More than 400 Germans were imprisoned on the grounds of Riding Mountain National Park during the Second World War, and today, visitors will get to experience prisoner life.
The Prisoner of War Wagon Tour, put on by Friends of Riding Mountain National Park (FRMNP), is a five-hour interpretive tour. Participants will be given red armbands, loaded onto wagons on which actors playing prisoners and guards will jump on and off, offering a glimpse into life at the Whitewater PoW camp.
Following the wagon ride to the site where the 15 prison buildings stood, prisoners will be given a similar lunch to what the Germans had during the war.
“They ate pretty well,” said FRMNP CAO George Hartlen. “Sauerbraten, different vegetables and different meats.”
The prison buildings are long gone, but interpreters will lead a GPS tour of the camp.
Whitewater was a labour camp where prisoners were paid 50 cents a day to cut down trees during the fuelwood shortage in the winter of 1942 and 1943.
The camp closed in late 1945 and the remaining prisoners were transferred to other labour projects across the country while the buildings and amenities were auctioned off and removed from the park.
“It’s an interesting chapter of history of the park, of Manitoba and Canada as well,” Hartlen said. “Not a lot of people realize that German soldiers captured were actually brought over to Canada and put in National Parks to help with logging activities.”
Seats are $62 per person ($55.80 for FRMNP members) and advance purchase is required. There are limited seats per tour.
The event begins at 9 a.m. at the north end of the bison enclosure.
For more information, call 204-848-4037 or email email@example.com.
» Twitter: @grjbruce
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 30, 2014