There are many secrets along Lake Superiors’ shores, including a Sleeping Giant, an ancient volcano, and an abundance of natural beauty. One of these majestic places is Neys Provincial Park, which is located west of Marathon Ontario. It is filled with natural wonders. Classified as a natural environment park, Neys has a huge sand beach, multiple hiking trails, beautiful forest, and fascinating rock formations.
While Neys’ beauty is obvious, some of its secrets are not. Hidden amongst the trees, and under the moss-covered ground, remains of a darker time in world history can be found.
During World War II Neys was a prisoner-of-war camp that held mostly German soldiers. The camp operated from 1941 to 1946. This camp was one of many Canadian camps to hold war prisoners. During the height of the war, over 34,000 prisoners were held in Canada.
The camp, known officially as Neys Camp 100, was built by the Canadian government in collaboration with the Pigeon River Timber Company. In 1943, Pigeon River Timber harvested 98,000 cords of wood, 90,000 of which were harvested by POWs.
Prisoners first arrived in the camp in January 1941. They came across the Atlantic, landed in Halifax, and were then transported by train to Neys. At this point in time, the camp was surrounded by three rows of barbed wire fences, as well as many natural barriers. With Lake Superior on one side, and the others surrounded by never-ending boreal forest, escaping, and managing to say alive, was almost impossible.
Neys Camp 100 was also guarded by the Veterans Guard of Canada, which was a unit composed of older soldiers, and those who were injured during World War I.
After World War II ended, the prisoners were sent back to Germany. The camp was closed in the spring of 1946. By 1954, the camp was completely abandoned, and the buildings were dismantled. The site was left abandoned until 1965 when it was designated a provincial park.
Remnants of the camp can still be found if you look closely. The park is scattered with old machinery, building foundations, and wooden structures.
Initially, as I walked through the park, I did not see many remains from when Neys was a prisoner-of-war camp. However as I began to look closer, they became more and more obvious. In areas of the park that were not turned into campsites, or maintained trails, you can find old buckets, broken walls, and rusted metal hidden throughout the trees.
Out of all the remnants that remain from the past, the most interesting one that I came across was the abandoned boats at the point of Prisoners Cove Bay. The boats, which were owned by Pigeon River Timber, were used to transport company workers, prisoners, and supplies up and down the shores of Lake Superior.
While the boats remain abandoned, and rotting, they can still serve as a reminder of the hardships that were faced by the Canadian veterans that were stationed here overseeing the camp, as well as those who were stationed overseas in a foreign land.
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Latitude: 00.00000, Longitude: 00.00000