Canadian Canoe Routes

The Case of the WWII POW Camp on Wabinosh Lake in Wabakimi
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Author:  true_north [ November 11th, 2018, 12:15 am ]
Post subject:  The Case of the WWII POW Camp on Wabinosh Lake in Wabakimi

My brother - and fellow paddler! - Max and I spent a couple of weeks up in the Armstrong Station area this September. We went up for a few reasons: to see the Cliff Lake pictograph sites again, to paddle down a stretch of the Pikitgushi that does not seem to get any traffic at all (i.e. from the Bear Camp down to Windigo Bay). to island hop Lake Nipigon down to Echo Rock.

Something we didn’t know we’d be doing on this trip was looking for a POW camp on Wabinosh Lake! It all started with a comment by an Armstrong local that piqued our curiosity. We looked for - but did not find that POW camp. Further search for an answer when we got home did lead me to learn some new stuff about my country’s history.


The most surprising thing I learned was this - there was no POW camp on Wabinosh Lake - at least, no camp the way I had imagined them to be as we looked for signs of one.

See this post - WWII POW Camps in the Armstrong Station Area – The Real Story! - if you want to see where our little search for Wabinosh Lake’s POW camp for German soldiers in WWII led us. It ended up being a trip within a trip!

And if you have any stories of your own - or ones you heard from your parents or grandparents - let me know. There is still more to this story!

Author:  chicopeesnowshoe [ November 11th, 2018, 7:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Case of the WWII POW Camp on Wabinosh Lake in Wabaki

My father used to tell me stories about the prison camps in the north during the war. It seems that they were mostly lacking in barbed wire. The theory was that there was no place to escape to and no one to harm if someone were so inclined.

Prisoners were reasonably well fed, and had things to keep them occupied, so few decided to test the theory. Those that did found that , rather than being dumb enough to try to keep folks in a prison with no bars, the authorities were quite correct. Most escapees got tired of trudging through "miles and miles of nothing" and being chewed on by various bugs and returned to camp voluntarily within a few days. Apparently there were a very few who were never heard from again.

There is a map regarding camps in southern Ontario included in the article referred to in your post . It notes camps in the Chatham and Bowmanville areas, among others. News to me, and I can't think of a more appropriate day to look up some information and reflect. Thanks for posting this.

Author:  RHaslam [ November 11th, 2018, 9:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Case of the WWII POW Camp on Wabinosh Lake in Wabaki

Two observations -

There was a camp outside of Longlac as well. One of the prisoners enjoyed it so much he came back after the war. We brought him into our Canadian history classes every year to talk about his experiences. He had been a submariner, and his sub had been disabled. He managed to get out with a few other fellas and was shipped to Longlac. He worked on lumber crews and said he was treated very well. Lived well into his 90's.

Did you actually do the last part of the Pikit? Did you paddle the big loop or port it? Enquiring minds have to know!!!!!!!!!!!

Author:  true_north [ November 11th, 2018, 10:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Case of the WWII POW Camp on Wabinosh Lake in Wabaki

Rob, the story of your German POW seems to be pretty typical. The NFB documentary The Enemy Within that I provide a link to at the start of the post notes that a number of German POWs emigrated to Canada after having been sent back to Germany in 1945. They were treated well when they were here.

Re: the lower Pikitigushi. We did indeed paddle down. It took 2 1/2 days and was actually a beautiful stretch of the river, a lot like the Steel River below Rainbow Falls! See this post for maps and details:

Down The Pikitigushi From the Bear Camp To Windigo Bay

Your satellite images in a post of yours from last year made us look at that stretch more closely and decide that we had to git 'er dun!

Author:  RHaslam [ November 11th, 2018, 12:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Case of the WWII POW Camp on Wabinosh Lake in Wabaki

Fantastic report! Sorry to her about your shoulder. I'm thinking of this route as a possible trip for the students starting at the Ogoki Bridge and travelling through the reservoir. We would get out at the train track and hopefully be able to train back to Nakina. I wonder what high water would do to that river?

Thanks again for this excellent report, it's number one on my must do list! If we do it, we will be opening up some pretty serious ports.

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