The Treatment of “Enemy Aliens” during the First World War
Fears that Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, and other “enemy aliens” constituted an internal threat to Canada were part of the country’s mentality during the war. Thousands experienced imprisonment, sharing the fate of William PERCHALUK:
“William Perchaluk was among the more than 170,000 Ukrainians, primarily from the Austro-Hungarian empire, who came to Canada prior to World War I as agricultural settlers and industrial labourers. He became one of the 5,954 immigrants from Austria-Hungary confined in Canadian receiving stations and internment camps during the war. There they built roads, erected and repaired buildings, and cleared and drained land. Although intended to house unnaturalized enemy aliens who had contravened regulations or were security threats, the camps in practice held the destitute and unemployed. Nativist pressure and prejudice were also factors through which individuals, some of them naturalized British subjects, ended up in the camps. As the majority of internees posed no threat to security, by 1916 most had been paroled back into the labour force.”
For more information on this subject, please consult Ethnicity and Race, and the following biographies.