Home > CMH > Vol. 29 (2020) > Iss. 2
First World War Internment in Canada: Enemy Aliens and the Blurring of the Military/Civilian Distinction
In Canada during the First World War, where aliens of enemy origin were increasingly without work and destitute, internment offered a solution. Interned as prisoners of war (POWs)—a designation that sanctioned voluntary work unrelated to the war—such individuals were sent to frontier labour camps. Their POW designation, however, afforded them certain protections under the laws of war while their status as civilian prisoners suggested they were entitled to even greater consideration than captured combatants. Yet it was precisely their status as civilians that obviated any such consideration. They were not POWs as was conventionally understood. They were interned civilians without rights—enemy aliens—and would be treated as such. This blurring of the military/civilian distinction in Canada would lead to the mistreatment of interned enemy aliens and in the process define the First World War Canadian internment experience.
Kordan, Bohdan S. "First World War Internment in Canada: Enemy Aliens and the Blurring of the Military/Civilian Distinction." Canadian Military History 29, 2 (2020)