German PoW Camp

During the Second World War, German prisoners of war were shipped from England to a Manitoba logging camp where they led an idyllic life away from the war. The findings of a three-year archeological dig in Riding Mountain National Park reveal that the PoWs purchased mail-order items from the Eaton’s catalogue, kept themselves impeccably groomed, attended barn dances, and temporarily escaped into the nearby countryside.

This was far from unusual as the British farmed out tens of thousands of PoWs to its allies and former colonies. Of the PoW’s life in Manitoba, Adrian Myers, the PhD student leading the archeological project, said: “We do know that the prisoners on the whole were delighted to be captured as PoWs and brought to Canada, taken out of brutal conditions and brought to a paradise compared to where they’d been before.”

In addition to plates, cutlery, tin cans and bottles, archeologists have found some items that would seem out of place in a wilderness PoW camp. Said Myers, “Were finding large volumes of personal grooming products. So it appears they were really taking care of how they looked and how they smelled. We’ve got toothbrushes, combs, face cream, we’ve got cologne, aftershave, razors, all these kinds of things.”

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For more on prisoners of war, visit The Canadian Encyclopedia.