Tribute to Spirit Lake Internment Captured in Musical Compositions

Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Montreal/Spirit Lake.

Two original musical arrangements have captured the story of Spirit Lake internment, the second largest of the twenty-four internment sites in Canada, thereby furthering public awareness of the early-twentieth century Internment Operations in Canada through a unique medium.

The first musical piece is a composition titled “Spirit Lake” performed by members of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Symphony Orchestra in Quebec, conducted by Jacques Marchand. The piece is played with historical archive photos of Spirit Lake internment site projected in the background. The 40 musicians in the orchestra come from the surrounding areas of La Sarre, Amos, Val d’Or, Rouyn-Noranda.

This composition will be performed for a second time this coming June by the Haricanna Harmony Orchestra of Polyvalente de la Forêt secondary school in Amos. This talented student orchestra also numbers forty musicians from the fourth and fifth secondary high-school levels. The orchestra frequently performs in Quebec provincial high school competitions in Montreal and Sherbrooke.

The second recent composition is an original song written, titled “L’évadé de Spirit Lake” (The Escapee of Spirit Lake), which will be released on June 7. The song, composed by Daniel Rose, pays tribute to young Ukrainian internee Ivan Hryhoryshchuk who tried to escape his unjust internment in Spirit Lake, but was tragically killed on June 7, 1915, as he was attempting to run south, down the railway tracks, hoping to reach freedom.

The Quebec song, written in French, was recorded in the Val d’Or studio. Daniel Rose is a known musician in the area, writing songs for various Quebec artists. His mother was one of the original founders of Corporation Camp Spirit Lake in early 1998, a non-profit entity. From her initiative, award-winning Camp Spirit Lake Interpretative Centre/museum, chaired by James Slobodian of today was established in year 2011.

Her son Daniel, having been exposed to and was intrigued by the internment story at an early age, felt compelled to write a song years later when he became a music composer. Daniel also sang the song “The Escapee of Spirit Lake” which will be release on CD in a few months. This is one of many ongoing projects underway by Spirit Lake Centre to mark the 100th anniversary of Sprit Lake internment site, which opened in 1915 and was closed in 1917, with internees from Spirit Lake being transferred to other existing internment sites in Canada.

Spirit Lake Interpretative Centre, the first internment museum opened for the public in Canada, conveys the story of Canada’s First National Interment Operations, is open throughout the year, with a well developed educational out-reach program with schools in the area and throughout Quebec.

They received a major grant, over a period of five years, from the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund under the Shevchenko Foundation. Over 25,000 have visited this unique Centre, now in its sixth year of successful operation, from various parts of Canada and Europe.

Spirit Lake Centre is organizing a series of events throughout the year to mark the 100th anniversary of Spirit Lake and the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement to Canada. Support for their projects is always welcome.

To arrange for group tours please call 1-819-727 2267or for further information refer to or to view documentaries on Spirit Lake see: