Relief camps are established for the unemployed

April 13, 2017

Relief camp workers in Halifax

Relief camp workers in Halifax. Department of National Defence, Library and Archives Canada, PA-034465


In the midst of the Great Depression, the Canadian government opened federal relief camps in rural areas of Canada. The camps were designed to provide employment, shelter and medical care for homeless and single unemployed men, and to prevent them from congregating or organizing in urban centres. Although recruitment for the camps was voluntary, men who resisted were often arrested for vagrancy. The Department of National Defence managed the camps along the lines of army training camps. This made for difficult conditions, and led to anger and militancy among some of the 170,248 men who participated in the camps.

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