Canada played a very important part in WWII that few people realize – I had no idea myself until Brent and I traveled to POW Camp 30 during Doors Open Clarington a while back. They opened the doors – possibly for the last time – for visitors to have a tour of the camp. Why were Canadian POW camps important? Our distance from the battlefield meant that the highest-ranking Nazi POWs were send over to us, limiting their chances of ever rejoining their forces. The camp we visited was the last remaining WWII POW camp in Canada, and likely the world:
The camp was originally built in 1929 as a reform school for young boys, and when WWII broke out it was a turn-key prisoner of war camp. Add fences and guard towers and you’re set. Because of this, the Germans had access to one of the best-outfitted camps ever – including a gymnasium and a swimming pool:
POW Camp 30 was completely self-sustaining. The germans had access to a nearby farm and grew their own food, prepared it and served it. They handled everything on their own with as little involvement from the Canadian military as possible, and this meant very little cost to keep the camp running. There are so many stories we heard about the place, from escape attempts to small riots, German vs. Canadian hockey games and how things ran inside the camp. All of it was fascinating to learn.
Brent and I both agree that the entire grounds should be considered a historic landmark, restored, and turned into a local attraction. A local developer that owns the land has other plans, but hopefully they can meet a compromise. This place should be here forever, for future generations to learn the stories of the past. Lest we forget.