June 24, 2016 - 9:00 PM
VERNON - Most who stop at the nondescript pullout 12 kilometres from the Gold Panner Cafe on Highway 6 have no idea it is the site of a former World War One internment camp.
That will change on Saturday, June 25, when the Cherryville and Area Historical Society unveils a plaque recognizing European immigrants who were interned at what was known as the Monashee Mountain camp.
“It’s not really history to be proud of, but to be recognized,” society president Charolette Hanaghan says.
Hanaghan has a unique connection to this forgotten piece of history. Her great grandfather delivered supplies there during the camp’s short operation between May 18, 1915, to July 31, 1915. The camp was located 17 km from the family home and he would make the trip by horse and cart carrying eggs, wood and other supplies, Hanaghan says.
According to records and newspaper clippings from the time, the camp held roughly 250 to 300 prisoners, all of them men, Hanaghan says. Relics of the camp can still be found there, but she says most community members have little knowledge about the dark past there.
“There’s the odd older person who remembers hearing about it, but there’s no indication anywhere,” Hanaghan says of the unmarked site.
Another thing drivers who stop to stretch there legs at this pullout might not know is that the prisoners interned at the camp actually helped build Edgewood Road — which eventually became Highway 6.
“They had everything there, they had all their supplies. There was no hardship I don’t think except that they were detained. They had barbed wire enclosures,” Hanaghan says.
While unpleasant, she believes the camp is part of our history and should be acknowledged.
“It’s unfortunate this is what happened. We don’t want to make the same mistakes over again,” she says.
An unveiling ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow, June 25, at the Mine Hill pullout on Highway 6. Funding for the historical sign was provided by the Canadian First World War Recognition Fund.
An exhibit about the camp is also on display at the Cherryville Museum, located at the Gold Panner Campground.
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