Harry Hamade, interviewed by Erin Yaremko, 19 November 2015

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

  • Egregious stereotyping (positive or negative) of a culture, group or person (beyond outdated language), especially vulnerable individual(s)/group(s).
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Harry Hamade, interviewed by Erin Yaremko, 19 November 2015

Abstract
Harry Hamade was raised in Ucluelet before being interned in Lemon Creek, and then later relocated to Winnipeg. He speaks about how his father initially immigrated to Steveston before moving to the fishing grounds in Ucuelet; he talks about his mother coming over to Canada as a picture bride. He narrates how his father had just bought a new house before being uprooted, and the conditions of sailing the Juan de Fuca Strait in the fishing fleet. He discusses the living quarters at Hastings Park, and the conditions in the Slocan Valley area when incarcerated in Lemon Creek. Harry discusses going to a french school in Winnipeg and initially struggling with his studies, but his later academic success due to close friends. He speaks about the hardship of working different jobs in Winnipeg before finding stable employment with MTS.
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Erin Yaremko (EY)
Today is November 19th, 2015 and I am here today with Harry Hamade. We are here recording an interview for Landscapes of Injustice. We are going to be looking at documents, and discussing them. So what would you like to look at?
Harry Hamade (HH)
Laughs. That’s my grandfather. That’s my grandmother’s passport when she came to Canada.
EY
And when did your grandmother come to Canada?
HH
Well it tells you right there in the document. Laughs.
EY
1910?
HH
Yeah. And that’s my grandfather.
EY
Do you remember when your father was born? What year he was born?
HH
Well my dad was born 19—1899.
EY
Okay. So your father was born in Japan?
HH
@ Yeah. Came here and then they lived in Steveston. And he said he went to the third grade he said. Laughs. And then. . .
EY
How many siblings did your father have?
HH
Well there was myself, and two sisters. And then the third sister was born in Winnipeg. This is me when I was in Japan, my mother—that’s my mother there, took me to Japan. That’s me there. To visit the family, like Harry shows a photo of his family in Japan.
EY
When did your mother come to Canada, or was she born here?
HH
No, don’t forget she’s a mail order.
EY
Oh yes.
HH
Laughs. Picture bride.
EY
Ah yes.
HH
So she came in 1927—8, 1927, I think, yeah. They were married proxy because it tells you in this other book. The picture bride one. That’s my. . . in Ucluelet, BC. That’s—that’s—I think first or second grade there. That’s me there. One room school house. Like one room was grade one, one row grade two. Laughs.
EY
So when did you move to Ucluelet?
HH
I think it was 1928, I think. Flips pages. And my grandmother and grandfather lived with my dad and my mother, the same house. And what happened there was that that little bay area there was about six homes, and primarily it was all my relatives, the uncles. So they in fact called it Hamade bay. Laughs.
EY
Do you remember the property where you lived? So different rooms, or the street?
HH
Well there was no actual street per say, because there was just a bunch of homes in Ucluelet. Because there was no roads, then. Only way to get to Ucluelet was by boat. There was no hydro. . . like electricity or anything like that. so. Very primitive. Laughs.
EY
Do you remember your house? Was it quite small, was it quite large?
HH
You know that when I was living there, as a child, I thought it was big. But in 19—after the war—963 when I went back. . . I found the ceilings to be low, and the house was really dingy and dark. And what it had was a. . . it’s partitioned into a bedroom on one side and another bedroom and a living room in the middle, and then in the back was a kitchen. And with Japanese on the side, there was a Japanese bath. Ofuro. Have you heard of Japanese bath? The one you just soak it up in? Laughs. That’s my mother’s hundredth birthday Flips pages..
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EY
So what schools did you attend?
HH
Well that’s the picture I showed you here? That’s the Ucluelet, there was only one school there.
EY
So that covered all grades?
HH
No, up to grade six I think. I don’t know what would happen the year after because I didn’t know anything more than that. Majority of people would go to—because they would have relatives in Steveston or Vancouver. And I think they were probably have gone out to the city to further their education. I think the same as here, in the country here, in Manitoba. Because I think in the country I think the grades went so far, and then I think you came to the city or larger community.
EY
So earlier you had mentioned your father was in fishing?
HH
Yeah.
EY
As his career?
HH
He was a fisherman. Initially what happened was my dad and my grandfather and the rest of the Japanese community that came to Steveston, they were fishing on the mouth of the Fraser River. Sockeye salmon, and knitting them and so forth. But uh, later on when they found the fishing out in Ucluelet, somebody went out and found the location in Ucluelet, nice sheltered harbor there. So quite a number of people moved up there. It’s actually deep sea fishing. I’m trying to find a picture of my. . .. Oh here it is, here. Here’s my dad’s boat. Here. King Fisher.
EY
And what kind of a boat was it?
HH
It’s just a boat. Small, one cylinder engine, or something. Put-put. Laughs. And what it is is as a trolling boat, see these posts up here? Fans out like this and you put your line out and you’d have line stretching up from the posts and plus a couple in the back, and everything was pulled in manually. You had to pull it in. And initially my dad said that he couldn’t get a fishing license, so he had to get a native, because there was a reservation in this area. So he was able to get one of the reservation natives to get licensed and he’d go on the boat with him till he got his license. Laughs. So that’s the boat that was confiscated when the war started. And one of the things—what happened was when the war started and they came to our house, and we had just gotten our telephone which is naturally a party line in those days. Long, short, crank, switch board at the local grocery store. And the police came—they came and took the phone out. And they took my dad’s shot gun, and the .22 that he had. And then shortly thereafter. . . they said that we had—he had to take his boat in. Everybody that owned a boat. My mother made a lunch for them. Laughs. He thought they were just going to Port Alberni which is not too far away, but they ended up having to go through the Juan de Fuca Strait to go to Steveston. So it was quite a journey for them. And during that trip there was one casualty. One because there was quite a few number of boats following this, I don’t what kind of gun boat, anyways Canadian Navy boat? And one strayed into the American side.
EY
Oh wow.
HH
And what happened to him was the Americans got a hold of him and he got beaten up, got his throat cut, and he was the one casualty.
