Port Arthur Historic Site

Status: Former Prison; Heritage Site and Museum


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Opened in 1849 in the Port Arthur Prison Complex – where the worst of the worst were sent – the Separate Prison was based on a Quaker principal that relied on silence and isolation to control the minds of the men imprisoned here.

The idea behind the prison was that physical punishment just made a man harder but if he was left completely isolated with his thoughts, he could contemplate his sin and redeem his soul. Every new arrival to the prison was forced to spend between 4 and 12 months here.

Even the smallest transgression here was met with brutal punishment. You were locked in total darkness and silence, fed only bread and water, and only allowed 1 hour of exercise every 3 days.

A normal prisoner was kept in a small cell and only allowed to speak to the staff when necessary, dressed in slippers and walked on a padded floor so no noise could be heard and apart from chapel – in which he was always supervised by 4 guards – was only allowed 1 hour a day for exercise alone in the yard. Otherwise, he was alone in his cell being constantly checked on by guards through a peephole.


Paranormal Activity

While the entire complex – containing an insane asylum and main penitentiary along with many other buildings – is reputed to be haunted with disembodied voices, phantom footsteps and apparitions of former staff and prisoners the Separate Prison is known for being especially active.

This may be due that despite the jailer’s best intentions the solitary form of punishment here did more to destroy a man’s sanity than rehabilitate anyone.

The apparitions of hooded prisoners – dressed as they were while locked up in here – are frequently seen after dark here. A feeling of intense anger permeates this building and has left many people unable to even enter it. There are also numerous accounts of people being touched and even scratched by unseen entities inside the building.

The former asylum is the second most active building with the apparitions of an old lady and a young girl being seen within its walls, many accounts of phantom footsteps and light fixtures that move on their own.

On the entire site people report the Blue Lady who is said to have died here during childbirth. A priest is also seen wandering the site as well as the ghosts of children, faces without bodies and shadow figures.