Mary Chaktsiris


Over 8,000 people identified as enemy aliens were interned in Canada during the Great War. Another 80,000 people were required to register with authorities and report regularly. This article presents an overview of historiography about First World War internment in Canada from 1914 to 1920 and explores the changing internment and registration regulations during that period. The results suggest that narratives about First World War internment sit uncomfortably within a Canadian historiography focused on a nation-building narrative. During the Great War, the ability to use wartime legislation to control populations viewed as problematic overshadowed government claims that the internment of enemy aliens was principally about national security. Internment regulations consistently changed over time and were unevenly enforced, leaving both citizens and authorities unsure about their responsibilities. These changes serve as an important reminder that regulations about national security are not carried out in isolation, and they usually involve other contributing social and economic pressures and prejudices.