The products of internment

To keep the prisoners busy, and to cut the cost of maintenance,
various infrastructure and land development projects were worked on by the internees.

Provinces took advantage of this cheap labour, paid at half the price of Canadian-born workers, to clear and render accessible their underdeveloped hinterlands.

forestry

mining

land-clearing

At the present time the Dominion Government has a large number of prisoners of war, whose labor it is anxious to utilize. Accordingly, arrangements are being made to set these prisoners to work at once in clearing up the land for the proposed experimental farm, so that it will be ready for cultivation next season.

“PRISONERS OF WAR TO CLEAR NEW FARM: Ontario Government Arranges for 1,000- Acre Experimental Farm in North Country, and Will Utilize Labor of Interned Alien Enemies at Once” in The Globe (December 11, 1914).

These projects involved forestry, mining, land clearing for agriculture and other labour-intensive activities. Ontario expanded agricultural land to the West, British Columbia developed roads into the Rocky Mountains, and Quebec attempted to develop the Abitibi region. A golf course in Banff National Park was completed usinginterned labour. 

Otter Internment Camp, Yoho National Park B.C. 1916, Library and Archives Canada, C-081360

By 1916, labour shortages became so acute that the Canadian Government sent internees to work in factories, resulting in 75% of the camps being shut down, including one of the largest in Spirit Lake, Quebec. These Enemy Aliens were released, usually to work in mines or in the railroad industry, provided they sign a parole document demanding loyalty, adherence to the law, and periodical reports to the nearest police authority.