Latlng: (46.220405, -80.907104)

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Burwash Correctional Prison

Discovered by TWP
Created Mar 26 2009
Recent status Unknown
Category Correctional
City Burwash, Ontario
Location # 591

Burwash Prison was located along Highway 69. Once fully constructed, the site had the ability to house 1000 inmates but never reached full capacity.

Burwash was a completely self-sufficient town which contained a 20-bed hospital, church, school, staff townsite, power station, post office, blacksmith, tailor shop, skating rink, cemetery, hospital, barbershop and church.

[u]The beginning[/u]

On September 14, 1914, the Ontario Government passed an Order in Council to establish the Burwash Industrial Farm. Four days later, the new Superintendant Clarance Fletcher Neelands, Sgt. Norman Sydney Oliver and nine inmates arrived at the Burwash Station. They set up camp and soon thereafter began constructing the first permanent building known as Camp Spruce.

In 1914 construction commenced on the 35,000 acres of land and by the end of the same year, 150 prisoners serving sentences of two years or less were transferred to Burwash.

With the First World War, came the recession. With recession came crime. The population of inmates grew to 180.

By 1915, a small log camp had been built on the banks of the Wanapitei River and by fall, work had begun on the main camp. It was completed on January 31, 1916.

Until the construction of the cell blocks, prisoners lived in the dormitory located within the townsite.


The population continued to grow as the Guelph Reformatory was turned into a veteran's hospital and rehabilitation center. The 200 prisoners were transferred to Burwash. Burwash's population grew to over 350 men.

By 1917, a steam-powered sawmill (on Mill Lake), shingle, and 'sticker' mill were in operations. The mill produced one million feet of lumber at its peak, annually.

During the 1920's when the Christmas season arrived, the Salvation Army organized people to sing Christmas carols to the inmates.

Travel to Burwash was primarily by train as there were no roads leading to the site.

In 1933, a road built by the inmates connected the Wanapitei River with Estaire. This road now connected Burwash with other roads to Wanup, Sudbury, and Coniston. Burwash was no longer a remote isolated area. In a few years, cars were making it possible for people to visit Burwash and for staff to go shopping in Sudbury.

Once the Trans Canada Highway was built, prisoner escape attempts became more frequent and signs were posted along the highway instructing motorists not to pick up hitchhikers.

[u]Camp Bison[/u]

The new $2.6 million Camp Bison was officially opened in a ceremony on June 8, 1960. It accommodated 210 inmates. The name of the camp originated from the numerous wildlife that had been known to roam the property.

[u]The End[/u]

On July 10, 1974, Ontario Minister of Correctional Services, Richard T. Potter, announced that the Burwash Correctional Centre would close. The cost to run Burwash was deemed too high, outdated equipment would be costly to replace and Burwash's closure would save the provincial government money.

The last day of operation was February 13, 1975. Residents of the estimated 175 townsite houses were told they would have to vacate their homes. Some residences took their homes with them - literally.

In 1977, a Steering Committee was established by the Ontario Government to recommend possible uses for the remaining prison complex and the 35,000 acres of land. This led to the Federal Government purchased the property in October for $1.8 million dollars.

In July of 1979, the land was leased to the Regional Municipality of Sudbury for a goat farming operation to produce mohair.

In 1990 the government bid on 8000 acres of land to be used for military training. Some of this training involved using explosives to destroy some of the townsite's homes.


Any buildings left on the site were bulldozed by the government in 1994.

An Ontario Heritage Trust plaque was unveiled at the site on August 6, 2006. Around 2007 the cemetery, overgrown and difficult to find, was cleaned up and a sign posted to mark its location. There are an estimated 12-20 prisoners buried here many of whom had no family to bury them properly.

Parts of Burwash are still used by the Department of National Defense for training purposes.

Directions: If you continue straight from the fork in the road you eventually end up at the railway tracks and a small railway building. Across from the tracks is an old gate and a path that leads to Camp Bison. The walk is approx 3.5 miles, but can be accessed by 4x4.

Update: If you want to visit this location message the owner, very friendly guy and welcome's people to explore for a small fee..

NEW UPDATE - 24 August. 2020 - This location Now has a new owner. His name is Chris. You can still go and explore this site for a small fee. It is so worth it, as it is really, really interesting. The owners run a Resort close to this location. Here is there contact information. (Avalon Eco Resort) Web site Address and Phone. Avalon Eco Resort 476 Highway 637 Killarney, ON P0M 2A0 (249)-805-0159

Latlng: (46.220405, -80.907104)


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avatar of Kinger33pfr
Kinger33pfr NEW UPDATE - 24 August. 2020 - This location Now has a new owner. His name is Chris. You can still go and explore this site for a small fee. It is so worth it, as it is really, really interesting. The owners run a Resort close to this location. Here is there contact information. (Avalon Eco Resort) Web site Address and Phone. Avalon Eco Resort 476 Highway 637 Killarney, ON P0M 2A0 (249)-805-0159
Aug 24 2020
avatar of PinkDolphin
PinkDolphin Do you still need permission to explore here? I tried to click on the link for the food mission, but it took me to a dead site. I will be in this area next weekend, and would LOVE to check it out!
Jul 27 2020
unknown user avatar
Unknown User I have some history and photographs documenting this abandoned site It is amazing the history of Burwash surpassing 100 years!
Aug 01 2019
avatar of aeb00
aeb00 His name is Ben. Haha. He's nice I guess.
Jul 06 2016
avatar of aeb00
aeb00 He gave us the option to take his guided tour or to wander on our own... I imagine he gets pretty excited when people stop in lol.
Jul 06 2016
avatar of aeb00
aeb00 Yeahhh. He had a tent on the roof, his dog, a garden, and his entire wardrobe and furniture in one corner of the prison lol.
Jul 06 2016
unknown user avatar
Unknown User I could see someone living in a trailer at the start of the hike in, but living in the prison??
Jul 06 2016
avatar of aeb00
aeb00 The owner has hired a man to live here and start making people sign waivers and give donations to help them restore the property. Kinda weird.
Jul 05 2016
avatar of verfolger71
verfolger71 was in burwash the military part in the early 90's. the left over building were perfect for urban combat training. how to take a building that is defended
Feb 01 2016
avatar of Ian85
Ian85 How bad is the road to get in there. I am planning on being in the Sudbury area last week of July and would go explore the place. I have a AWD Durango, you think I could go in or I'd have to walk.
Jun 06 2015
avatar of Ottawaguy
Ottawaguy Awesome! Thanks for the advice, OAP.
May 29 2015
unknown user avatar
Unknown User You can do it in a day if you're in the area. It's about an hour hike in.
May 28 2015
avatar of Ottawaguy
Ottawaguy Planning on checking this out over the summer. Is it possible to do this in a half day from Sudbury or is it something that really requires an overnight camping trip? Thanks for your advice!
May 25 2015
avatar of Asher Deist
Asher Deist Camping there is such a cool idea. I tried walking there on foot (Yes willing to walk about 8k) but the last bend was flooded from the small lake. For those that are local/frequent, is it normally flooded or usually dry?
Jul 27 2014
avatar of chiller
chiller Great posts everyone. Thinking of making the trip up in the next few weeks.
Sep 08 2013