Historic Photos of Castle Mountain Internment Camp

Each November Canadians wear a poppy to show respect for those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The freedoms we enjoy in this country are directly attributed to the immeasurable sacrifices of countless men and women during times of conflict. It’s common knowledge that Canada was involved in the conflicts overseas, but it is relatively unknown that the Canadian Government passed regulations allowing it to monitor immigrants that emigrated from enemy countries. Due to suspicion and wartime hysteria some of these enemy aliens were even detained in internment and prisoner-of-war camps located across the country. Alberta was not exempt from this dark chapter in Canada’s history. In fact, it was home to several different camps spread throughout the southern half of the province. It is at these historical sites that you can learn, explore, discover, and pay your respects.

As part of a multi-million dollar renovation project to the Cave & Basin National Historic Site in Banff National Park, Parks Canada opened the Enemy Aliens: Prisoners of War exhibit. The exhibit explores the history of civilian and military internment in Canada between 1914, when the first camp opened, and 1920, when the last one finally closed. There is a particular focus on camps that were located within national parks.

As quoted from the Parks Canada website, “The internment camp in Banff was established at Castle Mountain in July 1915, then moved to Cave and Basin that November. Internees in Banff lived and worked in basic conditions, and there were many reports of rough treatment by guards. Some internees resisted, and escapes were common. The internment camp in Banff closed in July 1917. The remains of former sites of internment are few, but are a testament to this little-known episode in Canada’s history.”

Today there is nothing left at either site, except for a memorial along the Bow Valley Parkway and the aforementioned Enemy Aliens exhibit. Both will ensure these stories survive as a testament to Canada’s wartime history.

Internment camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915

I previously wrote about the Castle Mountain Internment Camp, as well as the camp located in Kananaskis Country, in my story Lest We Forget.

Internment camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
Major Duncan Stuart training guard at internment camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
Changing of the guard at internment camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
Roll-call at internment camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
Internees at the camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
Prisoners near camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles) at camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
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Guards at camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
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Internment camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
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Prisoner of war (internment) camp at the foot of Castle Mountain, Banff, Alberta, 1917
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Guards at camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
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Guards in celebration attire, at camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
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Prisoners of war at internment camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
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Guards watch internees at Castle Mountain Camp, Banff, Alberta, 1916
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Internment camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
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Officers at camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
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Internment camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
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Superintendent Simon John Clarke at camp, Castle Mountain, Alberta, 1915
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Duke of Connaught visits camp, near Mount Temple and Castle Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1915
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Castle Mountain Camp, Alberta, 1916

This November make sure you wear a poppy and attend a Remembrance Day service to honour those who have fought and died for this great country. Afterwards make the short trip out to the mountains and visit one of these former wartime sites. It’s a honourable way to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so the rest of us can continue to live in freedom.

Lest We Forget.

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About Tyler Dixon 117 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.