WW II POW Camp
World War II Prisoner of War Camp
Kananaskis Forest Experimental Station
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Colonel's Cabin is a single-storey round log building situated on approximately 16 hectares of land in the northernmost part of Kananaskis Country, south of Seebe and near Barrier Lake. The cabin is constructed of local lodgepole pines joined with double cut round saddle notching and features a broad veranda and a pyramidal roof.
The heritage value of the Colonel's Cabin lies in its status as one of the few remaining buildings in Alberta associated with the internment of Second World War prisoners of war. It also possesses heritage value for its association with the establishment of the Kananaskis Forest Experimental Station during the Great Depression.
In 1934, the Canadian government established the National Forestry Program under the supervision of the Department of Defence. The program was designed to provide work for unemployed single men during the Great Depression. The Kananaskis Forest Experimental Station near Seebe was founded as a part of this initiative. Though partly conceived as a make-work project during the thin years of the 1930s, the station yielded substantial insights into forestry practice and influenced policies in Alberta and throughout western Canada.
In September, 1939, the site was reclaimed by the Department of Defence and adapted for use as Kananaskis Internment Camp #130, a prison camp for civilian internees and enemy merchant seamen. Two years later, the majority of these detainees were sent to facilities in eastern Canada and the site was enlarged and fortified for use as a prisoners of war camp. The camp detained combat officer personnel from late 1942 until 1946, when the camp closed. During their time in detention, the internees engaged in numerous activities, including clearing the valley that now forms the bed of Barrier Lake. There were 26,000 prisoners of war interned in Alberta during the Second World War - more than were interned in any other province. The Colonel's Cabin is one of the few structural reminders of this chapter in provincial history.
The Colonel's Cabin was constructed in 1936 as part of the Kananaskis Forest Experimental Station. After the site was converted into an internment camp, the building served as the Camp Commandant's quarters. The cabin is constructed of local lodgepole pines joined by double cut round saddle notching and features a broad verandah and a pyramidal roof. The interior of the cabin contains an impressive Rundle Rock fireplace and an open-beam log ceiling.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 101)
The character-defining elements of the Colonel's Cabin include such features as:
- location in the northernmost part of Kananaskis Country;
- pyramidal, cedar-shingled roof;
- Rundle Rock chimney;
- lodgepole pine round log construction with double cut round saddle notching;
- round log framed veranda;
- historic cellar door;
- historic door and hardware,
- fenestration pattern and style, including historic windows;
- Rundle Rock fireplace featuring decorative voussoir and keystone;
- original artifacts, including maps, carvings, and light fixtures;
- pristine and isolated mountain environment, reflective of the site's use as a place of detention.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Military and Defence
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Function - Category and Type
- Historic or Interpretive Site
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 101)
Cross-Reference to Collection