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Internment in Canada

Upon arrival in Canada, the refugees were spread out in makeshift prisoner of war camps in New Brunswick, Québec and Ontario. While some commandants and guards displayed tolerance – if not sympathy – for their prisoners, others combined anti-German and anti-Jewish attitudes when dealing with them. After a visit to Camp N in Sherbrooke, a military observer noted “strictness arbitrarily applied,…rude and appalling language and indulgence in antisemitic remarks [which] are particularly objectionable.”

Meanwhile, refugees interned in England were quickly gaining release and most were soon engaged in the war effort. The British, admitting their error, informed Canada that the refugees could be returned to freedom in Britain, although made it clear that they preferred that they be released into the safety of Canada. But Canada had resisted pressures in the past to grant admission to Jewish refugees, and officials were determined not to let Jews gain entry through the “back door” of internment.

Those who wished to join the British Pioneer Corps (a non-fighting unit) were soon able to return to Britain. Also released were scientists who had been working on top-secret military intelligence technology, and a few others needed for war-related work. The rest languished behind barbed wire in Canadian camps; some would stay there for as long as three years. They called themselves the “camp boys.”

Former internees discuss the camp system. Video

Former internees discuss the camp system.

A dossier of images about Canadian internment camps. Dossier

A collection of images relating to Canadian internment camps.

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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