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Freddy Grant, who had been in England since 1934 composing songs for movies, musicals and entertainers including Gracie Fields, was the shining talent of Camp Q and then A. Using donated instruments, Grant organized spectacular shows. The performances’ themes usually made light of internment, raising the spirits of those involved and all who came to watch. There were also classical music performances by accomplished pianists such as John Newmark and Helmut Blume. Theatrical productions starred professional actors like Anton Diffring, who later became a stock figure in British films about the Second World War, usually playing a Nazi. The camp audiences included officers and guards.

Artists such as Oscar Cahén, Walter Ruhman, Kurt Wiehs and Robert Langstadt polished their talents with donated supplies. Their drawings illustrated camp newspapers and decorated barren huts. According to a report in the Camp A Newspaper, one exhibition of nudes “was ordered either to be clothed, or to be closed down.”

For Walter Igersheimer, the arts meant that there was “still the love of music in us,” despite internment and the horrors many had endured in Europe. Igersheimer suggested that by distracting themselves with entertainment, the camp boys could “prevent [their] descent into despair and hopelessness.”

Former internees discuss the arts. Video

Former internees discuss the arts.

A dossier of images about the arts. Dossier

A collection of images relating to the arts.

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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