A plaque along Highway 97A in Mara commemorates the location of a First World War internment camp, and the people held there. Canadian internment operations ended 100 years ago this month, on June 20. (Lawrna Myers photo)

End of Mara internment camp to be commemorated

Camp was on Mara Lake along Highway 97A; shut down in 1917

During Canada’s First national internment operations of 1914-1920, thousands of men, women and children were branded as “enemy aliens.”

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.

Such a camp was located in the Shuswap, at Mara Lake, where a plaque is erected on Highway 97A, commemorating its existence and the people held at the camp from June 2, 1915, to July 29, 1917.

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, 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.

READ MORE: Book offers glimpse into internment camp



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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