Michael Petrou is a Canadian journalist currently working on a dissertation
at Oxford on Canadian participation in the Spanish Civil War. Part of
his research was carried out in the Moscow archives and was used to create
a database of information on Canadian volunteers. We are grateful to Michael
for providing us with (as yet) unpublished material and analysis which
was the source for the section below on 'Who were the Canadian Volunteers'.
Who Were the Canadian Volunteers
While all of the national contingents in the International Brigades
had certain characteristics in common, they also tended to have their own
definate character. The Europeans tended to be older than the North Americans
and had a higher percentage of veterans with military experience - in the
case of the French and the Germans it was typically WWI experience. The
Americans were younger on the whole and had a relatively high proportion
of students, mostly from New York City.
The Canadians were different from both in a number of ways that reflected
recent Canadian history.
The volunteers were older than the average of other cntingents. Half
were 36 or older in contrast to the Americans of whom only 20% were 36 or
more. This reflects collapse in immigration in 1931 and the fact that few
of the Canadians were students or intellectuals. In fact 80% of the volunteers
were immigrants to Canada, most arriving after between 1924 and 1930. Participation
in various ethnic organizations. In that respect, Canada was unique among
the countries supplying volunteers. Many of these men had been introduced
to politics through left wing ehnic organizations - this was particularly
true for western Ukrainians and Northern Ontario Finns who sent the largest
number of ethnic volunteers but immigrants from many other ehnic groups had
Many of the volunteers had been living the hard life of depression transients,
travelling around the country and working at the kind of jobs that a young
and still relatively unindustrial country could offer - in lumber camps,
in hard rock mining, as farm workers, truck drivers, mechanics and labourers.
This section to be completed.
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