Rae Gateley

Rae Gateley started with Correctional Service Canada as a Hospital Officer - specifically a psych nurse - in 1978. Her career spanned more than four decades, including service at the Prison for Women, Joyceville Institution, Frontenac Institution, the Correctional Staff College and Kingston Penitentiary, where she stayed until her retirement in 2001. When federal regulations changed in 1980 to women to become Correctional Officers in male institutions, she was one of the first to do so. Rae returned to Kingston Penitentiary this summer to guide visitors through the 178-year-old facility, an experience she told Stories of Kingston “felt like coming home.”
What part of Kingston Penitentiary’s history fascinates you?
I find every phase of Kingston Pen’s history of transition over the years to be fascinating. I recall the structural changes when the ECB (East Cell Block, psych centre) was transformed from a regular cell block to what eventually became the Regional Treatment Centre. This was a really valuable asset to the rehabilitation process available to inmates with mental health or addiction issues.
Do you have a memorable experience from your time working at Kingston Penitentiary?
While I was Supervisor of Visiting and Correspondence, I was able to improve the experiences of inmates and encourage a more positive approach to interaction with their families. Working with a community group of dedicated volunteers, we created an area for young children to play and interact while visiting their parent in prison and provided appropriate books and toys for the Private Family Visiting units.
How does it feel to be back?
It is like a nostalgic trip back in time: remembering the building itself, the co-workers that I shared so much with, memories of things and people that few people will ever know. I guess you could say it feels great.