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Chopping down trees outside the barbed wire of Camp B in New Brunswick helped time pass and left men tired enough to sleep at night. The Camp B guards, veterans of the First World War, knew the prisoners could not escape through the dense bush. They would build fires and nap, while the refugees agreed to wake the guards if commanding officers came to check on their progress.

In all the camps, internees created makeshift businesses to fill the needs of other prisoners. Those who worked on cleaning details, dishwashing, and in kitchens were paid from the profits made by the canteens.

By December 1941, many were employed by the “Works Programme.” Internees produced various defence items: camouflage nets, ammunition boxes, and socks. Skilled draughtsmen were employed by private industries to make technical drawings. Paid between twenty and fifty cents a day, the refugees amassed large profits for the Programme. They knew they were being exploited. Although pleased to aid the Allied cause, the knowledge that, with freedom, they could make a much more valuable contribution, and one of their choice, caused increasing bitterness.

The success of this small industrial empire set up by the camp administrations was a mixed blessing. Officers tried to block refugee releases from internment, claiming that they were essential to the war effort.

Former internees discuss work. Video

Former internees discuss work.

A dossier of images about work. Dossier

A collection of images relating to work.

Camp Boys
in the classroom


Camp Boys
Through internee testimony, students learn about the conditions of internment in Canada, and explore a variety of primary sources relating to the responses of the “camp boys” to internment.


Internment in Canada


Map: Canadian Internment Camps (77Kb PDF)


Internment in Canada

Complete Teachers’ Guide to Enemy Aliens
PDF 7.8 MB

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