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EY
Are there any other fishing stories you remember from your father?
HH
Good ones or bad ones? Laughs.
EY
Both. Laughs.
HH
What it is with fishing is that they would leave you know, two, three o’clock in the morning, go out whatever to their fishing grounds, and then you know, and then they would come in late in the evenings with their catch. Sometimes he would, you know, go out to sea for maybe a day or two, but before they go out they would have to stop at the fisheries scowl to pick up some ice. So when they catch the fish they can put it into the bin. And you know where the— Tofino? You heard of Tofino and the whale watching and them?
EY
Mhmm.
HH
Well it’s all in that coastal area there that they did the fishing. Pauses. And one of the things when they’re fishing is that the reason he carried a .22 was if he got a big one and he’s towing it in, there’ll be like a seal or shark or something that would come and take a chunk of his catch. Then he can’t sell it. So he would try and shoot the. . . Laughs. But, he made a living but naturally the season was very short. But it was a living anyways.
EY
While your father was out fishing, did your mother work at home?
HH
Yeah. Like my grandmother didn’t do anything at all really. My mother did all the cooking. And naturally with no refrigeration, she would have to salt the fish and things like that. We had little garden in the back, where we grew vegetables. And we had a well behind the house too, so.
EY
How large—do you remember the size of the property? Was it quite big?
HH
No just, number of—number of—just hang on here. Shows image of Ucluelet. You can see these homes just across the bay here? It’s just like that. One after the other, just along the coast. It’s not what you’d a property like we call here. It’s just a—we were actually on stilts, house was on stilts. So that when the tide come in, and the real high tide comes in occasionally, it’ll come right up to the house and in fact you can fish off the porch. Both laugh. And one thing, you know like in Ucluelet, it was very good because if you wanted clams you just—low tide you go and dig up clams and pick up crabs, you know, so the cost of living is not very high. You could just go to the dock and pick—catch perch or in fact we had a cage there to store the perch for the perch and then my mother said “go get the perch” and I just net it and bring it in and have it for supper. Laughs. So, that’s our situ—oh yeah what happened to just prior to the war starting, when my second sister was born, the house became kind of small. So my dad had purchased a home across the bay. And he was just starting to do some renovations so we could move up there, and then the war started so we never got to move into that new home. It was up over on the hill overlooking the bay, it’s a really nice place there.
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EY
Do you remember seeing it in person? Do you remember the size of it?
HH
It was what you call like here, you would say it’s one of those one and a half story homes, like the war time homes we have? Similar to that, and only thing that was more. . . which we liked, because it was like, it was not a newly built home but it—somebody had lived there before—is that it had a hand pump, so we didn’t have to go take a pail Laughs. and and it had an indoor plumbing.
EY
Wow.
HH
Instead of going to the, Laughs. naturally no electricity though.
EY
Of course.
HH
Laughs. Oh and then behind our house, they had built school house. And the school was just behind our house. And when the war started, one thing we had to do was take all of the books out of the school, take to the beach and burn it. I remember the bonfire we had there. And prior to that we had finally got a generator installed at the Japanese language school, so there we could watch some movies. Before it was always a movie but it was hand cranked and even with the movies there still was somebody reading a script. Laughs. That was our movies in those days. And naturally the other people that lived across the bay—well this school was a Japanese language school, remember? Laughs. My other school was further down, more downtown so to speak, you know. Okay, you want to know what happens when the war came?
EY
Actually before we go to that, I have one more question surrounding property. Do you remember what items were in your house growing up? Did you have chairs, pots, pans, dishes?
HH
Oh what happened was we had all the pots and pans and tables and beds, okay? And naturally the kitchen stools and so forth, and actually a couch. But some of the beds we were able to bring. But that part, you wanna hear that part? Okay. When we were told to move in March 1942, they gave us a notice of 24 hours or so that we should take what we can carry, and go to the dock. And get on this boat. But prior to that we were supposed to mark everything, put it in the middle of the living room. Which is our beds, our—you know our trunks, not this—I don’t think we ever brought tables or anything, the main thing was we brought some chairs and so forth and leave it in the middle of the living room. And they would send it to us later. And that’s where we ended up in Hastings Park. Laughs.
EY
Do you remember who lived next to you? I know you said you had family that lived near you on the bay.
HH
That was my uncle who lived next door, and it was all my uncles all the way down. Laughs. Most of it.
EY
So were they moved at the exact same time?
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HH
Everybody—when the relocation took place, every Japanese family had to get to the dock and get on the boat and we ended up in Hastings Park. And put into the liberty stable. That is—I wasn’t there, but what it was was the women and children under twelve were with the mother in the liberty stable; the men and boys over 13 were all in the—remember I showed you the hockey arena ice surface? Was where the men stayed, yeah. And then there was a mess hall, which you had to walk to like a building. And you had your specific times. If your breakfast was at seven, so many groups of people get there at seven. The next group would come there seven thirty, so forth. The facilities are very—not what you call a great. Laughs. Well the bathroom facilities were like a. . .I don’t know how it is, but a big trough? And then they had a board with holes on it. So there was no privacy whatsoever. And every so often a gush of water come down and— Laughs. Flows the increments Laughs. away. Oh and the bunkhouse—bunks—we slept in was the liberty stable—you know where the horses are kept? And the only thing that separated us from my neighbor was a blanket hanging down the side of the bunk bed. I slept on the upper so I could see everybody down. Laughs. So we were there for six months.
EY
Do you remember your parent’s reaction to this, and to being there?
HH
Well, that’s one of those things—they just accepted it and say, “Well do what we can” and “it’s gonna be tough but you can’t complain.” Because when we’re in Hastings Park, we were in an enclosed areas. There were chain link fence around, so we couldn’t get out anyways. And I still remember that there was a first World War veteran was allowed to sit outside the fence, in a chair. There as a grocery store just across the street on the corner, so if we can somehow scrounge up a nickel or a dime, or even a penny, we can go up to this wire fence and there’s the gentleman there and we say give him a nickel and he’ll cross the street, get us a chocolate bar. Laughs. And then there was a golf course running beside the Hastings Park there, because the Hastings Park is the race track. And there was a Pacific Exhibition going on next to it with the roller coasters and them, but I remember the golf course in particular because we would go up to the chain link fence and watch these people. I never knew what golf was till then, and we see the golf as you know they may hit over the fence occasionally? So when the ball came over we would try and retrieve that ball and try and get a nickel, if they would give us—if we gave the ball back, if they wouldn’t give us a nickel we would keep the ball. Laughs. There was nothing much we could do there, they were trying—because that was the end of the school year. So actually, I lost a year of school. They were trying to do some schooling in some rooms that they found available in the hockey arena, but it was very short term anyways and we never really graduated from our—I was in third grade, then.
