by Mary L.
The creation of an internment camp in Brandon is a highly overlooked chapter in the history of the city. The camp was used to detain hundreds of innocent immigrants, most of whom came from what we now know as Ukraine. Many Brandonites and others were worried about these immigrants taking jobs from British Canadians. Therefore, the internment camp was an ethnically-motivated, long-term solution to immediate economic problems. When internees were released from the camp, they were sent to build roads and clear farmland at extremely low wages. Brandon elites then feared the poverty immigrants suffered would lead to a revolution as socialism gained popularity.
The second floor of the winter fair building was used for the detainment of over 900 “enemy aliens” from 1914-1916. The building later burned down in 1920.
Many of those held in Canadian internment camps were Ukrainian men separated from their families, who had immigrated to Canada with hopes of finding work, buying farmland, and becoming homesteaders. Many of these internees had lived in Canada for years before being unrightfully detained.
Although all records of the internment camp were destroyed in the 1950s, some evidence of the camp still exists. This memorial plaque was installed so the history of the camp would not be forgotten.