Canada and the Spanish Civil War

Some 1600-1800 Canadians came to Spain; more than 700 of them were killed. Most were formed into the Mackenzie–Papineau Batallion.

Canadians who wanted to fight had to travel under false pretenses due to the Canadian Foreign Enlistment Act passed in April 1937 which made it illegal to fight for a foreign country.

Front cover of pamphlet “Hello Canada!: Canada’s Mackenzie Papineau Battalion.” 1937.

Many of those who fought were first or second generation Finnish or Estonian migrants victims of the Great Depression. Digitised by the good people at @CanadaSCW.

The Canadian contingent was almost entirely working class, who had been left stranded by the Great Depression.

The Mackenzie–Papineau Batallion

The football team of the Mackenzie–Papineau Batallion, spring or summer, 1938. Image from the excellent “Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War” by @michaelpetrou. They might be wearing the old RCD Espanyol shirt?

Books about Canadians in Spain

Michael Petrou’s book Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War

Janette Higgins edited autobiography by her father, Canadian International Brigader and labour activist Jim Higgins