The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country - Hiking Alberta


The Colonel's Cabin is a landmark across Kananaskis Trail from Barrier Lake.



There is a large green sign not much more than a stones throw pass the entrance to Barrier Dam on the opposite side of Kananaskis Trail. 


The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The large sign on the east side of Kananaskis Trail just south of Barrier Dam



Today, following the hike into Jewell Falls, there is sufficient time remaining in the day to revisit, refresh the memory and wander around a bit.  Turning into the Field Station will find a number of buildings on this sub campus of the University of Calgary called the Biogeoscience Institute, Barrier Lake Field Station.  There are lodges, classrooms and staff residential buildings and a laboratory building.

Also, on the way in, a sign near the entrance says 'Colonel's Cabin'.  This exhibit is worth a look to be introduced to the Colonel's Cabin and Guard Tower # 8.  More than 60 years ago, this site was the location of a Second World War Prisoner of War Camp.  There are sketchy remnants and fascinating stories.


The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Prisoner of War Camp - Guard Tower # 8 - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada


The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Interpretive Sign at Guard Tower # 8


The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Historic Guard Tower # 8 could use a new coat of paint.


Adjacent to parking is Guard Tower # 8, used at this camp during World War II, then relocated to McConnell Ridge, overlooking Barrier Lake, to be used as a fire lookout before returning to its present location where the historic building now rests perpetually as a permanent physical reminder of fascinating history. 

About 650 prisoners were temporarily staged here. 

Did you know that 10,000 prisoners of war were held on the tract of land near the corner of the TransCanada Highway # 1 and Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40) where the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino is now resident? 

Did you know there is another prisoner of war incarceration location on the Bow Valley Parkway 1A west of the Town of Banff?  Watch closely to your right traveling west near the trail-head access for Castle Lookout

Go searching.  Have some fun and enjoy the fresh mountain air!


The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The historic Colonel's Cabin adjacent to historic Guard Tower # 8


The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada  The interpretive plaque at Colonel's Cabin


The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada


Normally, only a few minutes would be spent here, but today, there is time and opportunity to wander around.


The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The Veteran's Commemorative Stone, Flags and Plaque


The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Interesting text on the Commemorative Plaque


Beginning near the Colonel's Cabin, there are two short interpretive trails.  One is the 1.5 kilometer Forest Interpretive Trail which will be left for a drier summer day.

There is an opportunity to stroll the 0.3 kilometer History Loop (except for stops 6 and 7 which are waterlogged).  Quite frankly, there is not much left to see other than some nondescript numbered signposts from 1 to 8 (# 1 is the Colonel's Cabin: # 2 is the Guard Tower).  The short, easy, loop trail continues on the other side of the entrance road.  There are several old foundations.  Unfortunately, the interpretive brochure which would bring these locations to life is not available this day.

A family could bring young children here in the summer and participate in  fascinating conversation for quality time together.  Contacting the Barrier Lake Visitor Centre for opening times would be wise and it is likely they have the interpretive brochure.


The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Remains of the Seebe Internment Camp # 130 on the History Trail


The Colonel's Cabin - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Remains of the Seebe Internment Camp # 130 on the History Trail








My dad was stationed at this camp during the war as a CO. He is gone and would be 100 so its not likely theres too many if anyone left from that time. I have a ship in a bottle that he bought for $5.00 from 2 of the prisoners.

That is a fortunate find. The Colonel's Cabin is a small museum when it is open in the summer. I believe they would be very interested in your acquisition. Thay may also be able to provide valuable insights into the nature of the plaque's history. As for the preservation or restoration of the artifact, I have no knowledge in this area but a search engine may lead you to local experts in the field or a source like the Calgary's Glenbow Museum may be in a position to provide a reference. You may have encountered an important item in local history. Perhaps a reader will be able to enlighten us about a local Calgary resource expert in the restoration and preservation of wood. I wish you well and thank you, Russel, for sharing your good fortune with us.

Today I 'rescued' a hand-carved plaque of cedar (I believe) about 12" high, in the shape of a shield such as any unit badge one might see displayed in a mess or Legion, varnished on the front; most prominent is a British lion rampant over a ribbon on which is crudely carved VETERANS GUARD OF CANADA. On the bottom edge of the shield is carved INTERNMENT CAMP 130. Had I not bought it, it would have been compacted and lost to history. There is no indication of whether it was carved by a guard or an internee. I assume it belonged, likely, to a Guard who passed on. His family, I surmise, in their cleanup, decided it was worthless and scheduled it for disposal. Thankfully I saved it; the question is, what to do with it now to ensure its preservation? Help.

Thank you for your comment, June. It is an interesting part of Canadian history containing both justice and injustice at a time of world war. It is a much different world today where distance and rapid communication have changed the nature of conflict. Now, there is a topic for debate or a fairly good essay.

It is an interesting place with a rich history. I have been unable to get my hands on the interpretive brochure for the short and easy History Loop but the next time I am out there, when the Colonel's Cabin is open, I will try to get you a reference, Laurel. There is not a lot left to see, other than the cabin and the Guard Tower but I am sure the story is fascinating. I have known, by hearsay, the corner at Kananaskis Trail and the TransCanada Hwy. was a very large camp but I have not been able to find much information about it. Thank you for your comment, Laurel. Hope all is well with you. I am enjoying your blog from Germany. Places I will unlikely get to see.

Fascinating. I knew that some people were imprisoned in mountain camps and made to build infrastructure. These were Ukrainian immigrants and Canadians of Ukrainian descent who built a great deal of what has become Banff. I never knew about the Africans. Thanks for the knowledge.

When I first went here I was so surprised to find out that it had been a prison camp. I'm taking all my German guests here when they come this summer as I think they'll be surprised as well.

I have heard a number of interesting stories over the years. Although there are reports of escape attempts, including tunneling under the electric fence, the most common theme seems to an overall generally good relationship between guards and prisoners. At that time there was little developement in this wilderness area and it is possible incarceration may have been an attractive alternative to front line battle and the risk of injury or death. I have heard stories about guards and prisoners establishing friendships which endured beyond the end of the war. I would be very interested in hearing accounts of anyone who personnally participated in Camp 130 or Camp 133 in Lethbridge, Alberta. Thank you for your comment, D.

A unique place that many pass by without learning of the history there. Now, I may not be remembering well, but an older Mountain Guide friend told me some stories of this area. One I quite enjoyed was that some of the prisoners held there had mountaineering experience, and at some point during these military incarcerations, an agreement was made with them that they could go and climb upon Mt. Baldy, as long as they promised to return that same day. That's what I recall, and much of me hopes it's accurate as what a unique way to make something out of a difficult situation on both sides... DSD

This is fascinating material! I'm doing a research project on leftists who were interned at Camp Seebe/Kananaskis during WWII (from approximately 1940-41. I'd love anyone with connections to the camp (descendants of guards, others affiliated with or who worked in the camp, former internees, etc.) to get in touch with me to share their stories!

There are not a whole lot of people from the camp who are still around, but I wish you well on your project, Rhonda, and thank you for your comment.  Perhaps extended family members will have stories to share.

A friend of mine's father was a German POW held briefly at Kananaskis ... and later wrote a book about his experiences ... also held south of Longlac, Ontario ... used to lecture about the war at Lakehead University ... very interesting man.