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Prisoner of War Camps in Northern Ontario - Walleye Message Central
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Old 06-14-2017, 03:07 PM
powsincanada powsincanada is offline
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Ontario
Posts: 3
Default Prisoner of War Camps in Northern Ontario

As I've come across a few similar posts on the topic, I hope it is okay to post this here.

I'm doing my PhD in history, looking at the lives of German PoWs and their guards employed in bush camps in Northern Ontario (and the rest of the country as well) and am hoping you can provide with some more information about camps you may have come across.

I am particularly interested in any stories you may have, photographs of the sites (old or new), and any information you might have on the locations of some of these camps. While I have hundreds of pages of documents pertaining to what happened in the camps, the locations (with the exception of the railway siding or the odd mention of a lake) were not preserved in the archives. I should mention I already have the locations of the five camps (some sources say six, but only five employed PoWs) on Lake of the Woods as well as some of those in the Regan, Minataree, and Mapgie areas.

For those you aren't aware, here's a brief history: Canada accepted its first German soldiers from the UK in 1940 and although PoWs were initially held in stereotypical PoW camps with barbed wire fences and guard towers, in 1943 the Canadian government authorized their use to help boost the lumber and agricultural areas. From 1943 to 1946, there were roughly 150 lumber and pulpwood camps scattered throughout Ontario employing thousands of German soldiers. These camps were sometimes newly built or used existing civilian lumber camps but had no barbed wire fences or guard towers - the bush was deemed enough to keep them in camp - this, however, didn't always work. Despite mosquitoes, black flies, and the Canadian winter, most enjoyed the opportunity to work in relative freedom and earn some money. In 1946, the PoWs were transferred back to the UK (and eventually to Germany) but, beginning in the 1950s, some returned as tourists or returned to settle.

That also being said, if you have any questions about PoWs in Canada or you'd like more information about camps you are familiar with, don't hesitate to ask!

If you are interested, you can read more about my research at http://www.powsincanada.wordpress.com

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Old 06-14-2017, 06:25 PM
Further North's Avatar
Further North Further North is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: NW WI
Posts: 2,003

Not sure if this will work, but try reaching out to the Claus Otto at Harris Bay Camp on Sturgeon Lake.


I believe his father was a POW that came back after the war and opened the resort.

If this works for you, I'd love to see the final result.
I think I'm angle parked in a parallel parking world.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:01 PM
tandm tandm is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: northwest illinois
Posts: 527

there was , atleast, one camp northwest of Sioux Lookout, Ontario.They , apparently, worked for the pulp mill near Hudson. Not sure where you should start, but Sioux Lookout should have a historical society.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:23 PM
Live to jig Live to jig is offline
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Location: Covington Ga
Posts: 147

I know there was a German camp in the area Of Long Lac Ont. They were not concerned with them escaping, there was no where to go!
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Old 06-14-2017, 08:25 PM
Beer King Beer King is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Champlin MN
Posts: 125

Hi Mike

Interesting subject for sure. I do have a little bit of POW camp related info for White Otter Lake near Atikokan. There were several of them there. Will send you pm.

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Old 06-14-2017, 09:08 PM
pjshorthorn pjshorthorn is offline
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Cumming,Ga
Posts: 4,663

I believe there was a camp in close proximity to Devil's Elbow on the NE section of Lac Seul.

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Old 06-15-2017, 06:45 AM
Bill Krejca Bill Krejca is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Robins, Iowa, US.
Posts: 4,894

I have a picture of me, as a youngster, paddling in a dugout canoe which was made by prisoners who were at the Alfred Inlet camp in the south part of Whitefish Bay. We found the canoe, which had apparently drifted in and been covered by sand and reemerged on a beach nearby. This was around 1950. The place where the camp stood is now mostly covered over with brush and poison ivy. Prisoners were allowed fishing and paddling privileges after their daily pulp cutting quota was reached. They were allowed to go as far south as Turtle Portage, but were warned they would be shot if they went farther.

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Old 06-15-2017, 07:20 AM
castnblast castnblast is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2008
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Posts: 110

Neys on the north shore of superior was a significant camp. My grandfather was part of the work crew that was contracted to take down the camp in the 50's
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:21 AM
SmallyNut SmallyNut is offline
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 11

I am fairly certain that there were island camps on the Winnipeg River North of Kenora, at least that is what one of my German neighbors had told me. There has been a lot of German property owners on that system, in and around Minaki.
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Old 06-15-2017, 08:12 AM
LOW1 LOW1 is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 2,826

Be sure to contact the Lake of the Woods museum in Kenora for information on the Lake of the Woods camp(s). They have a huge photo collection and I bet they have information for you. The archives of Manitoba in Winnipeg and the Ontario archives may also have information.

It would be interesting to track down any surviving prisoners in Germany and get their story.

And I bet the National Archives and/or the Department of Defense have information about historical POW camps.

Good luck on your interesting project.
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canada , lac seul , lake of the woods , ontario

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