Despite its tedium and the petty tyrannies of the administration, internment was a learning experience for many. Among the prisoners were some of the leading intellectuals, political activists and artists of Germany and Austria. They mixed with university students, youngsters from yeshivas (Orthodox Jewish seminaries), and merchant seamen to create a remarkable forum for learning and exchange.
With so many students, so much talent and so strong a desire to study, the internees organized schools in every camp. Using materials donated from advocacy agencies, internee teachers provided academic, religious and technical training. Everyone learned English.
In Camp N alone there were seven different educational programs that operated simultaneously. Instructors included Max Ferdinand Perutz, who went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1962, two economists, five lawyers (three held doctorates), one art historian, a professor of international relations, eight medical doctors, a dental surgeon, and two rabbis expert in the history of religion and Semitic languages. In fact, it was commonly proclaimed that each camp had enough learned men to staff several universities. Internees were eventually permitted to write McGill matriculation exams that enabled them to apply for entrance to Canadian universities.