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Ontario retiree purchases historic Dorchester prison

Bill Steele is all smiles as he stands in front of the former Dorchester prison, which he recently purchased from long-time owner Andy Partridge.
Bill Steele is all smiles as he stands in front of the former Dorchester prison, which he recently purchased from long-time owner Andy Partridge.

DORCHESTER, N.B. – After 29 years working as a Toronto transfer station operator, 50-year-old Bill Steele was ready to retire in style.  

In preparation, he lost 40 pounds and searched all over for a piece of unique real estate where he could enjoy the rest of his life.

He searched for abandoned airplanes, nuclear facilities and even hoped for the ghost buster’s headquarters.

“I wanted something no one else has done. Something unusual.”

For 18 years Andy Partridge owned a decommissioned jailhouse located in Dorchester, N.B. After two years on the market, Steele purchased it and will move in on June first.

The building has been more or less closed for 20 years but still has 13 cells, a yard surrounded by barbed wire fence, a small apartment where Steele will live, and a gym used by community members.

Oh, and two bodies are buried in the yard.

The bodies belong to the Bannister brothers who were hanged for first-degree murder in 1936.

They murdered three members of the Lake family, Philip, his wife Bertha and their 20-month-old daughter Jackie.

The Bannisters were hanged at the same time and put into the same casket. It was the last hanging in New Brunswick.

Steele was aware of the hanging but after some research he found out Monday they were buried in the yard.

“I’m not afraid of ghosts,” he said. “I’m weirder than them so we’ll get along if anything.”

Steele’s original plan was to surprise his son but, unfortunately, the 25-year-old recently passed away due to heart failure.

“He would have loved this.”

Steele isn’t entirely sure what he will do with the building but his ideas are big and he will be keeping the gym open to the community.

It could turn into a brewery or dance hall. He is inspired by a popular club in Virginia 20 miles away from the university there.

“The kids there love it.”

He also collects antiques and other interesting finds, which included an OJ Simpson collection. He is planning on displaying the treasures in the cells as a curiosity museum.

“I have a life size mannequin of him. It would be funny to lock him up.”

           

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