel said in an interview. “And I just happened to read the synopsis, and the characters, plot, and commedia troupe screamed for some sort of musical treatment. Mark is such a poetic and sensitive and engaging writer that tunes and lyrics kept springing to mind as I read the book. I then took a chance and emailed Mark about the possibility of setting his novel and he said that he loved music and opera and was enthused to have it set to music. Off we went!”

 

SOUND SEEKERS: Rotter’s Club Nee’wollah Revival

BY FATEEMA SAYANI

Winston Smith

Winston Smith. “Soma Holiday” appears on the Rotters Club 35th anniversary CD, released on Nee’wollah (Halloween) at Zaphod’s.

Three-and-a-half decades ago, Ottawa punk sounded like this — that’s the Reverbnation link to a 1979 compilation album called Rot ’n’ Role, which features such bands of the era as the Bureaucrats, Vendetta, and Winston Smith.

Originally pressed on vinyl on a limited run of 500 copies, Rot ‘n’ Role has been remastered with six new tunes and is being reissued as a limited edition CD on Friday at Nee’wollah, a celebration of the ‘70s-era Rotters Club. Nee’wollah (that’s Halloween backwards) was an annual theme night at the club, which stood at the corner of Bank and Frank Streets from 1977-1980, and later moved down the street beside Barrymore’s, where it became — under the same ownership — The Eighties Club.

The anniversary party happens on Friday, Oct. 31 at Zaphod’s with a host of players from the era. Ted Axe of The Action brings his band Sister Hyde to stage, and comedian Mike MacDonald — a former Rotters Club playbill regular — will MC the event. Blackshirt Highwaymen — featuring Rotters Club co-founder Carl Schultz — and Arson are also on the bill. Tickets are $35 and include a swag bag.

At the show, expect an audio tour of the punk scene of the era along with a collection of archival footage and photos from the day, some of which appear here, below.

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WEEKENDER: Lots to ghoul on Halloween Weekend

BY MATT HARRISON

Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me

A still image from the Twin Peak’s film Fire Walk With Me, courtesy of New Line Cinema

Twin Peaks Art Show FREE
It’s 25 years later. Dale Cooper is old, sitting inside the Black Lodge, confusedly watching a dancing midget and a backwards-speaking Laura Palmer.
After years of rumors, it was recently announced that Twin Peaks, which first aired in 1990, will return in 2016. For anyone counting, 25 years later is 2015 not 2016, but it’s close enough (poor Dale will be trapped in the Black Lodge for one more year).
Perhaps connected to this much-anticipated (by fans) news, there’s a Twin Peaks-themed art show this Thursday, Oct. 30 at Victoire — that’s the clothing shop on Wellington St. W. Fifteen local artists are participating in the show, plus expect cherry pie (“Where pies go when they die”) and coffee (“Black as midnight on a moonless night”) and the odd fan — I’m guessing — dressed up as their favourite character. It’s a free event, from 7 to 11 p.m. This is an event that is part of Support Local Month.
Victoire is at 1282 Wellington St. W.

1950s-60s Ottawa Films FREE
You’ve heard him on CBC’s Ottawa Morning doing film reviews; maybe you’ve even attended a Canadian Film Institute

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REASON TO LOVE OTTAWA: Because a forest in Nepean is a national hub for connecting kids with nature

This article was originally published in the October 2014 print edition of Ottawa Magazine.

By MATT HARRISON

Photo by Rémi Thériault

Photo by Rémi Thériault

Tell someone that your child’s school is in a forest, and you’ll likely get some strange looks — as well as a string of questions: “What do the kids do all day?” “Are kids outside in the winter?” “Is it safe?”

Marlene Power, founder of Carp Ridge Forest Pre-School and the visionary behind the headquarters for Forest School Canada, has heard them all. Mostly, parents’ initial reaction is “That’s so cool.” But there’s also skepticism. A school in the forest? Year-round? In Canadian winters?

