Ukrainian Canadian Internment - 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 Austro-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.

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 20 June 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.

A list of the camps follows:

Name of Camp / Location Date of opening Date of closing Description
Montreal, Quebec 13 August 1914 30 November 1918 Immigration Hall
Kingston, Ontario 18 August 1914 3 November 1917 Fort Henry
Winnipeg, Manitoba 1 September 1914 20 July 1916 Fort Osborne Barracks / Fort Garry
Halifax, Nova Scotia 8 September 1914 3 October 1918 The Citadel
Vernon, British Columbia 18 September 1914 20 February 1920 Provincial Government Building
Nanaimo, British Columbia 20 September 1914 17 September 1915 Provincial Government Building
Brandon, Manitoba 22 September 1914 29 July 1916 Exhibition Building
Lethbridge, Alberta 30 September 1914 7 November 1916 Exhibition Building
Petawawa, Ontario 10 December 1914 8 May 1916 Militia Camp / Tents
Toronto, Ontario 14 December 1914 2 October 1916 Stanley Barracks
Kapuskasing, Ontario 14 December 1914 24 February 1920 Bunk Houses
Niagara Falls, Ontario 15 December 1915 31 August 1918 The Armoury
Beauport, Quebec 28 December 1914 22 June 1916 The Armoury
Spirit Lake, Quebec 13 January 1915 28 January 1917 Bunk Houses
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario 13 January 1915 29 January 1918 The Armoury
Amherst, Nova Scotia 17 April 1915 27 September 1919 Malleable Iron Works
Monashee-Mara Lake,
British Columbia
2 June 1915 29 July 1917 Tents & Bunk Houses
British Columbia
9 June 1915 21 October 1918 Rented Premises
Banff-Castle Mountain and Cave & Basin, Alberta 14 July 1915 15 July 1917 Dominion Park Building at Cave & Basin, Tents at Castle Mountain
Edgewood, British Columbia 19 August 1915 23 September 1916 Bunk Houses
Revelstoke-Field-Otter, British Columbia 6 September 1915 23 October 1916 Bunk Houses
Jasper, Alberta 8 February 1916 31 August 1916 Dominion Parks Buildings
Munson, Alberta-
Eaton, Saskatchewan
13 October 1918 21 March 1919 Railway Cars
Valcartier, Quebec 24 April 1915 23 October 1915 Militia Camp / Tents

Read more about this topic:  Ukrainian Canadian Internment

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