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Alternative Service Work - Contents

Firewood | Surveys | Firefighting | Dams | Tree Planting | Roads | Logging | Secret Weapon

Most of the conscientious objectors came from rural communities and were used to hard manual labour on the family farm.


Necessities like sugar, rubber, and fuel were hard to find during the war. When an especially cold winter hit Canada during the war, the COs chopped firewood to heat houses and businesses.


Conscientious objectors were willing and able to do all sorts of work. Survey crews helped tell them where to work.


Government officials were afraid that enemy countries would use firebombs to burn down Canadian forests. Although this never happened, the COs were there to fight many accidental fires.


The work the COs did in Canada's national parks helped create a tourism boom after the war. One of their projects in Riding Mountain National Park was to build a dam.


The COs planted millions of trees. Today, those seedlings have grown into beautiful forests.


The COs built and improved roads and highways across Canada. One of their most important projects was working on the Trans Canada highway in Ontario.


Forest fires had destroyed whole forests in British Columbia. The COs cut down the burned trees, or “snags,” so that a new forest could grow.


Perhaps the strangest thing the COs did was work on an experimental weapon. The story is so amazing it's hard to believe. How did these peace lovers get involved with this top secret project?

The government created a manual for the camp foremen to help run the camps in a uniform and orderly manner.  Included is a list of camp rules.

Summary of Major Project Work Performed by Alternative Service Men in Canadian National Parks,

Nature of Work

From June 1 st , 1941 to March 31 st , 1946



Highway Construction

1.7 miles

Secondary road construction

56.56 miles

Highway improvement

50 miles

Secondary road improvement

143.50 miles

Fencing (rods)

2147 rods

Fence posts

2471 posts

Pony trails improved

21.6 miles

Telephone lines built

22.95 miles

Telephone lines improved

213 miles

Fire trails constructed

12.25 miles

Fire trails improved

142 miles

Culverts built


Bridges built

11 (one steel bridge)

Telephone poles


Saw-timber produced (board feet)

2,786,000 board feet

Mine props produced (linear feet)

808,405 linear feet

Sawlogs produced (feet board measure)

277,915 feet board

Fuel-wood (cord)

7,022 cords

Gravel (hauled and spread)

3,115 cubic yards

J.A. Toews, Alternative Service in Canada during World War II .

Firewood | Surveys | Firefighting | Dams | Tree Planting | Roads | Logging | Secret Weapon

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