The Great Depression
Spain at the Beginning of the Civil War
Formation of the International Brigades
Bethune and the Blood Transfusion Services
Formation of the Macpaps
Who were the Volunteers
The Aragon Front
Going Home


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 We are grateful to Michael for providing us with (as yet) unpublished material and analysis which was the source for the section below on 'Who were the Canadian Volunteers'.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 similar experiences.

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.

Next: The Aragon Front

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