Essondale patient file for Teruko Sunada


The LOI Research Team has flagged this record for containing sensitive information. This record contains the following sensitivities:

  • Details or graphic images of serious illness (mental or physical) or mortality of identifiable individual(s).
  • Could cause undue or disproportionate dishonour / embarrassment to self or family.

Essondale patient file for Teruko Sunada


Title Proper 93-5683 BOX 0310 FILE 20396
Date(s) 1942
General material designation
This file contains a textual record.
Scope and content
Teruko Sunada was admitted to Essondale from Lillooet on 16 August 1942. She died there on 3 September, at the age of 24, of ‘exhaustion from acute mania’. She was born in Japan. Her maiden name was Murakami. Ward notes indicate that she had been nursing a ten-month-old baby at the time of her admission and “talked of returning to Japan, and talked of killing herself if not – because of this was placed on suicidal list.” The Social Service Exchange note lists her address as ‘East Lillooet Jap Camp.’ Her visit record indicates that her husband Kinjiro escorted her to the hospital, and she was visited by a friend identified as ‘Kumano’ on 2 September. Her Form A medical certificate indicates that she arrived in Canada in 1939 and had been “sick before in Haney B.C.” The form lists ‘supposed cause’ of present attack as “wants to go home.” File includes correspondence between medical superintendent E.H. Ryan and the R.C.M.P. and Col. Lennox Arthur of the British Columbia Security Commission in which he described her as an enemy alien. File also contains several letters between Ryan and Kinjiro Sunada. Sunada asked for permission to write to his wife in Japanese, and shared that “the main cause of her illness was due to her fear and needless worry about the war. I think she was getting worse little by little from a few months back. Since coming here she rapidly changed for the worse.” He also suspected she was pregnant. File includes correspondence between bursar Gowan S. Macgowan and Kinjiro Sunada regarding payment for Teruko’s account. Sunada wrote that he paid forty dollars on 15 October 1942 through an intermediary; on 5 February 1943 Macgowan wrote that nineteen dollars was owed. File contains no reference to B.C.S.C. responsibility for her account or funeral arrangements.
Name of creator
British Columbia. Mental Health Services created this archive which were transferred to the BC Archives from 1987 to 2000.
Immediate source of acquisition
The digital copies of the records were acquired by the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective between 2014 and 2018.
This record was digitized selectively.



Essondale patient file for Teruko Sunada
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Readers of these historical materials will encounter derogatory references to Japanese Canadians and euphemisms used to obscure the intent and impacts of the internment and dispossession. While these are important realities of the history, the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective urges users to carefully consider their own terminological choices in writing and speaking about this topic today as we confront past injustice. See our statement on terminology, and related sources here.