You might be wondering if I am referring to residential schools. But no, I am talking about the internment camps in World War I and II – right on Canadian Soil. For Germans. Japanese. Ukranians. Austrians, Hungarians. For anyone they considered “enemy aliens.” They are listed here:
Amherst, Nova Scotia Malleable Iron Foundry April 1915 to September 1919
Beauport, Quebec The Armoury December 1914 to June 1916
Banff-Castle Mountain, Alberta Dominion Park July 1915 to July 1917
Brandon, Manitoba Exhibition Building September 1914 to July 1916
Edgewood, British Columbia Bunk Houses August 1915 to September 1916
Fernie-Morrissey, British Columbia Rented premises June 1915 to October 1918
Halifax, Nova Scotia The Citadel September 1914 to October 1918
Jasper, Alberta Dominion Park February 1916 to August 1916
Kapuskasing, Ontario Bunk Houses December 1914 to February 1920
Kingston, Ontario Fort Henry August 1914 to November 1917
Lethbridge, Alberta Exhibition Building September 1914 to November 1916
Monashee-Mara Lake, British Columbia Tents and Bunkhouses June 1915 to July 1917
Montreal, Quebec Immigration Hall August 1914 to November 1918
Munson-Eaton, Alberta Railway Cars October 1918 to March 1919
Nanaimo, British Columbia Provincial government building September 1914 to September 1915
Niagara Falls, Ontario The Armoury December 1914 to August 1918
Petawawa, Ontario Militia Camp December 1914 to May 1916
Revelstoke-Field-Otter, British Columbia Bunk Houses September 1915 to October 1916
Sault-St-Marie, Ontario The Armoury January 1915 to January 1918
Spirit Lake, Quebec Bunk Houses January 1915 to January 1917
Toronto, Ontario Stanley Barracks December 1914 to October 1916
Winnipeg, Manitoba Fort Osborne September 1914 to July 1916
Valcartier, Quebec Militia Camp April 1915 to October 1915
Vernon, British Columbia Provincial government building September 1914 to February 1920
World War II Info
German Canadian internment
During the Second World War, 850 German Canadians were accused of being spies for the Nazis, as well as subversives and saboteurs. The internees were given a chance by authorities to defend themselves; according to the transcripts of the appeal tribunals, internees and state officials debated conflicting concepts of citizenship.
Many German Canadians interned in Camp Petawawa were from a nineteenth-century migration in 1876. They had arrived in a small area a year after a Polish migration landed in Wilno, Ontario. Their hamlet, made up of farmers primarily, was called Germanicus, and is in the bush less than 10 miles from Eganville, Ontario. Their farms (homesteads originally) were expropriated by the federal government for no compensation, and the men were imprisoned behind barbed wire in the AOAT camp. (The Foymount Air Force Base near Cormac and Eganville was built on this expropriated land.) Notable was that not one of these homesteaders from 1876 or their descendants had ever visited Germany again after 1876, yet they were accused of being German Nazi agents.
756 German sailors, mostly captured in East Asia were sent from camps in India to Canada in June 1941 (Camp 33).
World War I Info
In World War I, 8,579 male “aliens of enemy nationality” were interned, including 5,954 Austro-Hungarians, including ethnic Ukrainians, and Croatians. Many of these internees were used for forced labour in internment camps.
The Ukrainian Canadian internment was part of the confinement of “enemy aliens” in Canada during and for two years after the end of the First World War, lasting from 1914 to 1920, under the terms of the War Measures Act that would be used again, in the Second World War, against Japanese Canadians.
About 4,000 Ukrainian men and some women and children of Austro-Hungarian citizenship were kept in twenty-four internment camps and related work sites — also known, at the time, as concentration camps.
Many were released in 1916 to help with the mounting labour shortage. Another 80,000 were registered as “enemy aliens” and obliged to regularly report to the police. Those interned had whatever little wealth they owned confiscated and were forced to work for the profit of their gaolers.Internment
Most of those interned were young men apprehended while trying to cross the border into the U.S. to look for jobs; attempting to leave Canada was illegal.During the First World War, a growing sentiment against “enemy aliens” had manifested itself amongst Canadians. The British government urged Canada not to act indiscriminately against subject nationalities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire who were in fact friendly to the British Empire.
However, Ottawa took a hard line. These enemy-born citizens were treated as social pariahs, and many lost their employment. Under the 1914 War Measures Act, “aliens of enemy nationality” were compelled to register with authorities. About 70,000 Ukrainians from Austria-Hungary fell under this description. 8,579 males and some women and children were interned by the Canadian Government, including 5,954 Austro-Hungarians, most of whom were probably ethnic Ukrainians. Most of the interned were poor or unemployed single men, although 81 women and 156 children (mainly Germans in Vernon and Ukrainians at Spirit Lake) had no choice but to accompany their menfolk to two of the camps, in Spirit Lake, near Amos, Quebec, and Vernon, British Columbia. Some of the internees were Canadian-born and others were naturalized British subjects, although most were recent immigrants. Citizens of the Russian Empire were generally not interned.
Commemorative statue and damaged plaque at the “Ukrainian cemetery” of the Kapuskasing Internment Camp; Kapuskasing, northern Ontario
Commemorative stone at the Saskatchewan Railway Museum, formerly “Eaton Siding” near the Eaton Internment Camp, one of twenty-four, where 8,579 civilians were interned. It reads “Fortitude. To the memory of those who were interned at this site during the Great War. Eaton Internment Camp 1919.”
Many of these internees were used for forced labour in internment camps. Conditions at the camps varied, and the Castle Mountain Internment Camp where labour contributed to the creation of Banff National Park — was considered exceptionally harsh and abusive. The internment continued for two more years after the war had ended, although most Ukrainians were paroled into jobs for private companies by 1917. Even as parolees, they were still required to report regularly to the police authorities. Federal and provincial governments and private concerns benefited from the internees’ labour and from the confiscation of what little wealth they had, a portion of which was left in the Bank of Canada at the end of the internment operations on June 20, 1920. A small number of internees, including men considered to be “dangerous foreigners”, labour radicals, or particularly troublesome internees, were deported to Europe after the war, largely from the Kapuskasing camp, which was the last to be shut down.
Of those interned, 109 died of various diseases and injuries sustained in the camp, six were killed while trying to escape, and some — according to Sir William Dillon Otter’s final report — went insane or committed suicide as a result of their confinement.
About the Author
Elke is a connector, a promoter, a writer and a blogger who loves to build community, attend events and network with other entrepreneurs. Whether you need help with advertising, public relations, social media or communications, she is there for her clients.