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EY
After being in Hastings Park, where did you move next?
HH
Oh from Hastings Park what happened was we moved to Slocan. Interior British Columbia. Because they were building small shacks. And initially when we got to Slocan, my aunt was already there. So, they were actually living in a filament home? You know, like a two-story building there? But they took us to small communities like this that was build. There’s Slocan, there’s Bay Farm, Popoff, and Lemon Creek—this is Lemon Creek. Shows a map of Lemon Creek. See those little homes? So they were building these. So when we go there, Lemon Creek, we were supposed to go to Lemon Creek. So Lemon Creek was not so finished. So they put us in a bunk house, in Popoff. We were there for about a month. There was six of us in one room. Laughs. Others were not fortunate to be in a house, they were in a tent. So once this— these buildings were built, we were sent out to Lemon Creek. This is our—my—our home here. See the circle? That’s our school. This is the United Church here. And this is the bathhouse. The men’s bathhouse was on this side and the women’s was on this side. So this was a couple hours walk from Slocan, Slocan was way in the valley over here. It was nice to walk. Laughs. And what Lemon Creek looked like, I went to Lemon Creek reunion back in. . . here, here’s Lemon Creek here. Flips pages; shows drawn map of Lemon Creek. It tells you what the population was at that time. So I can imagine there’s about close to two thousand people. So, let’s see. It’s not—it’s a farmer’s field now. Just a pasture. See here’s the school here, here’s the United Church and my house was right here.
EY
And did they call these roads? Points to lines on map.
HH
Yeah we had lanes, like we were 17 Holly.
EY
Okay. So each home was numbered?
HH
Yeah.
EY
And put on it’s own street?
HH
Yeah, we had—like this was Holly, and that was Gilead and so forth. Yeah, Elm. And initially when we got there, naturally there’s no electricity. And what we had to do was—I was lucky to get a little job delivering candles. Laughs. So they gave me a box of candles and I would take care of the street. Deliver two candles to each home. Until everybody was able to get a coal lamp. Initially we had ten over here, in this area because stoves are not quite ready yet so we had to go to a mess hall over here to eat. Long pause.
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HH
So you can imagine like this is two thousand people. Look how many homes you need for two thousand people. Laughs. So that was the reunion I went to, back in what—year was it?—that was back in Toronto. So there’s—that’s it there shows photo of home. Oh and then we were there late fall, around September. And these houses were all built with very raw lumber. So as it dried out, the boards shrunk and they left space, laughs and they never had any insulation in them. So they said, “Well the snow was starting to come in,” so they gave us tarp paper to nail on the outside. So we had to nail up tar paper on the outside to keep the snow from coming in. And what we have here is, right on the corner here? Was a pump. That was our water supply. Laughs. So in the summer it was okay, because it was never frozen. But once winter came, first one to use it had to get some water, had to take a kettle of hot water to thaw out the pipe. Laughs. And we had a wooden bin there, you know like that, filled with water. That was our—for the purpose for fire brigade, in case the fire started. Somebody had a house fire? Then you have have a bucket brigade and somebody would have to pump. Laughs. And these were three room houses. Very small. What was it? 14 by 28 or something like—yeah.
EY
Do you remember your neighbors in the camp?
HH
Yeah they were—well it’s right in the map that tells me the names of—but if they had kids, they were my—we were friends. In a way in those days we still spoke a lot of Japanese. Naturally in the school—school the teachers were like high school graduates, if that. They tried their best anyway, so.
EY
And how old were you when you entered the camp?
HH
Nine. Cause I—cause I had to repeat my third grade, grade three, because the year I was supposed to graduate in ’42. I had lost that year. So when we came to camp, I started grade three again.
EY
Are there any individuals from the camps that you remember who were not of Japanese descent?
HH
Well the only person that were not of Japanese descent in the camp, in our camp anyways, was the RCMP. They had the depot right at the entrance. Where is it? Yeah over here somewhere Points at Lemon Creek map. was here. It was the RCMP depot. My dad was able to get a job there to clean office once a week or something like that. He was paid a few dollars for it, yeah. That’s everything I like, living in Lemon Creek, everything was, like everywhere else in Canada, everything was rationed. I think we all survived on Clic and Laughs.. Then that’s bologna.
EY
Are there any stories that you have from the camp? Surrounding friends or incidents, or?
HH
Oh we had to make everything on our own. Like, we had a hill behind us. So if we go to go skiing, we didn’t have any skis. Laughs. So we get—pick up a lumber, and you know about three inch or two inch wide, lumber one inch, and we would build a bonfire. Get a bucket, fill it up with water, and soak the—boil the heck out of the lumber—to get the bend, and then we’d squeeze it in somewhere and bend it to get the toe and build our own little skis and put little straps on. Laughs. But you know we had to make our own games, you know. There was a game I—I’m trying to remember the name of what we called it but we used to use broomsticks? And that was game we played with it. And then for baseball we used tennis balls. And that’s it for kids, playing, cowboys and Indians. We build our own, carve up our little guns and bang bang you know? Laughs. And we played hide and seek type of thing, too.
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HH
And then later on my dad bought me—everything we buy is naturally out of Sears or Eaton’s catalog. So finally a lot of people were able to purchase skates, and that’s in the winter time, you know. So my dad bought me a pair of skates from the catalog. But those skates were terrible. Laughs. What it was in the war time, is that the soles of the skates were not leather or anything like that, it was kind of a paper like. So the rivets would come out. So what we did was we’d get a nail, cut it short and use it as a rivet and, you know, hammer it and put the insole in there. And then to sharpen the skates we’d just get a file and try and Laughs.. But we were more innovative in those days, you know everything we played we had to make or do something with it. Cause there was no—we never had radio, we never had nothing, so. Couldn’t imagine what it could be like with nowadays. Laughs.
