Canada's First World War Internment Operations


Hub of BC's Internment Camps

The land upon which Vernon was built has been home to the Syilx Okanagan people for thousands of years. European settlement first began in the early 1800s, with a steady influx of fur traders, missionaries, miners, and ranchers. By 1885, enough Europeans had settled in the region that a townsite was laid out, and shortly thereafter the community was officially named Vernon, after an early rancher. With the arrival of a railway line in 1891, the town grew much more quickly and was incorporated as a city. By the outbreak of the First World War, Vernon was prospering. It was also home to an important militia unit: the Okanagan Mounted Rifles. Soon after the war started, the federal government designated Vernon as the site of a large internment camp for so-called "enemy aliens." This camp was established on the grounds of the asylum, on what we today know as Macdonald Park. <<>> *Video credit: Armistice Films*

This project has been made possible by a grant from the Endowment Council of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund.

We respectfully acknowledge that Vernon is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people.

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Then and Now Photos

Internees on Parade

Internees on Parade Internees on Parade

Library and Archives 3379298


An audience watches internees in white summer clothes on parade during an afternoon of diversions at Vernon's Internment Camp.

Internee Families

Internee Families Internee Families

Vernon Museum and Archives


Several families of internees, including a number of young children, pose for a photo in the first-class section of the camp.

Wind Mill

Wind Mill Wind Mill

Library and Archives Canada 3379299


Several internees, including a couple men, women, a child, and a dog, pose for a photo beside a pole that has been fitted with an ornamental windmill. The internees had a lot of time for woodworking in the Vernon camp.

Children at Play

Children at Play Children at Play

Malysh Private Collection


A group of interned children are photographed at the moment of the start of a footrace.

The Asylum in Winter

The Asylum in Winter The Asylum in Winter

Vancouver Archives AM54-S4-2-: CVA 371-2192

ca. 1915

A side view of the old asylum building during winter months.