Lethbridge Internment Camp
Lethbridge Internment Camp (1914-1916) - A World War I Canadian internment camp established in 1914 at the fairgrounds in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Abandoned in 1916. Also known as Fort McNicol, after the fair grounds manager J.W. McNicol and by the nickname "The Chicken Coop" or "The Hen House".
A World War I Canadian internment camp established 30 Sep 1914 in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada to house suspected enemy sympathizers. Initially commanded by Major E.B. Judson, Lethbridge 20th Battery, RCA, and garrisoned by 60 guards.
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 Lethbridge camp was located at the fairgrounds and operated out of the poultry building. The number of internees reached a high of about 300 in mid-1915. Because of the nearby U.S. border and because many of the internees were local there was great incentive to attempt an escape. A large number of escape attempts were successful. A 1916 escape by 6 internees who tunneled out of the camp and who were never caught probably triggered the camp closure on 11 Nov 1916. The inmates were sent to other more secure camps.
Two markers located at the Heritage Building on the Lethbridge Fairgrounds in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
Visited: 12 Aug 2014