Nov. 14, 2023

New sign honours Second World War history at UCalgary field station site

Visitors to Barrier Lake Field Station in Kananaskis Country welcome to view site and walk interpretive trail
Guard tower
A guard tower from Kananaskis Camp #130 stands above the Barrier Lake Field Station parking lot. Briana Van Den Bussche photos, Biogeoscience Institute

The Barrier Lake Field Station in Kananaskis Country has hosted a wide range of mountain research projects since its inauguration as a University of Calgary field station in 1966. However, before becoming a university research station, the site had a diverse history, including being used to house prisoners of war during the Second World War.

In the 1930’s, a federal forestry experimental station was established on what is currently the Barrier Lake Field Station site. During the Great Depression, the site was shifted to become a work camp which set it up to easily transition to a prisoner of war camp when World War II began.

The camp, known as Kananaskis Internment Camp #130, was originally created to house civilian internees and merchant seamen from Axis nations. Eventually these prisoners were moved to larger camps and Kananaskis Camp #130 was used to house over 600 German officers.

Thanks to an endowment from the President’s Initiative Fund, a new sign sharing the history of Kananaskis Camp #130 is now on display at the field station. The sign features an article which was originally published in the Rocky Mountain Outlook and includes historic images from the Glenbow Archives.

Albertans hoping to learn more about this piece of our province’s history can visit the sign, located outside the Colonel’s Cabin at the Barrier Lake Field Station, or read the original article. The cabin and the sign are located on the northeast corner of the site, and visitors are also encouraged to walk the self-guided interpretive trail to learn more about the history of the site. An interpretive pamphlet which includes a map of the trail can be found on the Biogeoscience Institute website.

Visitors should note that the pamphlet and map must be downloaded or printed before arriving in Kananaskis Country, as there is no cell service or internet access at the field station site.


The new sign in front of the Colonel’s Cabin at the field station. The cabin was built in the 1930’s and used throughout the site’s history.


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