EY
Were there any objects that you were forced to leave at home, that you remember distinctly?
HH
Well some of the displays that, you know you left—in fact there’s people that said they, some things they buried somewhere but to us I can’t recall. I know we had a nice picture of my grandmother and grandfather, but that we took to the new house but I guess it just left there and probably ended up in the garbage somewhere. But there’s like the children’s dolls, like during children’s week, you put—I don’t know if you’ve seen it, maybe at the Cultural Centre you may have seen—where they line up these dolls. But those we had to leave behind. We never really had much anyways because we weren’t that, we just barely making a living, anyways, so. Nothing that we would consider that. . . you know. Cause my dad was just getting to the point where like buying a house and things like that. Yeah.
EY
So you mentioned that people would bury items. Do you remember your neighbors burying items?
HH
No, I don’t think we—we—in that area. I think more people. like in Vancouver and them, may have done things like that, because a lot of them were their own business, and they owned stores and different things like that, so. I think that they had more wealth than we would have in our fishing village. We’re like farmers, type of thing, because we’re just fishermen.
EY
Has the loss of that property, and of any items you may have owned, has that affected your life?
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HH
No, not really. I had been back there to look. All the houses are gone now. I’m going to take a drink of water. I got my tea here. Harry walks into his living room to grab his cup of tea. Oh, that’s better. Laughs. Okay. What else did you want to know?
EY
Turning more now to, before. . .you left. And before you were forced to leave your home, I need to say, do you remember feeling any racism in your community? Or do you remember your parents speaking of any discomfort in this area?
HH
Well in Ucluelet there was no problem because majority of people were Japanese. No there was no problem whatsoever and naturally during the internment we were all Japanese, so. It’s only after the war when I came here that was always not—weary of what I should be doing.
EY
Can we now go onto discuss once your family left the internment camp?
HH
Yeah, see what happened, what the internment camp was they gave us a choice to be repatriated back to Japan. Or move to East of the Rockies. We couldn’t stay there. Because they still had that two hundred mile boundary—we couldn’t go to the coast. So when my aunt moved to Winnipeg here, my dad sent my sisters here. So they said, “We’ll go to Winnipeg, so.” And I’ve been in Winnipeg. Coughs and excuses himself. So when we came to Winnipeg, it was quite a train ride. Because we came from Lemon Creek, and we were put into day coaches? So you can imagine spending a couple of days on an old, old smoky old train coming to Winnipeg. On a day coach. You know you’ve seen it—have you been on the prairie thing here? With the benches that they have—it’s like that. So you try to sleep across and all that. Laughs. So we came to Winnipeg on the CPR station, that’s on Higgins. Next thing we were herded onto buses, and then once you got onto the bus, we’re heading out to the prairies. Laughs. So we didn’t know where we were going. So we ended up just East of Transcona, from what I understand that was an old Cordite plant out there, and there was a bunk house there. So they put us in the bunk house there. Again we’re there, six of us in the one room. Laughs. And they had the mess hall there. And then there was kind of a. . .. shuttle, not really a bus but a, you know what war time ambulance looked like? Well they had benches in there. So that was our transportation in from our hostel to Transcona and then we take a bus into Winnipeg. And then it was kind of in the morning and then in the evenings it’d go back, but then if you miss it you’d have to walk back. Laughs.
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HH
But you know in those days that’s quite a ways out to get to Transcona in the old days. Cause if you—if you missed the bus, you know like you walked, had to take the Talbot to the end of the Talbot, then you had to walk to Transcona and you get to Transcona and you find you missed it so you had to walk again. Laughs. And then come around September, they were told that there was no heating in the bunk houses there, so we had to find accommodation here in Winnipeg. So my dad had to come to Winnipeg and find a home that he could afford, because he never had a job. So we ended up at I think 134 Higgins Avenue. And what it was was an upstairs of this house, they were able to let us have two rooms up on the second floor. Oh six of us again. Laughs. No kitchen facilities, so we had to get the hot plate, bring a hot plate to do some cooking and those—even on Higgins Avenue we still, the older type homes, where the outlet was the dangling light and then you put in the thing so you could plug in. So we were there, and then that was in September so I had to go to a school. That’s when I started to—and my dad couldn’t speak English very well. So everything, I had to do on my own. So I still remember the incidents when I first time, I went to Norquay School, cause the school had already started in the middle of late September, and you know how you move around from room to room? So you go to this one room, get there, sit down, and this lady infront. . . Teacher was Duval. Ms. Duval. Laughs. She says a few words, and I didn’t know what she was saying. And then it comes out, she points to one person and says “Oui.” And this person stands up and replies back. And then she’ll be talking away and then all of a sudden she says “Oui” and this girl stands up. So after the class is over I asked the guys “What was that?” And they said, “That was French”. Both laugh. That’s when I got—found out I was in the French class. Both laugh.
EY
Do you remember the owner of the Higgins home that you lived in?
HH
Oh. Geez I had the name. It was 134 Higgins anyways. It was a two story and we had to walk—go in through the back way through the kitchen and up the stairs. Laughs. It was not very convenient, you try not to go out too much or, you know. But later on my father’s friend had lived down the road there on Curtis Street. By the Annabella Subway there. You know where that is? I guess you—where the old store was? That was Curtis Street there. His friend lived there and then he was going to, able to at that time finally was able to move back to BC. So he says, “Well if you want when we move out, we can move in there.” So we moved into 50 Curtis Street. And that wasn’t much of a house either. Laughs. It had—one thing it had two bedrooms, and a living room and a kitchen. And a shared toilet. What it was—that toilet was like a broom, like a closet. It had a door on both sides? The women lived on one side, we lived on the other side. And when you went to the toilet, you latch up, close up her door and you go in and do your thing Laughs. and naturally you have to make sure you open her side when you come back out. Laughs. There was no bath tub or anything like that there. We had no refrigerator. There was a stove, kitchen stove and the stove in the living room. There was no central heating, so. Laughs. No basement. Just had a little root cellar, that’s all they had. And the bedrooms were very cold. In he winter time the windows would frost that much.
