The Huron County Museum’s latest book unlocks secret stories from the Huron Historic Gaol

July 5, 2021

Huron County, Ontario – The Huron County Museum & Historic Gaol is pleased to announce the publication of its newest book, Prisoner Profiles: Unlocking the Secret Stories from the Huron Historic Gaol.

Prisoner Profiles takes a deeper look into the stories that are not often told from the Huron Gaol, with a particular focus on the inmates from the mid-1800s to early 1900s. These fascinating, tragic and occasionally absurd stories provide powerful insight into the social and municipal history of Huron County, and highlight a time before hospitals, long-term care homes and mental health facilities were built to properly care for those in need.

The book shares a combination of in-depth stories and shorter profiles of inmates housed at the Huron Gaol, including:

  • Ephraim Taylor, a Black farmer and pioneer of the Wilberforce Colony who spent one day in the Gaol for debt in 1851.
  • Moses Madwayosh, an Anishinaabe man who served as an interpreter at an inquest while awaiting his own trial.
  • William Lee, the ‘Jolly Tar’ from the HMS Cherub, who spent more time in the Huron Gaol than aboard the Cherub while it was docked in Goderich Harbour.
  • Mary Brady, whose only crime was one of poverty.
  • Maud Hamilton, the ‘Lioness’ of Goderich, who became the target of local media for her ‘den of evil’.
  • May Gibson, who had been committed six times to three different correctional institutions before the age of 18.

“The process of writing this book was surprising, joyful and sad.  It demonstrated the diversity and the humanity of the inmates’ stories,” said Acting Senior Curator Sinead Cox, author of the book. “The Gaol today is a physical artifact and archive that allows us to remember these prisoners and imagine their lives in a more tangible and visceral way.”

Books are now available for purchase through the Museum Gift Shop for curbside pickup while the Museum and Historic Gaol remain closed to the public. To order a copy, call the Museum at 519-524-2686 or email and staff will arrange a time for pickup and payment.


For more information contact:

Glen McNeil, Warden
519.524.8394 (ext 3224)