Castle Mountain Internment Camp
Castle Mountain Internment Camp (1915-1917) - A World War I Canadian internment camp established in 1915 near Castle Mountain, Alberta, Canada. Abandoned in 1917.
A World War I Canadian internment camp established in July 1915 near Castle Mountain, Alberta, Canada.
Twenty-nine internment camps were established by the Canadian Government under the War Measures Act of 1914 to house interned enemy aliens, including immigrants who had not yet been naturalized. Within the camps internees were divided by class and ethnicity. First class internees were German officers and civilian equivalents while second class internees were generally Austro-Hungarian workers or laborers, mostly Ukrainians.
In western Canada four of the camps were located in national parks while in eastern Canada camps were located in military facilities including the Halifax Citadel, Stanley Barracks in Toronto and Fort Henry (3) in Kingston, Ontario. Other sites included armouries and other government buildings. Camps were established as early as 1914 while the last camp did not close until 1920.
The Castle Mountain Internment Camp was established as a work camp and opened to accept internees on 14 Jul 1915. The first 60 internees arrived by train and were settled into tent quarters in a barbed wire compound. The camp was located at the foot of Castle Mountain near the unfinished end of the Banff to Lake Louise road (now the Bow Vally Parkway, Hwy 14.) The internees were assigned to work on that road using axes, picks and wheelbarrows.
The workday required eight hours of labor six days a week but the march to and from the work site sometimes stretched the work day into 13 hours. Conditions were harsh and supplies, including food, were scarce. There were frequent escape attempts. During the harsh winter months the detainees were removed to the Banff Cave & Basin Internment Camp and housed in frame barracks until the weather permitted a return to Castle Mountain.
The camp was closed on 15 Jul 1917 and the remaining internees were removed to the Kapuskasing Internment Camp in Ontario. The internees had completed some 10 kilometers of road and part of the original Banff Springs golf course.
Markers, memorials and a statue located near Castle Mountain, Alberta, Canada. Information about the camp can be found at the memorial site and at the Cave and Basin Internment Camp Interpretive Center in back of the Cave & Basin National Historic Site Visitor Center.
Visited: 4 Jul 2014