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EY
Do you remember who the owner of 50 Curtis was?
HH
Dublin.
EY
Dublin? Was it a Miss Dublin?
HH
Mrs. Dublin, yeah. And her son. Yeah it’s one of those houses that are kind of a. . . like I said the toilet was in the middle. Laughs. Any then when we took a bath, what our bath was. . . Pretty well toweled yourself, that’s about it. Eventually we—wash basin? We were small so it was okay. We’d get some hot water and we could sit in one of those wash basins. That was our bath. Laughs. We didn’t have any refrigerator or anything, but eventually later, we bought ourself—once my dad started working—we bought ourselves an ice box. And in those days, arctic ice used to have ice men come down the streets. Do you remember that? Or have you heard of it? Laughs. So once a week they’d come down and you could buy an block of ice to put in your ice box. So that helps, was you know—we stayed there till 1956.
EY
What did your father do for work when he moved to Winnipeg?
HH
Being a fisherman. He didn’t have any trade per say. So he worked at a Direct Furniture there for a while, and then he worked at Dykes Knife or something up in East Kildonan. It was a place I remember him talking about, going to the end of East Kildonan on the street car line. And then having to walk quite a ways to get to knife factory and the knife factory had an outhouse. So he used to say, “When you go to the outhouse you have to take an ax” Laughs. because certain things were spilling up. Laughs. Not a pleasant thing to talk about. Laughs. So he worked there for a while. Eventually word that some of the other Japanese people working at Gypsum Lime Alabastine, which on Sargent Avenue? So he got finally got a job there. That’s where about three or four maybe half a dozen Japanese people worked, along with a number of Ukrainian ladies worked there too. They were really tough ladies. I worked there one summer, and because I was going to school I wanted a summer job and I got a summer job there. Yeah.
EY
Do you remember any of those ladies names?
HH
No I don’t, no. No. Because I just worked there one summer, that’s all, yeah. And naturally the company changed to Domitor later, and that’s where my dad retired. Naturally he was given just a minimum wage, anyways. Yeah. And when we lived in Curtis Street, you know, I remember the cord of wood was 15 dollars and a ton of coal, a cord of wood was 15 dollars or whatever, it was just barely enough for us to live on anyways, to live on anyways, so. Yeah we never had, any—like lady had a clothes line in the back, so we would hang, my mother would hang our washed clothing in the back. But in the winter time what she had to do was put up lines in the kitchen, Laughs. and hang it all up in the kitchen. Laughs. One thing too like when we were in Lemon Creek, we didn’t have too much in the way of health care so to speak. My teeth were just rotten.
00:56:03.000
00:56:03.000
EY
Were there a lot of individuals with different health problems in the camp?
HH
Well there were different things, we seemed to be getting a lot of inoculations, like shots, and when I think about it now I figure maybe they were experimenting with us, I’m not quite sure. Laughs. Because I remember getting one shot, it was it. . . I had to put my arm in a sling so to speak, you know. I don’t know what it was. All they say was, “Everybody come and line up and come in for a shot,” so. And usually in the camp what happened too was somebody had the measles, Laughs. everybody pretty well end up with measles and mumps or whatever. Very contagious like, yeah. And then when a person died, they always had a group of men, having to cremate, by bonfire, the bodies, like, yeah.
EY
Did that happen often?
HH
I can’t recall because I was the kid—never knew how many, but I think there was some, you know. Cause I don’t think they ever buried anyone really in that area. Yeah. Cause there used to be like from—if you were from the United Church, you would have a crew of men that would be responsible for the cremations. Something I don’t think anyone really wanted.
EY
Do you remember attending church in the camp?
HH
Yeah.
EY
And if so do you remember the people who worked there?
HH
Yeah well there was just a . . .. Shuffling through pages. Like this, there’s a picture in here. The United Church that was in front of our house? I went to Sunday school. There was the ladies, the white ladies, that would run the place. Harry searches for a photo within his folder. And I think I have a picture. . ..somewhere of our. . .. Oh here. Harry presents a photo of the church. That’s the United Church here, the members.
EY
Do you remember who these individuals were?
HH
No I—I really can’t. No I can’t remember all the. . . Laughs. But they were right—like our house was here, and the church was in front so it was very handy for me to go to the United Church, that’s how we started. That’s why we belonged to the United Church. My grandmother was a Buddhist.
EY
Earlier you had mentioned your grandfather. . .
HH
Yeah.
EY
Can you speak to his story?
HH
My grandfather actually from what I hear was, he was a. . . In the war between China and Japan, he was in Merchant Marines there. And then naturally he ended up—I remember him talking about walking around with a sword, because he’d be in the late 1800s? And that’s when they still had the swords and everything else, so.
01:00:12.000
01:00:12.000
HH
And he was the first to come here with my dad, I think, to Canada. Well and like my uncle, actually, I mentioned served with the First World War of the Canadian Forces, so. So he came back and he was—we all—I remember my dad saying that he was a drunk and everything else, but now that we know what happens to all these people, we can realize. . . in those days we just said he’s a drunk and he ended up going back to Japan. And we never followed up on what happened to him. I do—we do have a picture of him in uniform.
EY
And what was his name?
HH
Bunkichi. He was wounded. In fact, I, somewhere I’ve got his—from the archives in Ottawa—I’ve got his army thing—record. When he enlisted. And it says he was five feet one. Laughs.
EY
After your family left the camp, were there any ways that you passed on the stories? Did your parents pass on stories to you, and have you passed on stories to your children? About the internment?
HH
Oh yes, my children know all about it. In fact, last year—about two years ago? On my 80th birthday two years ago, my son and his family, my daughter and her family, we met in Vancouver and we went to Vancouver Island. And went to Ucluelet. I showed them where our house used to be, and different stories that I told them about, yeah. And then last year, not this— last year my son wanted to go to Lemon Creek. So naturally from Calgary it’s not too far driving, so we drove to Lemon Creek to show him the field. And Lemon Creek, there’s a plaque there saying that this was the location of Lemon Creek internment camp. That railway track that ran by the Lemon Creek now is a trail for, you know, hikers or bikers or whatever. And then actually two years ago when we did go to Ucluelet, we stopped in Vancouver, and we stopped at Hastings Park. And we went to Hastings Park and that Liberty stable is still there. And it’s painted red now. And there was a plaque in front of there, too, so. So my children know. I told them the stories of what happened.
EY
After your family came to Winnipeg, did you still stay connected to your Japanese culture?
HH
Oh yeah, yeah. We always celebrated New Years as a family and, you know, like with a sushi and so forth. My mother was a very good cook, so. Laughs. But one thing I found coming to Winnipeg was that I had trouble, anyways—is that I couldn’t get any help going to school, cause my dad couldn’t speak English or do anything to help me. So I was pretty well on my own. So my neighbor, one of my neighbors, became my very good friend. In fact we’re still friends. He’s the one that got me going to the library and helped me out.
EY
And is he originally from Winnipeg?
HH
Well he’s the local at Winnipeg, yeah. Ukrainian friend.
EY
What’s his name?
01:05:03.000
01:05:03.000
HH
In fact he’s the principal of Sisler High. George Heshka. Harry writes the name on paper for the interviewer. He’s still teaching. I said “What are you still teaching?” But he was a very good friend. And his brother, his brother Bill Heshka, he just passed away two years ago. He was in—he worked for Air Canada, and when he worked in Air Canada that was building here on Donald Street, I think. You know it, Air Canada? And when they relocated the Head Office to Montreal, he moved to Montreal. And then I remember going to visit him in Montreal, l and then after when he retired he went to Sainte-Catherine's. So I always drove down there, always went to visit him, yeah. And the few years back, I went to the internet and found one of the friends from Ucluelet who had repatriated to Japan. He was quite interesting, the stories that he told me. He was in Toronto. So I looked him up and we had lunch together.
EY
And what’s his name?
HH
Hugo Hama. I don’t know if you want to use his name—don’t know if he wants his name used or not. Laughs. No he—we used to always chum together when we were in Ucluelet. Cause he’s about the only person that I know, now, like in Winnipeg there’s only another family that came from Ucluelet. They Oe’s were the only ones that came to Winnipeg now.
EY
Are there any other stories you would like to tell about, your childhood or the internment, or?
HH
Well internment part was like in Lemon Creek everything, other than you know my mother, my mom and dad having to worry about feeding us and so forth, because of the limited money that we had. That—they had the problem. But I had as a kid, had a good time. I remember going to see Tom Sawyer and then once we saw Tom Sawyer, we used to go to the river and build a raft, and float down the river you know like Tom Sawyer, but for me as a little kid it was okay. We could put up with the bologna, you know. And some of the rice we got was not what you call pure rice, because there was a lot of, you know, other seeds in there so what we did when we got a bag of rice in Lemon Creek, was we get a table and we’d dump the rice and the whole family get in kernel by kernel, we sort the rice out.
EY
What other food were you distributed in Lemon Creek?
HH
You know one of the first things they gave us used to be, used to be a biscuit about this big? I guess it’s—in the army they call it hard tack is it? Laughs. It was hard as a rock. And they gave it to us we said, “What do we do with this thing?” Can’t bite it, you have to soak it. But as time progressed in Lemon Creek we had two stores there. So we can go buy certain thing, and then naturally you could just buy so much because you had war time, like anybody else you still had to use a coupon book. You could just buy one pound of butter or whatever it is, so much meat. But they could just buy so much because you had no refrigeration. Only thing that was very plentiful there was the summer time was the apples. Laughs. I remember go, we used to went, the ones that were really having trouble when we were in Lemon Creek, too, along with us, was a Doukhobors. You heard about them?
01:10:01.000
01:10:01.000
HH
They were a sect that were living in—they’re the ones that used to burn their house, if they didn’t agree with them, things. They all undressed and burnt their house down. Laughs. You probably can read about that later somewhere, but they had farms outside of Lemon Creek. They used to come with their wagons, sell us chickens or eggs and things like that, veggies. We used to go and buy cherries. And they’d give us a bag and they say, “Go up that tree and pick your own cherries.” With us as kids we’d go up the cherry tree and we’d eat just as much as we pick, Laughs. and bring it back and say “How much?” And it’d be 10 cents or whatever. Laughs. So like I say as for kids we had a good time, yeah. And being with friends that was okay, too, because you had lots of friends, speaking your own language. I had more problems when I came to Winnipeg. Some like when we first came to Winnipeg, there was that—most of the Japanese people that came to Winnipeg. . . Had already worked on sugar beet farms. And they were kind of friendly—and they knew each other now, and they merged into the city here. Somehow, we—and they came from different, like a lot of them were from mainland—so somehow we never really got to know them that well. Like with Ken, the reason we know him is he’s related to me, on my grandmother’s side or something, yeah. But over and above that, we never really got together with them in any form for quite a long time. Because we had no transportation or anything, and we were scattered across Winnipeg. We were out in Point Douglas and quite a few Japanese families were in the West End, around Daniel McIntyre around there. So I found it a bit difficult just to get to know—and I found that, I always think of myself with the black people in the south, because whenever I got on the bus, I always went to the back of the bus. I didn’t want to create any problem. So when everyone got on the bus, I always went to the back of the bus. It’s something inwardly, you know. Maybe there wasn’t any discrimination but I always felt discrimination, yeah. And even when I mentioned about getting a job and everything. Summertime, when I went for a job I went for the dirtiest job because I know nobody would want it. Cause one summer I went at the furrier—stinkiest, dirtiest place. . . and they gave me a job for the summer, like, you know. But I don’t think anybody else would have taken that job. But when I turned 15, I—because in the Manitoba law, you can start working when you’re 15. So when I turned 15, I went to work as a pin setter, bowling alley? And you go and you work three nights, I think, as a 15 year old. And we had a great money making, you know three cents a game. Laughs. So we set, I set for two leagues in a night and I go out and rush home, do my homework, go and get to the bowling alley for seven o’ clock. For seven to nine, set for one league. Nine to eleven, set for another league. And then come home, late at night. Laughs. And made a dollar 80. And then I drank a soft drink or so, which cost me another dime or whatever, yeah. Because I never had a radio, didn’t even have a bike, cause my dad couldn’t afford it. So eventually after pin setting everything, eventually bought myself a little mantle radio, and then later on I bought myself a bike. Laughs. So something you had to—it’s not like now where the parents buy kids bikes and everything else, but I had to do everything on my own, yeah. It was tough. Laughs.
