POW Camp 30

Credit: Catherine Starr

NEWLY DECLARED NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE IS STRUGGLING AGAINST TIME AND VANDALS

Why it matters

In 1925 John Jury donated 106 acres of land to the Province of Ontario for the construction of a reformatory school, on the outskirts of Bowmanville. During WWII it was transformed into a Canadian-run POW camp for hundreds of captured German officers, including such notable officers as U-Boat Commanders Otto Kretschmer and Wolfgang Heyda. Known as Camp 30, it is the last intact POW camp in Canada. After the war it was home to a succession of private schools that took advantage of the ready-made campus, playing fields and generating plant. The last school, Darul Uloom Islamic University vacated in 2008. The following year it was purchased for private development.

Acting on the advice of the Ontario Heritage Trust, the municipality of Clarington included the site and six of what were originally 18 buildings, on its Register of Properties of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest.

Why it’s endangered

The property was purchased by Kaitlin Group who wants to develop housing subdivisions on the northern and southern portions of the site. Although the developer has decided not to demolish the POW Camp 30’s buildings and has expressed a willingness to donate that section of the property to the municipality, it is far too big a project for the small municipality to take on. In the meantime, Camp 30 has fallen victim to vandalism and fire that has resulted in the demolition of the former administration building.

The municipality has given Kaitlin Group permission to demolish up to eight buildings that hold little architectural or historic value, such as locker rooms and storage facilities. The main structures—the administrative buildings, dormitories, concert hall and infirmary, however, are worthy of preservation.

Where things stand

A request to nominate POW Camp 30 has been filed with the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and work is underway to try and establish a stewardship foundation to help restore the site. Clarington has commissioned an Integrated Planning Solutions study that made a number of recommendations, including converting it into a tourism and convention venue. However Faye Langmaid, manager of special projects for Clarington, told the Globe and Mail that the project is far too big for the municipality to handle on its own.

Update 2021:  In 2016, the Municipality of Clarington announced that they had completed a purchase agreement with the current owners of the property, Kaitlin Developments and Fandor Homes. This move has effectively saved the site from eventual destruction by a combination of vandalism, inadequate funding, and eventual home development. The sale includes a $500,000 donation to the Municipality to assist in the maintenance and care of the property in conjunction with an initial site cleanup. The cleanup will involve destroying buildings that have not received a historical status, cleaning up graffiti, and the installation of security cameras.

As of 2021, the site remains in disrepair with no cleanup efforts initiated.

Location: Clarington, Ontario

Top 10 Endangered Places List: 2013

Status: Positive Outlook

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