100 years since Vernon internment camp was shut down

Vernon's internment history

On June 20, it will have been 100 years since a Vernon internment camp was shut down.

Canada locked up thousands of residents deemed "enemy aliens" from 1914 to 1920.

The men, women and children had what little they had taken away from them, and were forced to work heavy manual labour. They were disenfranchised solely based on their heritage and countries of origin.

Vernon's internment camp was at the site of what is now MacDonald Park, and there is a plaque at the site commemorating those who were forced to live there, behind barbed wire.

There were 24 internment camps across Canada, and B.C.'s camps were at Vernon, Monashee, Mt. Revelstoke, Mara Lake, Field, and Edgewood.

There were only two camps in Canada that housed woman and children – one was here in Vernon, the other was in Spirit Lake, Que. At the other camps, families were separated. Women and children were forced to live on their own as their husbands and fathers were interned.

The majority of the camp populations were Ukranian, but many other nationalities and ethnicities were held there as well. Bulgarians, Croatians, Germans, Czechs, Hungarians, Italians, Jews, Poles, Romanians, Russians, Serbians, Slovaks, Slovenes, and people from the Ottoman Empire were also internees at the camps.

To commemorate the end of Vernon's internment camp, the Vernon and District Family History Society will present the documentary “That Never Happened” at a future date. Two seasons of short YouTube videos called 'The Camps' can be found here.

More Vernon News