The Inside-Out Prison

The Story of Beaver Creek Minimum Security Institution

The Inside-Out Prison
by Charles Stickel



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Author Charles Stickel’s memoir of a pioneering Canadian penal institution, the Beaver Creek Minimum Security facility in Muskoka, is aptly named “the inside-out” prison. The guards were unarmed, the fences kept people from straying in rather than inmates escaping – or almost!

The value of this book, in the wide-ranging library of works about jails and prisons of all types in Canada over the decades, is its mixture of framework policies for penitentiaries, the operational procedures, and a wide variety of human experiences for those on the inside and their minders.

This bold, low-cost “correctional experiment” in Muskoka was launched in 1961 by the Diefenbaker Progressive Conservative Government to make Canadians safer while fitting the institution to the type of convict whose freedom was being restrained for the time of his sentence for non-violent crimes. Begun as “Beaver Creek Correctional Camp,” a name seemingly suited to Muskoka’s far-flung reputation as an ideal setting for summer camps, the place evolved into “Beaver Creek Institution” in the steps recounted by Stickel, who twice in his career with Corrections Canada was front and centre. As warden, he saw it all, and helped shaped its role in the lives of those connected with the facility – including the role of prisoners in the local community.

At the helm at Beaver Creek as the concept of “minimum security” took shape in practical terms, coming to house more than 200 prisoners, some 30 percent of whom are lifers, Charles Stickel reveals how prison staff, Muskoka community residents, and volunteers gave inmates opportunities to change their lives.


“Charles Stickel captures the colourful dynamics. The Inside-Out Prison, peppered with humour, illustrates how a small number of staff effectively controlled a large number of inmates in a caring, practical, and meaningful way. A must-read for those contemplating a career in corrections, and an easy, enjoyable read for others with insights into the role a minimum-security institution can play returning offenders successfully to the community.” – Oliver Doyle, professor, Sir Sanford Fleming College

“Detailed and thorough, The Inside-Out Prison brings to light an often-forgotten period of correctional innovation when minimum-security camps like Beaver Creek were opened, far removed from the old walled penitentiaries that typify prisons to most Canadians. It is refreshing to read a book about a prison that focuses not on notoriety, escapes, and violence, but on the difficult work, perseverance, trust, and community support that made Beaver Creek unique.” – Cameron Willis, Operations Supervisor, Canada’s Penitentiary Museum

Author Information

Charles Stickel


Publisher: Epic Press, 2020

Cateogry: Memoir, Prison History, Corrections

ISBN: 9781460011249

Price: $20.00 CDN

Format: Softcover, 208 pages, photographs, 5¼ x 8 in