Slave labour in Yoho Park

Another edition in a web series examining Canada's First World War internment camps has been released.

Ryan Boyko, of Armistice Films, has travelled the country producing documentaries on the internment camps that housed thousands of people almost 100 years ago.

The documentaries, entitled The Camps, feature interviews with internee descendants, archeologists, scholars and the military on why these internment operations are relevant today, 100 years later.

There were 24 such camps across the country, including one in Vernon.

The Vernon camp housed men, women and children of mostly Ukrainian decent and was located where WL Seaton Secondary School currently sits.

The latest documentary features the camp in what is now Yoho National Park.

Bradley Bischoff retraces the steps of internees in Yoho National Park and recounts his time as a Parks Canada Park warden.

“There were approximately 200 men interned there,” Bischoff says in the documentary. “Many Eastern European men were there working on roads and the railroad for the Dominion government.”

The Yoho camp was a place of hardship as snow and frigid temperatures made life miserable for the men trapped there.

Bischoff said the internees were so desperate to escape they started to dig a tunnel, but the tunnel was discovered only three metres “from the bush and their freedom.”

The Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund (CFWWIRF) has set up a digital map that contains more than 5,000 digitized news articles dating from 1914-20, describing opinion of the time and showing the hardship endured by new immigrants who were invited to Canada and then had their civil and human rights taken away by the War Measures Act.

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