April 25, 2012


When one speaks of Internment Camps they think of WWII and Japanese Americans but Internment Camps existed before. In WWI, Canada interred Ukrainians and others considered a threat including Germans, women weren't interred. One of those interred was a relative named Friedrich Gerull. We do not know who Friedrick was to my grandfather but he was a relative because a post card sent to Friedrich while interred is currently in our possession as well as other photos we thought didn't exist. Photos to follow soon.

Most of the POWs of German nationality and German-speaking Austrians were separated from the other internees and placed into a "first-class" category. This meant that they were generally kept in relatively more comfortable camps, such as the one established in Fort Henry, near Kingston, Ontario However, the majority of those described as "Austrians" (on lists of prisoners these men were often more precisely categorized as "Galicians" of "Greek [Ukrainian] Catholic" religious affiliation or as "Ruthenians", although the word Ukrainian was also used in some official reports) were sent to work sites in Canada's hinterland, to places like Spirit Lake, Quebec; Castle Mountain, Alberta; and Otter Creek, British Columbia There they were obliged not only to construct the internment camps but to work on road-building, land-clearing, wood-cutting, and railway construction projects As the need for soldiers overseas led to a shortage of workers in Canada, many of these "Austrian" internees were released on parole to work for private companies, the federal and provincial governments, and the railway companies. Their pay was fixed at a rate equivalent to that of a soldier, which was less than what they might have expected to make if they had been able to offer their labour in the marketplace. As General Otter dryly noted, this "system proved a great advantage to the organizations short of labour". Thus, the internment operations not only uprooted families but also allowed for exploitation of many of the internees' labour.

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