Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




MacEachern, Alan


This thesis shows how ASW work in Canadian wilderness during the Second World War offered conscientious objectors the opportunity to prove themselves good citizens to the nation, and good men to themselves. Conscientious objectors’ work in Alternative Service Camps is used to demonstrate how masculinity and patriotism were constructed within the camps. This thesis addresses the interactions that conscientious objectors had with wilderness, primarily through their work with forestry and fire fighting. It also addresses the construction of masculinity and national identity in the context of the Canadian wilderness. Furthermore, this work seeks to expand understanding of the conscientious objector experience in Canada by addressing pacifist groups outside of the Mennonite community.

Summary for Lay Audience

This thesis looks at conscientious objectors in Canada, specifically those who were sent to Alternative Service Work Camps during the Second World War. The men who were sent to these camps were viewed as bad citizens and cowardly men because they refused to take up arms or wear a uniform to fight in the war. They instead worked on building roads, in forestry, and in forest fire fighting. There is evidence that the men were able to prove that they were good Canadian citizens by working in these camps and, as a result, were viewed more favourably by the Canadian public by the end of the war. The men were also able to demonstrate their masculinity individually through work and leisure activities within the camps.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.