Newsletters of Canadians in Alternative Service, 1942-1945


The newsletters listed below were created by conscientious objectors to military service who served in the Canadian government's Alternative Service and Selective Service programs during the Second World War. Approximately 10,000 Canadian conscientious objectors served in these programs.

The Northern Beacon was first published in January 1942 at the Montreal River Alternative Service Work Camp (Montreal River Harbour, Ontario). The paper was started as a community building exercise within and between Alternative Service camps and to inform friends, family and the outside world of the work of conscientious objectors. Circulation eventually reached 1,055.

Articles on religious life, sports, camp doings, personal profiles, letters from readers, poetry, work project updates and reports from American COs (who served in a similar program, Civilian Public Service) captured many interesting aspects of the Alternative Service experience.

With the transfer of most of the men from Montreal River to the British Columbia Forestry Service camps in June 1942, publication was temporarily discontinued. However, former editor Wes Brown and others revived the paper (renamed The Beacon) from their new camps on Vancouver Island. John L. Fretz later took over the editorship. Both Brown and Fretz were from Ontario.

From July 1944 onwards, the paper was published out of Kitchener, Ontario. This reflects the fact that the Forestry Service camps were being closed and the majority of COs assigned to Selective Service work in agriculture and industry beginning in 1943. The paper ceased in 1945.

A separate newsletter with similar themes, The Canadian C.O., was published in Montreal, Quebec from 1942-1943. The Milton Good Library does not hold a complete set of issues of The Canadian C.O. However, complete sets of The Northern Beacon and The Beacon are available below.

Originals of all of these scans are located in the Milton Good Library. They were digitised as part of the Conchies Speak exhibit project.

These digital scans have been provided by the Milton Good Library at Conrad Grebel University College for the purpose of research and private study. Any use for other purposes may require the authorization of the copyright owner of the work.

The Northern Beacon, 1942

January 3, 1942 April 18, 1942
February 21, 1942 May 9, 1942
March 7, 1942 May 30, 1942
March 21, 1942 June 20, 1942
April 4, 1942 July 4, 1942
Author-Title Index  

The Beacon, 1942-1945

October, 1942 August, 1943
December, 1942 September, 1943
January, 1943 November, 1943
February, 1943 December, 1943
March, 1943 January, 1944
April, 1943 March, 1944
May, 1943 July, 1944
June, 1943 March, 1945
July, 1943 September, 1945

The Canadian C.O., 1942-1943

August, 1942

October, 1942

August, 1943