History of Neys

Neys is a biblical term meaning a place of refuge.

Neys Provincial Park was once a Prisoner of War camp where hundreds of German inmates lived. These men were imprisoned from 1941-1946. The German POW (Prisoners of War) were divided into two categories the “greys” and the”blacks”. The “greys” were ordinary soldiers while the “blacks” were considered potentially violent and an escape risk. Little security measures were taken because the impenetrable shore of Lake Superior formed a natural barrier.

This did not deter some prisoners from trying to escape. One creative instance occurred when a prisoner whittled a pair of wooden skates in hopes of skating over to the American border after the Lake froze; to his disappointment he learned that Lake Superior did not freeze over in the winter.

At the end of the war, Neys became a processing camp for all POW detained in Northwestern Ontario , and then was turned into a minimum security work camp for prisoners from the Thunder Bay area. The camp was dismantled in 1954, and ten years later the area was designated a Natural Environment Park .

Today visitors to Neys Provincial Park can follow trails to the remains of the POW camp, building foundations and rusty barbed wire.