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German prisoners of war who spent much of the Second World War in a Manitoba logging camp purchased mail-order items from the Eaton's catalogue, kept themselves impeccably groomed and even staged "temporary" escapes into the nearby countryside.
Those are just some of the findings of a three-year archeological dig in Riding Mountain National Park, located about 300 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, where the Whitewater PoW camp was located.
Adrian Myers, a PhD student from Stanford University, has been leading the project since 2009, when he first arranged an agreement with Parks Canada to access the site which had sat neglected and abandoned for decades, little more than a few overgrown foundations still visible.
The site was once a bustling wilderness work camp housing about 500 people. About 450 German Afrika Korps soldiers were sent to the camp after their capture in October 1943 during the Second Battle of El-Alamein in Egypt. They were kept at the camp until October 1945.