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Colonel's Cabin

Seebe, Near

Other Names:
Kananaskis Cabin
Kananaskis Forest Experimental Station
W. W. II P. O. W. Camp
W.W. II P.O.W. Camp
World War II Prisoner of War Camp
WW II POW Camp

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.

Heritage Value
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)


Character-Defining Elements
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.


Location



Street Address:
Community: Seebe, Near
Boundaries: Legal Subdivision 7 in 10-24-8-W5
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
5
8
24
10
7 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
51.028774 -115.033343 GPS NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1982/06/11

Historical Information

Built: 1936/01/01 To 1936/01/01
Significant Date(s) 1934/01/01 To 1946/12/31
Theme(s) Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Science
Governing Canada : Military and Defence
Historic Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s): Leisure : Historic or Interpretive Site
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of this site is its representation of two of the harsher periods in Alberta's history. From 1934 to 1939, this site operated as a relief camp for the unemployed of the Depression. From 1939 to 1946, it functioned as a prisoner of war camp, the cabin acting as the Commandant's quarters. Kananaskis Internment Camp # 130 Seebe was opened on September 29, 1939 at the present site of the Kananaskis Forest Experiment Station. The camp housed civilian internees and Enemy Merchant Seamen (EMS) until July 1941, at which time the majority were transferred to Fredericton, New Brunswick and Petawawa, Ontario. The facilities were enlarged with a double barbed-wire perimeter fence and guard towers, each with a bren gun and spotlight, and converted to an internment camp for German P.O.W. (OR) Class 1. Camp #130 contained prisoners' huts, store, dining hall, recreation hall, hospital, jailhouse, mail censor office and sports field. Adjacent to the barbed wire enclosure were the officers' mess, office and headquarters, as well as the guards' quarters and drill yard. The internment camp closed in 1946.

From 1951 to 1960, the Alberta Forest Service training school for forest officers, now in Hinton, was located at the site. In 1966, an area was leased to the University of Calgary for development of an Environmental Sciences center. The Canadian Forestry Service developed a public education center in 1975, which has been operated by the Alberta Forest Service since 1980. During this time, the Colonel's Cabin has been used as a visitor center, containing exhibits on the forestry research station and the P.O.W. camp. On August 4, 1982, the Colonel's Cabin was designated a Provincial Historical Site by Alberta Culture.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

The Kananaskis Forest Experimental Station was established in 1934, and functioned as a relief camp to help alleviate the severe unemployment of the Thirties. In 1939, it became and internment camp for undesirable aliens and by 1941 had evolved into a prisoner of war camp. The Colonels' Cabin, built in 1936 was the quarters of the Camp Commandant and was used as such until 1946. Present function of the building is unknown. The Colonels' Cabin is a 25' by 20' log cabin of open beam construction with a Rundle Rock fireplace. In 1974, the cabin was described as "well-preserved", although minor repairs were recommended; it is not known if these repairs were effected.

(Site Information Summary)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0017
Designation File: DES 0101
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 16350
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 101)
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