Enemy Aliens

Imagine people betraying you because of your ancestral roots

Historical Significance

An enemy alien is any native, citizen, or subject of any foreign nation or government with which a domestic nation or government is in conflict with. When WWI broke out in Canada, there were about 500,000 German, Australian, and Hungarian people living in Canada, and rumours of spies and sabotage quickly fled. In response to these pressures, the government placed restrictions on them using the "War Measures Act"- an act that allows them to by-pass parliament and do things they felt were necessary for the war." This is relatively important, as it shows that even the government, an organization that believes in equality, is stripping away people's lives, even if they've done nothing wrong.

The concentration camps

Over 8600 "enemy aliens" were held in these labour camps during WWI. The conditions were harsh, the men worked long hours, and were often poorly fed and clothed. We even got a quote from one man, stating:


"Mr. Spade, who was German, lived at 2 or 4 Jersey Avenue in Toronto. At that time we lived at number 14. This happened after supper because I didn't see it, but I heard them talk about it. A whole gang of men came around and got him and they took him over to Clinton Street. They tarred and feathered him. Why I don't know. Except he was German".

Enemy Aliens, Canadian History

Questions to reflect on

Is the War Measures act justifiable to the people of Canada?


Would the founding fathers approve of this?


How safe does being Canadian make us?


Will this limit Canada in it's future to become independent?


Did the government consider the loss of resources and economy decrease by doing this?


If it can be said that the war on the homeland was for democracy, like the woman's rights, then isn't it contradicting that these men and women lost their fundamental rights, just because their grandparent were German?


Did the government push it too far with the censorship of "enemy culture and literature"?

The Enemy at Home

Oppressed by the British man

One of the main reasons these people immigrated to Canada before the war was to escape militarism and oppression in their home countries. But it was happening again in WWI, and some of the people gave in and showed their loyalty to the British. These people were clearly being oppressed, and real Canadians showed no significant support for them. In fact, they were the reason the problem existed in the first place!

To sum up..

As a final statement:

Is your Canadian citizenship enough to keep your rights,or will you be thrown into a camp because of you ancestral roots?