Camp History & Information
Camp Location and Composition
Camp B/70 (the official name of the Maritimes' only Second World War internment camp), while often referred to as the Fredericton Internment Camp, was actually located about 30 km (19 mi) east of Fredericton in the rural community of Ripples. In addition to its remote location that would render escape nearly impossible for its internees, the site was also chosen because there was preexisting infrastructure on site due to an unemployment relief camp that had existed there during the depression, the camp was in fairly close proximity to the Ripples Train Station, and there was plenty of lumber to provide work for the internees.
Camp B/70 had total of 58 acres, which included a 15 acre fenced in prison compound. It was one of 26 such camps across Canada and (as previously mentioned) the only one in the Maritime Provinces. There were 5 rows of barbwire and 6 machine gun towers. The camp consisted of 52 buildings, including 14 in the prisoner compound.
The first people housed at the camp were primarily German and Austrian Jews. Many of the 711 Jewish men and teenage boys sent to the camp had escaped from the brutal holocaust of Nazi Germany and fled to England. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, not knowing where the loyalty of these Jewish people lay, asked Canada and Australia to house these refugees. After a year, the government of Great Britain realized that many people among the refugees could contribute to the war effort. The internees were given the choice to return to England and join their military, or obtain a sponsor to remain in Canada or the United States. Many contributed to the fields of medicine, the arts and business, some leading to international recognition. One name to remember is Fritz (Frederich) Bender, an inventor who went to Ottawa where he furthered his work to waterproof plywood, which led to the development of the mosquito bomber.
Dr. Friz Bender (on the left sawing wood) was a Phase I internee who developed the technology to waterproof plywood.
The camp was closed for three weeks between the two phases to allow for the preparation of a larger and more diverse group of POW's. During the following 4 years the camp housed captured German and Italian Merchant Marines and Canadians who may have spoken out against the war effort. One such person who spent three years behind barbed wire at the camps was Camillien Houde, Mayor of Montreal, who supported Italy and disagreed with certain Canadian Government initiatives.
The guards were composed of veterans of the first world war who had enlisted, but were denied active duty and put on the Veterans Guard roster. There were 350 guards, but they would be rotated periodically among the other 25 camps in Canada.
Veteran Guard Group Photograph
The internees worked mainly in the forest cutting the 2500 cords of wood required each year to keep the 100 wood stoves in the camp burning. The internees, organized into work crews, received 20 cents a day for their labour as wood cutters or helpers in the kitchen, hospital, library, canteen and dormitory huts.
What Happened to the Camp
After the war, the 52 buildings on the site were sold to individuals and businesses in the surrounding towns and villages and moved. A small number of these buildings continue to be used as homes or summer cottages in the Minto and Grand Lake areas.
The base of the water tower is one of the only remaining structures on the camp site.