Ernest MacMillan (1893–1973) was one of the most important Canadian musicians of all time. He was a musical prodigy from Mimico, Ontario, who attended the University of Toronto. MacMillan was studying piano in Paris in 1914 when he took a trip to the Bayreuth music festival in Germany. Unfortunately, the war broke out while he was there, and he was arrested as an enemy alien. In March 1915, MacMillan was transferred to Ruhleben, a civilian detention camp near Berlin that housed around 4,000 inmates. Many of the inmates were talented musicians who had been working or studying in Germany at the start of the war. They formed an orchestra, and MacMillan served as one of its conductors while also playing music for camp concerts and plays. In May 1915, the University of Toronto awarded him a Bachelor of Arts degree in absentia in recognition of his plight. In June 1918, he was awarded a doctorate in music from Oxford University. MacMillan returned to Canada after his release in November 1918 and spent the rest of his life promoting classical music as a conductor, performer and professor at the University of Toronto. He was knighted for his services to music in 1935.
Sir Ernest MacMillan fonds, LAC