National Archives of Canada (C-047402).

Japanese Canadians Being Relocated to Camps in the Interior of British Columbia, n.d.

Responding to the fears and racial biases of British Columbians and to a more general concern over national security, the Canadian government relocated over 12,000 Japanese Canadians. They were sent from the B.C. coast to camps in the interior of B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Along with many other wartime problems, the Canadian government had to deal with the issue of enemy aliens. Deeply suspicious of German, Italian and Japanese peoples whose homelands were at war with Canada, the government imposed restrictions and interned or relocated many. The government also had to deal with the issue of conscription. Through most of the war sufficient volunteers joined the military to compensate for casualties. However, as casualties increased, the need for conscription grew. This posed a difficult political problem for the government as the country was strongly divided on the issue.

Enemy Aliens

Citing concerns over national security and responding to public fears and biases, the Canadian government imposed restrictions on “enemy aliens”, including internment and relocation. The large Japanese population on the west coast was particularly singled out.


Until 1944, enlistment in the Canadian military was completely voluntary. In spite of pressure from military officials, the government was reluctant to impose conscription to ensure sufficient enrolments to replace casualties.


During the final stages of the war, casualties were quite high and, in spite of political crisis it provoked, conscription became a necessity.


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