Gateway to Promise: Canada’s First Japanese Community
by Ann-Lee and Gordon Switzer
Canada’s first Japanese community grew up in Victoria, the first Pacific port of call for Canada before Vancouver was even the name of a place. Here for the first time, the history of Victoria’s Japanese community is recounted, beginning in the mid-1880s. In the early days, Victoria, British Columbia was the “Gateway to Promise” for Japanese immigrants.
Images of Internment
by Dr. Henry Shimizu
In 1999, 12 friends met for dinner at my sister Grace Sakamoto’s home in Toronto. After dinner we had a frank discussion about our experiences in the New Denver Internment Camp, during 1942-1946.The consensus was a bitter/sweet episode in our lives , but with a major influence on our future career and live style. Following this meeting, I painted 27 oil paintings about my impressions of the life style of teenagers in the Internment Camp in New Denver , 1942-1946. The paintings were completed in 2002. An Opening exhibit of the paintings with explanatory panels was held at the Edmonton Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre on March 23, 2002 – exactly 60 years from the day we left Prince Rupert to begin our internment. In the summer of 2008, this book was created, using the paintings with stories and to complete the story, a prologue and an epilogue.
The Return of a Shadow
Eizo Osada had his shadow, always there inside his head, ready, unbidden, to announce itself. And it did; criticising, asking awkward questions, prompting. It had been there since he left Japan for Canada over forty years ago. He had left his wife and three young sons, one of them only two years old, to earn money to maintain the family back home.
Then Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. A worried Canadian government interned Japanese people. Eizo spent the next few years in camps. After his release his shadow questioned why he did not go back to his family, but there was always a reason why he could not. Then there was the last letter from his wife twenty-three years ago asking him to stay in Canada as there was no employment in war-torn Japan. So he stayed, living a lonely life, saving so he could send money back.
Now, approaching retirement, the time had come to return to the wife and family he had never known.
Little did he know what awaited him and how he in turn would become a shadow. There are many scenes from Vancouver Island.
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