A Day in the Life of a POW Woodcutter

As of April 1946, almost 9,000 German combatant POWs, Enemy Merchant Seamen (EMS), and Civilian Internees were employed in logging and pulpwood operations in Ontario alone. And hundreds, if not thousands, more had spent some time in a bush camp between July 1943 and July 1946. The majority of these bush camps were operated byContinue reading “A Day in the Life of a POW Woodcutter”

From Bismarck Survivor to Canadian Citizen: Helmut Keune

Today is the 81st anniversary of the sinking of the #Bismarck. From a crew of over 2,000, only 114 survived. The survivors were subsequently interned in Canada until 1946, but one POW, Helmut Keune, would remain in Canada for the rest of his life. Here is his story.

National Canoe Day

June 26 is National Canoe Day and I thought I would take a quick look at Prisoners of War and Canoes in Canada during the Second World War. Prisoners of War in Canada spent the early war years in internment camps behind barbed wire but this changed when the Canadian government approved their employment inContinue reading “National Canoe Day”

When Interests Collide: POWs and Beer

“Lethbridge Ale” from the House of Lethbridge, “Royal Stout” from Lethbridge Breweries Limited, and “Calgary Beer Export Lager” from Calgary Brewing & Malting Co. These three beer labels are not only a part of Lethbridge’s and Calgary’s beer history but part of Canada’s internment history as well. These labels are souvenirs kept by German prisonerContinue reading “When Interests Collide: POWs and Beer”

An Update and “Held Captive: Prisoners of War and Their Pets in Canada during the Second World War”

It has been a while since my last post here but I’m still researching and writing about POWs in Canada. I’m happy to say that I finished my dissertation and successfully defended my PhD. I’m hoping that this (and the current pandemic) will give me more time to share some of my research here. SpeakingContinue reading “An Update and “Held Captive: Prisoners of War and Their Pets in Canada during the Second World War””

From Port Colborne to Detroit

You would be hard-pressed to find a PoW camp or labour project in Canada that did not have an attempted escape attempt or, in a few isolated cases, a successful escape. The labour project run by the Erie Peat Co. employing Enemy Merchant Seamen (EMS) near Port Colborne, Ontario was no exception. Having opened inContinue reading “From Port Colborne to Detroit”

A Needle in a Beetstack

Some time ago I acquired a series of forty-five photos documenting a PoW’s time in Canada. As is so often the case, the photos are unnamed and the provenance was unknown. Three group photos of PoWs at Camp 133 at Lethbridge lead me to believe that the original owner of the group was the manContinue reading “A Needle in a Beetstack”

Gone Fishing

Undoubtedly the most unusual find this summer was a PoW-made fishing rod. While I have come across the odd mention of PoWs fishing in labour projects in Manitoba and Ontario, this is the first time I’ve encountered material evidence of this. Made from a broom handle and what appears to be can lids, the fishingContinue reading “Gone Fishing”

Museums, Marshes, and Mountains – Summer Research, Part 1

As some may have noticed, I’ve neglected my blog as of late, with only one post in the last two months. This, I assure you, was not intentional but instead the result of me having been on the road for most of that time. Now, 12,000 kilometers later, I have returned to London following theContinue reading “Museums, Marshes, and Mountains – Summer Research, Part 1”

Camp 30 – Bowmanville: Then and Now

Following the popularity of my Fort Henry post, I thought I would share a brief look at another important internment camp in Canada – Camp 30 near Bowmanville, Ontario. Approximately seventy-five kilometers east of Toronto, Camp 30 was built around a former boys training school on the outskirts of the town. Camp 30 opened inContinue reading “Camp 30 – Bowmanville: Then and Now”