Camp 30 ontario

Camp 30 in Ontario is an abandoned facility used for prisoners of war during WW2

My recent visit to Camp 30 in Bowmanville, Ontario was a journey unlike any other - a journey through time and Canada's role in World War II.

Approaching Camp 30, I felt a surge of excitement mixed with a tinge of apprehension. Despite having an adventurous spirit, I know better than to venture into abandoned buildings alone. 

Peeking my head into the dilapidated buildings, I was overwhelmed by the eerie silence that enveloped the space. It was as if time had stood still, frozen in forgotten history. 

camp 30 ontario

Camp 30. Photo by Brian Rome.

Before Camp 30 became a prisoner of war camp, the site was the Bowmanville Boys Training School, a reform school for troubled youth established in the 1920s. 

The school aimed to provide education and rehabilitation for young boys having trouble with the law or facing difficult circumstances at home. 

During World War II, Camp 30 was operated by the Canadian Military, primarily housing German POWs, including notable figures such as U-Boat commanders Otto Kretschmer and Wolfgang Heyda. 

Camp 30 Bowmanville

This bridge over Soper Valley Creek connects the trails within the Camp 30 grounds to residential streets in Bowmanville. Photo by the author.

Between 1941 and 1945, the camp was heavily guarded by the military to prevent any escape attempts. In 1942, a riot took place at Camp 30 - referred to as The Battle of Bowmanville. 

The riot stemmed from plans to shackle 100 German prisoners of war, leading to a three-day clash between the POWs and Canadian guards. 

Camp 30 Bowmanville

Of six remaining buildings, only one is fenced off at this time. Security cameras are scattered throughout Camp 30. Photo by the author.

No fatalities were reported in relation to the riot. But, there were injuries sustained by both prisoners and guards, primarily during hand-to-hand combat.

Camp 30 Bowmanville

Camp 30. Photo by the author.

After the war, Camp 30 was repurposed for various uses, including serving as a training center, a youth detention facility, and hosting several private schools. 

Camp 30 Bowmanville

On the grounds of Camp 30. Photo by the author.

Despite the relatively recent abandonment of the property in 2008, the atmosphere exuded a sense of nostalgia, as if decades had passed since the last person walked these halls, at least the last person who was supposed to be there.

camp 30 ontario

Inside Camp 30. Photo by Brian Rome.

Access to the interior of the buildings is restricted, with access points boarded up to deter exploration. Despite this, some individuals manage to bypass the barriers, using the interior as a canvas for artistic expression through graffiti and photoshoot settings

camp 30 ontario

Inside Camp 30. Photo by Brian Rome.

My brief visit to Camp 30 was short but sweet, enriched by the fascinating history surrounding the site. 

I look forward to returning to Camp 30, armed with proper gear and a few friends in tow, capturing the essence of this forgotten place through the lens of my camera. Camp 30 Bowmanville

Camp 30. Photo by the author.

In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve parts of Camp 30 as a historic site. The site's designation as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2013 marked a significant step in its preservation. 

Camp 30 is located at 2020 Lambs Rd. in Bowmanville, Ontario.

Lead photo by

Brian Rome

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