The Stories Were Not Told

Canada’s First World War Internment Camps


The Stories Were Not Told

From 1914 to 1920, thousands of men who had immigrated to Canada from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire were unjustly imprisoned as “enemy aliens,” some with their families. Many communities in Canada where internees originated do not know these stories of Ukrainians, Germans, Bulgarians, Croatians, Czechs, Hungarians, Italians, Jews, Alevi Kurds, Armenians, Ottoman Turks, Poles, Romanians, Russians, Serbians, Slovaks, and Slovenes, amongst others. While most internees were Ukrainians, almost all were civilians.

The Stories Were Not Told presents this largely unrecognized event through photography, cultural theory, and personal testimony, including stories told at last by internees and their descendants. Semchuk describes how lives and society have been shaped by acts of legislated discrimination and how to move toward greater reconciliation, remembrance, and healing. This is necessary reading for anyone seeking to understand the cross-cultural and intergenerational consequences of Canada’s first national internment operations.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Front cover 1
Title page 4
Copyright page 5
Dedication 6
Epigraph 8
Contents 10
Foreword | Jen Budney 12
Preface 22
Acknowledgements 26
Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund 28
Introduction 30
Storytelling, Dialogue, and Photography 31
The Land Remembers 32
Memory Work 33
Receiving Counsel from Manuel Piña 35
The Wider Landscapes of Containment and Control 38
Learning from Japanese Canadians 40
Identifying with Those Who Oppress 47
Looking Back to Where They Came From 52
The Fight for Recognition 56
1 Learning from the Past 62
The War Measures Act 62
Enemy Aliens 68
Families in Danger 77
2 Standing Where the Internees Stood 84
3 Stories from Internees and Descendants 156
Mary Bayrak 156
Jerry Bayrak 157
Philip Yasnowskyj 160
Nikola Sakaliuk 165
Ferdinand Zieroth 169
Wasyl Bobyk 170
Emile Litowski 173
Vasyl Doskoch 175
Stefa (Mielniczuk) Pawliw 183
Petro Witrowicz 184
Anonymous 187
Uncle’s Story 189
Yurko Forchuk 193
Yuri Babjek and his brothers, John, Bill, and Theodore 196
Mikhail Danyluk 200
Frederick, Hilda, and Fred Jr. Kohse 202
Metro Olynyk 206
Maksym Boyko 208
William Sharun 211
Harry Levitsky 213
4 Spirit Lake Photographs 218
5 Engaging Memory Work 240
A Loss of Identity 241
They Were Kids 242
Authorities Can’t Control Memory 246
Telling the Story as Resistance 249
Humiliation 251
These Are the Last Flowers I Will See in My Life 254
Healing 259
Resilience 262
The Doors Open 265
Notes 272
Bibliography 284
Index 288
About the Author 310
Other Titles from University of Alberta Press 313