Canada is often though of playing the role of the home front during the Second World War and not playing parts in any battles within the country, or having prisoner of war camps. But to many peoples surprise there was 25 prisoner of war camps across Canada with 13 of those being in Ontario. One of the prisoner of war camps that is still standing is Camp 30 located in Bowmanville. Buildings covered in graffiti, over run with weeds gives the haunting feeling of its former past but it did not begin with such harrowing history. The Bowmanville POW Camp is truly a place frozen in time that is a must visit before it is gone.
History of Camp 30 – Bowmanville Prisoner of War Camp
The Bowmanville Prisoner of War Camp was not always a POW camp but was originally a boys training school. The boarding school aimed to teach non-institutional modes of education to reform delinquent boys by providing them with moral, mental, physical education and training. The school trained and gave young boys credits towards their secondary school credits for fourteen years until the breakout of the Second World War and the government vacated the property to turn it into a prisoner of war camp. The grounds were quickly transformed with added barbed wire fencing, gates and barracks for the Canadian soldiers. In 1941 the first German POWs arrived on Canadian soil. POW’s were held at Camp 30 until 1945 when they were then sent back to Europe at the conclusion of World War Two.
Getting to Bowmanville’s POW Camp
If you plug in Camp 30 into Google Maps it will take you down Lambs Road where you will come to one of the old entrances with a gate now blocking your way into the grounds. There is no parking here so unless you would like to just view Camp 30 from the road we suggest you head over to Sprucewood Crescent where you can park to access Camp 30. You can park in the subdivision around Sprucewood Crescent and from there you will find the entrance to Ehrenwort Trail and it is only about a 5 to 10 minute walk to Camp 30 from here. It is a decently maintained gravel / dirt path that leads up right up to the oval old paved road that goes around the Bowmanville POW Camp.
You will notice that there is satellite security cameras all throughout the Bowmanville POW Camp and signage that says the property is monitored by a security company 24/7 but you are completely safe to walk around as long as you stay on the circular paved road that will let you view all the buildings. These cameras are here to protect the property from further vandalism as you can see from the copious amounts of graffiti all over the building walls as well as from further damage as some buildings we lit on fire a few years back. This camp is a part of Canadian history and would be a shame to see the public lose access to such a unique place to visit.
Exploring Camp 30
As we came up the path from Sprucewood Crescent and the remaining buildings of Camp 30 an eerie feeling swept over us. That feeling like you are not quite supposed to be here but also the feeling of excitement that you have discovered something that has been left untouched for far too long. The graffiti covered buildings were spread apart throughout the large 300 acre property, with several sports fields located on the outskirts of the buildings. The windows are all boarded up from windows being smashed during people partying on the grounds years ago, even starting fires in the buildings leaving them not safe and no longer accessible to the public. We wandered around the cracked paved circle walking past the gymnasium, hospital, barracks as well as several other buildings. We really enjoyed exploring this piece of history at the Bowmanville POW Camp 30 and hope these buildings remain and would possibly even one day be restored. Here are some more photos of our time exploring Camp 30.