From 1939 to 1947, German Prisoners of War, Enemy Merchant Seamen, and Civilian Internees were held in twenty-eight different locations in Canada. While thousands were eventually employed in small, low-security labour projects, these twenty-eight camps formed the backbone of Canadian internment operations.
As part of my research for my PhD, I am attempting to map all of the PoW internment camps and labour projects in Canada during the Second World War. Having found a series of maps of individual camps and their locations, I was now able to plot the exact locations of each internment camp in the country.
These clearly show the concentration of internment camps in Southern Alberta, Southern Ontario, and Southern Quebec. While we may like to think of internment camps to be placed in isolated and remote regions of the country, it may come as a surprise to see them so close to Canadian civilian centres. Many of these internment camps were on the boundaries of town or city limits while others, like in Kingston, Sherbrooke, and Mimico, were within them.
While little physical evidence remains today, these sites remind us just how close the Second World War came to home. For a listing of these camps, please click here.
2 thoughts on “Mapping Canada’s Internment Camps”
I think for me, a young Canadian who has lived only here, it’s difficult to think of war that is “close to home.” I can’t imagine what it was like for civilians and prisoners alike having an internment camp basically in someone’s backyard.
No kidding! Or prisoners wandering through your backyard (as at Riding Mountain), prisoners working on your farm and living in your house, prisoners drinking at a bar with a guard, or prisoners just wandering around downtown Calgary (I’ll save that for a future blog post)!