That’s because we have become accustomed to a school having four walls. But ever since Power read Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, she has been determined to help children reconnect with nature. She began in 2008 by creating the Carp Ridge Forest Pre-School. After two years, she was ready to expand her vision. In her search for a natural setting closer to the city, she found the Wesley Clover Parks, the Terry Matthews venture located at the former home of the Nepean National Equestrian Park.

At the new space, she is setting up Forest School Canada, a 600-acre outdoor learning centre for children “to build ongoing relationships with nature.”

“Nature becomes the classroom — a room that’s ever-changing, depending on the season,” Power explains. “A fallen tree could result in imaginary play. Learning can be built upon with science experiments, storytelling, or ‘loose parts’ — sticks, rocks, pine needles, whatever they find. The key piece is that kids lead the learning process.” 

That requires educators who know when to offer insight into the learning process and, more importantly, when to stay out of the way.

Forest School Canada will also allow Power to train outdoor educators looking to start similar schools elsewhere in the country, as well as teachers with public school boards. In that sense, Power is creating not just an outdoor school for children but also a hub for a new form of education in Canada. 

ARTFUL BLOGGER: The horror show that was Kingston Pen

BY PAUL GESSELL

2_The Dome from above

The Dome from Above, 2013. Photo by Geoffrey James

The late Roger Caron became one of the most famous inmates of Kingston Penitentiary and not because he was a macabre serial killer like other residents such as Clifford Olson, Russell Williams, and Paul Bernardo.

Instead, Caron was a serial robber. But he was also a writer and won the Governor General’s Award for Non-fiction in 1978 for Go Boy: Memoirs of A Life Behind Bars. In the book, Caron describes his first impressions of Kingston Penitentiary, which closed in September 30, 2013.

“Kingston Penitentiary seen through a winter blizzard was enough to strike terror into the bravest heart,” Caron wrote. “Nine acres of cement and steel perched on the very banks of Lake Ontario and buffeted by a bitter and howling wind blowing off the frozen lake. It had the appearance of a fortress: high, gray walls all around; and tall guard towers commanding each corner of the wall. Seated within, on high stools and cradling high-powered rifles, were the blue-uniformed sentinels with license to kill and maim.”

Cell decorated with Harley Davidson, 2013. Photo by Geoffrey James

Cell decorated with Harley Davidson, 2013. Photo by Geoffrey James

Caron’s description is apt, according to a new book of hard-edged photographs taken by celebrated Toronto photo-artist Geoffrey James during the last months the federal institution was operating. The book, Inside Kingston Penitentiary: 1835-2013, from Black Dog Publishing, is filled with dozens of gritty, depressing, and very revealing photos of the architecture, inmates and guards of this infamous place. An exhibition of those photographs continues at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston until Dec. 7.

“I first entered KP at the tail end of its life,” James writes in his book of photographs. “Slated to close after being in operation for 178 years, it was a world that I wanted to experience and document before the prisoners were transferred.”

Recently vacated cell, 2013. Photo by Geoffrey James

Recently vacated cell, 2013. Photo by Geoffrey James

James admits he was ill-prepared for the experience, his knowledge of prison based on often inaccurate Hollywood portrayals of life behind bars. But James soon figured out the place. The hopelessness of KP is found in his shots of mournful prisoner graffiti, groups of joyless prisoners idling, not just for a moment, but for lifetimes, and the old stone architecture that is the stuff of nightmares and horror movies.

The one hopeful area James found was an outdoor compound containing a teepee and a native sweat lodge.

“It is the sacred ground of the Native Brotherhood,” James writes. “There are sweats every month and quarterly changing of the season ceremonies. I attended two of the ceremonies and they were a ray of light in a bleak landscape.”

A “ray of light” perhaps, but not brilliant sunshine. The photographs of the Aboriginal men in their rituals still seem drenched in despair.

The book and photographs by James have created an important documentary record of life in Canada’s oldest and most infamous prison. It’s the kind of book that should have been shown to Roger Caron as a teenager — it just might have dissuaded him from embarking upon a life of crime.

Geoffrey James: Inside Kingston Penitentiary is at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston until Dec. 7.

Exercise yard, 2013. Photo by Geoffrey James

Exercise yard, 2013. Photo by Geoffrey James