01:15:37.000
01:15:37.000
EY
As you grew older what kind of careers did you have?
HH
Well the only thing I wanted to do was get—you know when I started St. John. . . Norquay School I was almost the second last to third last in the class, ‘cause like I say with French I was Laughs. zero pretty well. Laughs. So I gradually worked my way up, and then I think finally got a good maths teacher. It was the best maths teacher I ever had. And. . . it finally got through to me how to do algebra, and since then maths became my best subject. In fact I had 100% in one class. Laughs.
EY
What was his name?
HH
Ah geez, right now top of my head I can’t recall. Yeah. He was a gentleman with a mustache. Both laugh.
EY
We can come back to that.
HH
Yeah yeah, no he really taught the right—knew how to teach people and he got me really going in math, and that’s the way you wanted, you know. I like maths even now, I still do Sudoku and everything. Laughs. So I worked my way up doing a lot of work at home and with my friend George and Bill, talking to me, and then they got me to reading all the classics. Moby Dick and all that stuff, which I would never had done if it wasn’t for them, you know. And then my grades started to improve. And then by the time I got through grade nine, I was top ten, so I was able to go to St. John’s High School, as an accelerated. So in those days, remember you used to go to grade 12? Well I was able to since I was in the accelerated class, I just go to grade ten and eleven and that was it, like, you know.
EY
Wow.
HH
And then when I got to St. John’s High School, I said no more of this French so I took German. Laughs. I still remember that German teacher, Mr. Beer. He was a really stodge German. Laughs. And then St. John’s Technical High School, you could take any other trades, so I took all kinds of trades there. I took drafting, I took wood turning, forging, not forging forging, but you know with metal made a screwdriver and chisel and all of those things, yeah. I took a lot of drafting, I enjoyed that drafting. Oh typing too, I took typing. Laughs. But the main thing I wanted to do was finish high school and then go to work. My doctor, who was a very good gentlemen you know as I was starting to finish my high school he said, “Why don’t you go to university?” He said he can get me a bursary.
EY
Wow.
01:19:26.000
01:19:26.000
HH
But I said, “Well I can’t because we’re in such a dump in Higgins there.” I had to go to work, so. When I finished high school, I went to work. I went to work at the Western Flyer Coach Company, the bus company, and that was not a very good place to work. You know in those days—that’s why I got a hearing aid. Notice the hearing aid? Well when I worked the bus company, so much noise, you never had ear protection, you never had any kind of masks or anything like that. I used to get nose bleeds. And then one time there was a bus come, an older bus come, because when they were building buses there, brand new, but occasionally they’d get an old bus in, to renovate? And one particular time they said, “Here’s a bus, get in there.” They gave me some cleaning fluid. “Get in the bus,” they got chewing gum on the floor and everything else. So here I’m scraping chewing gum, I’ve got this cleaning fluid, and then somehow somebody closed the door on me. Now I’m in all this fumes. And I come out of there and I’m like a zombie. So I said this job is no good for me. And then naturally you’re helping riveters with all that rat-tat-tat, because you’re just a Joe Boy there. So after a couple of years I quit. Laughs. Because it was not good for my health or anything else, so. So I kept on getting different jobs, trying to get—naturally everything was minimum wage though. Worked for McCain Electric, as an apprentice electrician, but that didn’t work out too well because I wasn’t making any money. Because what happened in those days as an apprentice, unless you went out with a journeyman, you never got paid. Like I would go with my lunch and I’d get there to the office and they’d say, “Well nobody needs an apprentice,” so I’d sit there in the office but then I don’t get paid. So I said, “That’s no good.” So I quit that job. Laughs. And it was cold, too. You know the airport, in Ellice Avenue? That little one hotel? I was involved in building that thing, as a apprentice thing. In those days the electrical piping was a galvanized pipe, and you have to thread them, and then here it is the middle of winter, and I’m supposed to thread these pipes. And they said, “There’s an oil can in there” so I get the oil can. Naturally in the winter time, the oil doesn’t flow. So I said “What do I do?” Says, “Stick your finger in there, get the grease, put it a little.” Laughs. So that job didn’t last very long. Laughs. Cause when, if you don’t go out to work, you know, there’s no money coming in, so. And then after that I got out of there and went to clothing factory, Junior Wear. I worked there like you know, just a Joe Boy, stock boy. And they said, “Go get me some cloth from the storage and bring it in,” and then after he said, “Sweep up the floor,” you sweep up the floor. Laughs. And during the time I was working there, that my friend Ben Mamrick, he came along. He’s the one that was one of my friends lived along the George Inland. He said, “There’s an advertisement in the paper saying that MTS is hiring people.” That was back in 1953. And he says, “They’re hiring” and he’s going in for an interview. He says, “Why don’t you come in for an interview?” I said “Ok.” So I went with Ben, and initially I said, “Well heck, that’s a government job, I don’t think I’ll get it.” But he say, “No, come on,” he says, “If they don’t like you or want you just get rejected, so what?” You know. But I said, “Well I dunno if I’ll have a chance there,” so. You got nothing to lose. So I went with Ben, and that’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I got in with Ben and then what happened was once we got in with the MTS, I got onto the seniority list ahead of him because they put it in alphabetically. Both laugh. So I imagine his is an M and mine is an H, so I’m one letter senior to him. Laughs. That’s where I spent my 38 years. But if it wasn’t for Ben I wouldn’t have ever gotten to the MTS, like, you know. Because I just struggled and you know he could just see that, jumping jobs. And once I got to MTS, I stared getting a steady, steady job. In fact the minimum wage at that time was 90 cents, I think, and I was only making 50 cents an hour at the clothing factory, you know. So it was a big jump. So I saved some money, and I was helping my mom and dad, naturally. So I eventually—1956 my dad had some money from the government, I think 1a thousand bucks for his boat or something. So he said, “We got down payment.” So that’s when we got the house.
