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 superss
superss True!
Aug 22 2013
avatar of f.o.s.
f.o.s. Someone like yourself superss?? Camera be damned, all you need is a set of peepers and call it a day!
Aug 22 2013
avatar of superss
superss After almost a lifetime of driving all over hell's half acres for lacrosse & hockey I have become a little less excited of long drives, but this location really looks worth it, even for someone like myself, that is not a photographer.
Aug 22 2013
avatar of doom vs
doom vs I lugged in two boxers for a day trip Sunday...missed you by hours lol.
Aug 06 2013
unknown user avatar
Unknown User but you'd need rubber boots if u wanted to explore the basement (and a flashlight) Overall excellent experience and I would definitely go back - maybe take a bicycle along next time. Didn't get a chance to check out the house behind prison (wardens house??) or cemetery. But, will do next time.
Jul 02 2013
unknown user avatar
Unknown User parking lot. (didn't know there was a limit to the comments) Wouldn't risk trying to get a vehicle over those tracks. A lot of bugs on the walk in and had to take our shoes off for one water crossing. Weird things happened to each person in our group of 8. Met a lady from Sudbury who said DO NOT do into the tunnel in the boiler room as it is "EVIL." We walked in a few steps to take some pictures
Jul 02 2013
unknown user avatar
Unknown User Went to the prison this past weekend. Could not 4x4 our vehicles in as they've made a bigger ditch. Talked with a Jeep owner who made it to the prison and he said he WINCHED his truck up using the tracks. Made me feel a little sick after he told us that and not because we walked in an hour and a half but because its an active track (double set) and we had 2 trains come by while we were at the par
Jul 02 2013
avatar of mike6639
mike6639 Made a short video of pics from my few trips here....finally learned how to upload to youtube. It's my first try at making a video:
Jun 26 2013
avatar of chiller
chiller Damn, I really want to see this place. Nice shots everyone.
Jul 04 2012
avatar of Derelict Compositions
Derelict Compositions Thanks Phrenzee!
Jun 05 2012
avatar of two.minutes
two.minutes Everyone says to get there by 4X4 ...maybe there is something I don't know or another way in? When I went last fall (during hunting season) the road had been dug out at the train tracks... two trenches so deep (5 ft deep) that my Jeep would not have been able to get through... from there is a couple km walk... Is there a better way in or is it just the way it is now?
Apr 22 2012
avatar of shogun
shogun Went there for a day hike with my wife and son last weekend. We walked it and my little guy kept up lol.....once we got there we seen how badly he building is falling apart. We really wanted to get a pic of the three of us on the Camp Bision sign, but to are surprise it had been destroyed....other than that it was still pretty exciting to see the old history. Watch were you walk because there are
Apr 17 2012
avatar of sQualie
sQualie Here are the GPS coordinates to the cemetary 46.234812,-80.852854. When you're there, you'll see an old dirt road that branches off towards the cemetary, just drive in as much as you can and walk the rest of the way (about 10-15mins). As for time of year, I say fall is the best simply because there are less bugs.
Jan 13 2012
avatar of that-girl
that-girl I can't wait to become a full member to scope out some of the full member locations to enjoy the history of them! Random question I know, but for the most part I'm assuming summer time exploring is best for the majority of these locations no? Due to flooding/ice/snow...
Jan 07 2012
avatar of sQualie
sQualie I can send you a google maps like to the cemetary and map it out for you when I get home later tonight. I'll send you a pm.
Jan 07 2012