Kingston Penitentiary strapping bench

The former maximum security prison Kingston Penitentiary in Kingston, Ontario, Canada was closed in 2013. Located directly across from Kingston Penitentiary is the "Correctional Service of Canada Museum" (also known as "Canada's Penitentiary Museum" or "Kingston Penitentiary Museum"). The museum has a strapping bench on display that was used for the judicial corporal punishment of prisoners. It was in use from circa 1903 until circa 1969. It was also referred to as a strapping table, or a paddling table in other institutions.

A similar strapping bench from Dorchester Penitentiary is displayed in Keillor House Museum in Dorchester, New Brunswick.


The Kingston Penitentiary strapping bench is kind of cross-over between a 19th century whipping bench or whipping table, a 20th century massage table, and a BDSM-style bondage table or spanking bench. It is a piece of spanking furniture with a special substructure that allowed to adjust the bench in height, a padded top, and restraints in various places.

The delinquent inmate would be strapped in a half-standing position. He was made to stand at the foot end of the bench, where his feet were restrained in shackles. The bench was adjusted to match his height. Then he was made to bend over and place his upper body flat on the bench. Straps at the other end were used to fasten his hands, and finally a wide strap would be tied around his lower back to hold him securely down to the bench. After being thus restrained, the inmate was blindfolded so they would not be able to see the person who was administering the chastisement.

The punishment was given with a heavy leather strap — which the wardens also called a "paddle" — on the bare buttocks. The strap used was described as "a piece of sole leather 16 inches long by 2½ inches wide, with a leather handle which is approximately 10 inches long. In the body of the strap there are 8 holes of approximately one-quarter inch diameter, spread at even intervals." The number of lashes would be determined by the seriousness of their crime (such as incitement to mutiny, or gross personal violence).

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