Kennedy Dentention Centre

The Kennedy Dentention Centre, also known previously as the St. John's Training School for Boys is located just outside the quaint, sleepy town of Uxbridge, Ontario. It's peaceful, pastoral setting sits in stark contrast to the horrors which took place within its walls.

This place may be somewhat spooky to the Urban Explorer who may have researched the history of the facility before the physical exploration. To this end, we present an entertaining and somewhat spooky video . . .

The St. John's Training School for Boys opened in 1956 and was operated by the (Catholic) lay order of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, which also operated a similar facility in Alfred (known as 'St. Joseph's, just outside of Ottawa).

Funded in large part by the province of Ontario, this facility housed orphans, truants, Children’s Aid Society referrals, juvenile delinquents, physically and perceptually challenged children, "incorrigibles" from reservation schools, and children of broken or poor homes which could not adequately support them. Both the Alfred and Uxbridge facilities were supervised by the Province.

In the late 1970's, St. Jospeh's closed its doors but the Province took over operation of the Uxbridge location making it a highly secure facility for young offenders until it was privatized under the Mike Harris regime. The Kennedy House Youth Services was awarded the contract in July, 2000.

More than 1,200 former residents of St. John's and St. Joseph's, suffered neglect and in some cases physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers from the 1940s to the 1970s. A sweeping OPP investigation resulted in more than 200 charges against more than 30 people. The Catholic Church and the Christian Brothers later signed a $23-million reconciliation agreement and in 2004 the Ontario government formally apologized to the sexually and physically abused former residents. Charges ranged from "assault causing bodily harm" to "indecent assault" and "sodomy".

The Chapel within the main building was almost devoid of light (read: black as Hades). The empty and overturn pews, the large crucifix, and the facility history made this area of the abandonment a bit creepy.

The Exploration

As most of the windows are tightly boarded, headlamps, flashlights and camera tripods are a necessity. The very low lighting conditions found within the interior also require cameras capable of taking longer exposures.

I was not altogether happy with the results of my photographic endeavours which simply means another return trip to this massive facility.

To say the secure lockup areas and spartan cells were less than cheery would be a gross overstatement. Although I am certain that you would have to be quite the bad-a$$ to find oneself a resident of such a facility as this, I am not convinced that every '
incorrigible' warranted a cell such as these.

The main building has an abundance of seemingly endless corridors flanked by countless rooms. I would suggest to the novice explorer that you take pains not to get turned around and possibly miss some of the more interesting rooms during your tour.

A large number of the rooms and workshops / classrooms exhibit a distressing lack of any decent taste in interior decorating. I strongly suspect that most of the wall paper and floor rugs (yes - even some shag carpeting) were 'end-of-the-roll' and discontinued product. Fugly-a$$ cr@p like this is discontinued for a reason you know . . .

Prior to this excursion, I touched base with respected fellow-explorer 'Boffo', who had just visited a month earlier. He had captured a very nice image of these clothes dryers which I found was a hard act to follow . . . Here is my attempt.

The industrial-sized kitchens at the Centre is appropriate to nature and scale of a 100-bed detention facility. I imagine that every meal prepared here was made with love. I also imagine that staff ensured that all cutlery were accounted for after each meal.

If washrooms happen to be thing, make haste to this place. One cannot swing a cat and not hit one (not that I believe cat swinging is an acceptable activity). Within the open-custody areas, each room was equipped with a sink and shared a toilet and shower with the adjacent room. In the secure detention areas, occupants of each of the nine cells were allowed out by the guard to the common washroom.

Washrooms and shower rooms in other parts of the facility were equipped with strange and rare accoutrement and fixtures such as 'ball-and-socket' clothing hooks (?wtf?) and these very cool wash basins. I am not certain what possessed staff to box in the drains under the urinals - perhaps the residents were scavenging piping for some evil purpose.

And the reason you scrolled all the way down here . . .
the 'Money Shot'
. . . no exploration is quite complete without one.


Innisfil Heights Marche

The Innisfil Marché as it was in 2006.
Located just off Highway 400, this unique log structure has seen more failed businesses than some South American banana republics seen military coups. The last business to occupy this space was the much-lauded Innisfil Heights Marché Restaurant, which opened in September, 2005 and mysteriously shut its doors sometime in the summer of 2007.

Some additional images of the Marché 'back in the day'.

Professional chef couple Jörg and Marianne Reichert, best known for the Mövenpick Marchés in Toronto, opened up this 14,000 square-foot – two-story - log house with seating for 300 just off Innisfil Beach Road, minutes away from Georgian Downs (Racetrack and Slots) and the 400 flea market. The building also boasted 2,500 sq.ft. retail shop that offered everything from gifts and magazines to European chocolate, ham, breads and cheeses.

Not much has changed in terms of the appearance of the building and grounds since the abrupt closure.

Reichert's also furnished the restaurant with unique custom-made fixtures and furniture which had been imported from Spain, Switzerland, France, Holland and Germany and is reported to be worth approximately 6 million Dollars.

A 180 seat patio and balcony seats were also available to dinners, weather permitting.

Reichert's location of the restaurant was thought to be ideal for the target market they were after; the thousands of travelers that used Highway 400 to travel from Toronto to get to the cottage in the Muskokas or to go skiing at Horseshoe Valley or Blue Mountain. As owners also employed approximately 100 staff, this business venture was very well welcomed by the Innisfil municipal department of economic development.

The sign just outside the main entrance detailed the Marché master plan which called for a petting zoo . . . very handy if the butcher delivery was late.

The Reicherts planned, among many other things, a petting zoo, outside playgrounds, beer garden, picnic drive-through, a drive up banking machine and a gas station.

Restaurant Apocalypse & Ghost Guests

When I had a peek in the window, I was rather surprised to find that even after several months of closure, all the tables were set to receive dinner guests. As this seriously sketched me out, I did not attempt to determine a P.O.E. during this initial location scout.

From my view outside, I could see through the windows that the coolers were still plugged in and contained beverages. Dinnerware was stacked at the ready to be filled with food and packaged European delicacies were ready for purchase.

The restaurant's web page is off line and it's telephone has been disconnected. Those whom I've asked are not sure when or why the business closed and I am unable to bump into any previous employees.

One theory I have heard is that Richtree Markets, who own Canadian chains of the Movenpick,
Marché and Marchelino restaurants had a nasty falling out with its founders, Jörg and Marianne Reichert. There were several lawsuits flying but this was settled even before the Reichert's opened up the Innisfil Marché market restaurant. The theory is that one of the lawsuits reanimated from the dead (appropriate for this post-Halloween post) and bit them.

This still does not explain why the assets have not been liquidated and that the restaurant still appears as if the staff just set up for the next dinner guests.

Post a comment here if you are in the know . . .