A plaque is erected at Vernon’s MacDonald Park at what was once the site of a First World War Internment Camp from 1914-1920. The 100th anniversary of the end of the camps is Saturday, June 20. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Okanagan internment camps shut down 100 years ago

Vernon and District Family History Society to commemorate end of internment operations

A significant milestone in Vernon turns 100 this month.

The Vernon and District Family History Society is commemorating the end of Canada’s First National Internment Operations from 1914 – 1920. The 100th anniversary is on Saturday, June 20.

“During Canada’s First national internment operations of 1914-1920, thousands of men, women and children were branded as“enemy aliens,” wrote the society. “Deprived of their freedom, stripped of what little wealth they had, some were forced to do heavy labour and all suffered various other state-sanctioned censures including disenfranchisement; not because of anything they had done but only because of where they had come from, who they were.”

A plaque at Vernon’s MacDonald Park – site of a local First World War internment camp – is dedicated to the memory of the men, women and children who were interned there between Sept. 18, 1914 and Feb. 20, 1920.

Thousands of Ukrainians and other Europeans, including Bulgarians, Croatians, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Italians, Jews, various people from the Ottoman Empire, Poles, Romanian, Russians, Serbians, Slovaks, Slovenes, among others were needlessly imprisoned in 24 internment camps across Canada.

Many were located in the country’s frontier hinterlands, and in some cases, internees were without adequate food and clothing to suit the conditions. Some women and children were held in two camps across Canada, one in Vernon and the other in Spirit Lake,Que.

In other areas, women struggled to support their families while their husbands were interned.

There were internment camps at Vernon, Mara Lake, Monashee, Mt. Revelstoke, Field and Edgewood. Vernon was the permanent internment camp for British Columbia.

Vernon and District Family History Society will present the documentary “That Never Happened” at a later date. Two seasons of YouTube vignettes can be viewed at “The Camps.”

VDFHS has valuable resources available to research your ancestors. During the isolation access to Ancestry is available online. For membership inquiries contact verfamhist@shaw.ca. You will find access to free resources online at VDFHS.com. You may have ancestors who are connected to the Internment.

This project has been made possible by a grant from the Endowment Council of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund.

For further information contact verfamhist@shaw.ca.

READ MORE: Vernon part of end of internment camp ceremonies

READ MORE: Book offers glimpse into internment camp



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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