01:26:11.000
01:26:11.000
HH
I still remember walking, walking, walking looking for a house. Then finally I got this house by—on Maryland Street. I think the home was 7200 dollars, I think. But that was a lot of money, you know, because you know you’re only making 1600 dollars or something like that annually, you know. So what we did was we bought the house, he paid the initially mortgage—I looked after the second mortgage, and somehow we worked it out so we could buy that house. And then shortly thereafter, I was making, I was going to make a down payment on a car. Both laugh. But it was—it’s been a rough ride. Mostly you know, when you can’t get much help from your parents, you know, like my dad always supported me, but he just couldn’t speak the language so anything that to go to the doctor or anything like, that I had to go with him, like ,you know.
EY
Did he learn as he aged? Or did he continue to speak Japanese?
HH
Hmm?
EY
Did he learn English as he got to an older age living in Winnipeg?
HH
Oh yeah this is a—really start to use English more once I come to Winnipeg cause he had to.
EY
But did—sorry did your father learn English later on in his life?
HH
Not really, just enough to do his job and say, “yes sir,” “no sir,” you know very little English anyways. My mother never learn English whatsoever. But he can speak to her and she says—shake her head, or. Laughs. No it’s—because I was able to help my sisters, you know. It’s a lot easier when you know something, you can teach, help, you know.
EY
Are your sisters still alive?
HH
My second sister passed away, she had cancer and passed away. My other sister, she lives here in Strathmillan Road and my youngest sister she was born in Winnipeg. Laughs. She was born 1950. So she’s—in fact when my cousin got married, I was carrying my sister in my arm, I was 17 years old I think. And somebody came up and said, “Is that yours?” Both laugh. I says, “No, my sister.” Laughs. Cause, you know, during the war there’s nothing much—you didn’t want to bring up children, anyways. Yeah.
EY
How old was your second youngest sister during the internment?
HH
She would be, she was just born. She was born 1941, so she was just—My mother always worried about her because of the nutrition that she wasn’t getting during the time that we were in the internment camp. It really hurt her too when she passed away here too, so, yeah. Cause that’s the year my wife passed away too, so.
01:30:10.000
01:30:10.000
EY
How did you meet your wife?
HH
Mine was just like my dad, picture from Japan.
EY
Oh wow.
HH
The reason I wanted a girl that could speak Japanese was because I wanted her to communicate with my mom and dad, you know. Like the other girls, they you know just couldn’t speak Japanese at all. You know, you noticed that a lot of them can’t. That was my view point anyways. So she came from Osaka Laughs.
EY
Are there any other stories you’d like to say?
HH
Well I think the main thing is that trying to get around, like other people, like Ken and them, they always got along okay because they knew people already. And whereas myself, not having any vehicle or anything like that, I never got to meet like Ken or any other, our own community, young people, till I started working with MTS, like. Even then I never met them till I got a car. Laughs. Actually I got to really know more people about 1960 or so, when I joined the bowling league. Prior to that, you know they always talked about going to dances and things like that, but I could never afford it. Cause here I’m trying to save money, trying to buy a house or, I guess I was thinking more of my parents more than, you know.
EY
When did you start curling?
HH
When I starting curling was—what happened was with MTS, in 1956 I think? One of the fellows there said, “We’re starting a curling league.” I worked at St. Johns Exchange, which is on Burrows? That telephone building there? And the fella says, “Ah, why don’t you try curling?” I said, “I haven’t curled in my life.” Oh he says, “Why don’t you come out curling.” That’s when I started curling, with the MTS because MTS always had curling, I forgot what day it was, after work like. Another story I’ll tell you is when I first came to Winnipeg, the first winter, I could never figure out why people were walking around with brooms. Get on the street and here’s these people with brooms, you know. Now I realize they were curlers. Because in those days remember the brooms were just like regular brooms?
EY
Mhmm.
HH
Laughs. So things like that it’s really funny when you first think about it, you know. And in those days you look at all these people—you don’t see nowadays, somehow. I remember waiting for street cars and all these people standing in the middle of Main Street or Portage Avenue, you see their noses white, frozen? Laughs. But the first winter was really quite something to remember. Yeah.
EY
Well I think for today, I think we’ll end it there.
HH
I think we covered a lot of ground. Laughs.
EY
We did, we covered quite a lot! Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you, and collect—archive your life story.
HH
I guess there’s other things I can probably bring up.
EY
Well we can always speak again.
HH
Yeah, sure, sure.
EY
Well this has been Erin Yaremko for Landscapes of Injustice.
01:34:47.000

Metadata

Title

Harry Hamade, interviewed by Erin Yaremko, 19 November 2015

Abstract

Harry Hamade was raised in Ucluelet before being interned in Lemon Creek, and then later relocated to Winnipeg. He speaks about how his father initially immigrated to Steveston before moving to the fishing grounds in Ucuelet; he talks about his mother coming over to Canada as a picture bride. He narrates how his father had just bought a new house before being uprooted, and the conditions of sailing the Juan de Fuca Strait in the fishing fleet. He discusses the living quarters at Hastings Park, and the conditions in the Slocan Valley area when incarcerated in Lemon Creek. Harry discusses going to a french school in Winnipeg and initially struggling with his studies, but his later academic success due to close friends. He speaks about the hardship of working different jobs in Winnipeg before finding stable employment with MTS.

Credits

Interviewee: Harry Hamade
Interviewer: Erin Yaremko
Audio Checker: Jennifer Landrey
Final Checker: Jennifer Landrey
Final Checker: Natsuki Abe
Encoder: Natsuki Abe
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Keywords: Ucluelet ; Lemon Creek ; Winnipeg ; Steveston ; Nisei; Picture Bride; Juan de Fuca Strait ; Fisher; Hastings Park ; Slocan Valley ; Popoff ; United Church ; Transcona ; 1940s-60s

Terminology

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.