Es­panola his­tory shared on MCTV Sud­bury

The Mid-North Monitor - - News - BY PA­TRI­CIA DROHAN

Thanks to the keen in­ter­est of a young MCTV Sud­bury news re­porter, and Es­panola his­to­rian Tim Gal­lagher, some unique Es­panola his­tory was fea­tured on the CTV News for North­ern On­tario on Feb. 6.

Claude Sharma, a news re­porter for the lo­cal Sud­bury tele­vi­sion, first heard about Es­panola’s Pris­oner of War Camp last sum­mer when he was do­ing a story in Sud­bury on North Shore Search and Res­cue.

He said that Bill Noon, pres­i­dent of NSSAR just hap­pened to men­tion the POW camp and the fa­mous world map that was drawn to scale on the wall of the prison by a Ger­man pris­oner in the early 1940s. Noon thought that it might make a good story for Sharma to in­ves­ti­gate.

“I con­tacted Dom­tar first just to set up the idea,” said Sharma. “I reached out to the com­pany last sum­mer and was put in touch with their me­dia re­la­tions depart­ment.”

He was soon con­tacted by some­one from that depart­ment.

Sharma said that he was telling a friend in Sud­bury about the story he was plan­ning about the camp and the map on the wall, and that friend told him there was a fel­low in Es­panola, an avid his­to­rian and he would be the man to speak to. That man was Tim Gal­lagher. Sharma soon found out that Gal­lagher no longer lived in Es­panola, but had moved to Lon­don, On­tario to be closer to fam­ily.

“I later reached out to the Es­panola Li­brary, and was told by them that Gal­lagher was def­i­nitely the go-to-per­son to in­ter­view,” said Sharma.

Re­cently, he was able to get Gal­lagher’s email ad­dress from the li­brary. Sharma and Gal­lagher ex­changed emails and spoke on the phone. Sharma de­cided to ask CTV Lon­don if they could do an in­ter­view with Gal­lagher and then send it on to him. The re­porter told Sharma that Gal­lagher’s knowl­edge of the his­tory of Es­panola was fas­ci­nat­ing.

Gal­lagher, born and raised in Es­panola was al­ways in­ter­ested in the lo­cal his­tory, es­pe­cially war his­tory, partly be­cause his fa­ther and un­cles served dur­ing the Se­cond World War. He be­gan col­lect­ing ar­ti­facts and doc­u­ments, pho­to­graphs, and com­pil­ing Es­panola his­tory about 40 years ago. He founded the Es­panola His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and was re­spon­si­ble for the cre­ation of the Her­itage Park, with his­tor­i­cal plaques, that is lo­cated at the north en­trance to town.

In a book writ­ten by Gal­lagher, about the Ger­man POW camp in Es­panola, he gives the his­tory of the mill and the camp through writ­ten records and anec­do­tal ac­counts that he has col­lected over the years.

In 1899, the Span­ish River Pulp & Pa­per Com­pany signed an agree­ment with On­tario to cut tim­ber on al­lot­ted lands and to build a mill on the site of Webb­wood Falls. Con­struc­tion of a mill be­gan in

1901 and was in full op­er­a­tion by 1905. In 1911, the mill was ex­panded and in

1927 the Abitibi Power & Pa­per Com­pany (AP&P) pur­chased the mill.

By the late 1920s, the world-wide fi­nan­cial de­pres­sion had af­fected the pa­per in­dus­try and the mill closed in 1932. Even though the mill was closed, the com­pany kept a skele­ton crew on to main­tain the mill premises and did so un­til


Early in 1940, along with other sites in On­tario, the Es­panola mill was se­lected to house cap­tured en­emy per­son­nel. Es­panola POW Camp #21 or Camp ‘E’ as it was orig­i­nally called, be­gan op­er­a­tions on July

7, 1940. Cana­dian mil­i­tary per­son­nel and about

70 civil­ians be­gan work on the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties at the Es­panola mill prop­erty, erected new build­ings, and put up barbed wire fences and guard posts.

The first train load of 490 pris­on­ers of war ar­rived on July 14, 1940 and were es­corted into Es­panola by the On­tario Tank Reg­i­ment (OTR). Within a few days the num­ber of pris­on­ers had grown to 1,400. There were about 500 camp staff and guards who oc­cu­pied the fenced off build­ings near­est the mill.

On Aug. 10, 1940, the OTR re­lin­quished their du­ties to the Vet­er­ans Guard who were made up of First World War vet­er­ans, some of whom were from Es­panola and the sur­round­ing area. The Ger­man sol­diers were treated very well in Camp #21. In the hot sum­mer months, they played sports and even were pa­raded through town to go up to Clear Lake for a swim from time to time, ac­cord­ing to Gal­lagher’s records. About 100 pris­on­ers worked out­side the POW camp, work­ing on road con­struc­tion, be­ing paid 25 cents a day. There were some at­tempts at es­cape, but they were al­ways caught, said Gal­lagher.

The large, coloured map of the world was painted on the in­te­rior wall of the ground floor of the mill. Ac­cord­ing to Gal­lagher there are two sto­ries about the ori­gins of the map. The first was that a group of Ger­man Luft­waffe (air force) nav­i­ga­tors painted it in hours with hand mixed enam­els. The se­cond and most likely story, says Gal­lagher, is the map was done by one man over a pe­riod of months. The in­for­ma­tion that has been recorded was that an­other pris­oner at Camp ‘E’, Al­fred Peter­mann, a Luft­waffe fighter pilot who spent two years in the camp, said that the map was painted by Sergeant Ma­jor Ein­haus, a Luft­waffe nav­i­ga­tor, and a ge­og­ra­phy teacher in civil­ian life.

It is sus­pected that the pris­on­ers knew the pro­gres­sion of the war be­cause painted on the map, were Ja­panese flags mark­ing Ja­pan’s ad­vances. Gal­lagher says that the guards prob­a­bly brought in news­pa­pers for the pris­on­ers, which would have war in­for­ma­tion and the pris­on­ers had an il­le­gal short-wave ra­dio.

When Pa­trick Parker was mill man­ager, he had a room built around the painted map in or­der to pre­serve this unique his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit the Es­panola and Area His­tory Face­book group.

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