POW Camp 21 (1940-1943)

In 1940, the vacant Espanola mill site was selected, among other locations in Ontario, and occupied by members of the Canadian Armed Forces for use as a holding centre for captured enemy personnel otherwise known as a prisoner-of-war (POW) camp. By mid-July, there were some 1400 prisoners of war quartered in the facility.

The prisoners were provided with playing fields where they would exercise, play soccer and hold track and field events. In the winter they made two ice surfaces, one for hockey and one for curling. The prisoners also cooked and served their own food in a common kitchen area.

In 1943, the prisoners of war were transferred to Medicine Hat and Lethbridge when the mill was purchased by the KVP Co.

A large detailed map of the world, painted in colour, on a wall inside the mill site is said to have been drawn from memory by a prisoner (a Luftwaffe pilot/navigator). The map still exists today at the mill site.

Interesting Fact
In the early 1900’s, all of the bricks for the mill and town of Espanola were made in Espanola from the clay dug out for the construction of the power canal and the sand from a pit dug in the center part of town.