Friday, April 27, 2012

Camp 132 - Medicine Hat

I must apologize for my absence in the last month but I have been quite busy and unable to post any updates. Hopefully I can make it up to everyone and make posting a regular habit!

One thing that I did get a chance to do this month was to visit the former site of Camp 132 in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Nearly every PoW that spent time in Manitoba, and many that spent time in Canada, also spent time behind the barbed wire fences that surrounding Camp 132.

Camp 132 Today
Built to accommodate the increasing number of PoWs arriving from Britain, Camp 132 as one of the two largest camps in Canada. This one and its sister camp in Lethbridge, were built to accommodate 12,500 German PoWs, almost one third of the total number of PoWs in Canada. The population of these camps usually were larger than the population of the respective communities.

Thousands of PoWs went through the gates at Medicine Hat, some spending short periods of time here while others spent most of the war here. With large grounds, the PoWs were able to play sports and with recreation halls, orchestras, bands, and plays were often held for entertainment. Not everyone enjoyed their time at Medicine Hat as thousands volunteered for labour projects across the country.

Camp 132 Gymnasium
Following the end of the war, the camp was eventually downsized and became unused. Today, the former camp site is now the Medicine Hat Stampede Grounds and little remains of the once bustling camp. A couple buildings still remain, the most obvious is one of the gymnasiums, seen in the picture. Still, I was struck by what it must have been like for German PoWs stepping off of the train and seeing the vast prairie disappearing into the horizon...

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9, 1917

Just a quick post today but one that I feel is very important. April 9, 2012 marks the 95th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It was on this day in 1917 that, for the first time, the four Canadian divisions fought alongside one another to capture this important objective. This was Canada's opportunity to show it's worth, to show what its men and women could do. After a very long four days, the ridge was in Canadian hands. The fighting strength and spirit of the Canadians was clear, they were among the best. It is to these men and women that I dedicate this post.

1917-2012 - Lest We Forget