Helen Hughan, interviewed by Rebeca Salas, 07 August 2017

Helen Hughan, interviewed by Rebeca Salas, 07 August 2017

Abstract
Helen describes what it was like growing up in New Westminster in the 1930s and 1940s, as part of a working-class Scottish immigrant family, including living through the war. She relates a very few stories about connections with Japanese Canadian and other racialized people in New Westminster, including a Japanese Canadian taxi driver who lived down the street from them and who vanished along with his family right after Pearl Harbor. She tells how ordinary people like herself and her family at the time often didn’t know or understand what was going on, or discuss it, but her generation of young people felt it was wrong what happened to Japanese Canadians. There was little interaction between whites and the small number of non-whites in New Westminster at the time, though Helen mentions knowing that many Japanese Canadian fishermen lived on Lulu Island.
00:00:00.000
Rebeca Salas (RS)
This is Rebeca Salas, I'm here with Helen Hughan, we're here in New Westminster, at her home, and we're doing her interview for the Landscapes of Injustice project. And, it is, let's see, August 7, 2017. Alright, so maybe we can, we can start like we discussed, and hear a little bit about, you know, who you are, and your time in New West as well.
Helen Hughan (HH)
Okay, right.
RS
Okay Sound of microphone adjusting. Go ahead.
HH
Okay. Uh...yes I came, I came to New Westminster...in 1929, I was born in Scotland in 1926. And my family and I came here, 1929. Because my parents had been, um, down the mines. Um, since they were twelve and, that was not good so we came here to the land of the plenty. Unfortunately, in 1929 was the year of the Depression. So, we were in New Westminster, my father got laid off he was digging ditches in New Westminster, for sixteen cents an hour, and he was laid off the day my mother and I arrived. But, uh, he carried on, he did just about anything he could to raise money...he ended up getting a job at the Mohawk Lumber company, and he also, had a second job. Serving beer, at the Terminal, Beer Parlour on, down on Twelfth Street. Uh, in order to make ends meet for the family. And I, I went to school here, I went to F.W. Howie Elementary, John Robson Junior High, and Trapp Tech Senior High. Graduated in grade twelve, and I worked at um, Mercer Shipyards in the office, after that and, that was during the war. I came out of school in '44, so I had gone into high school, '39. The year the war started. And then I worked at the shipyard office. Um, during the war, right until...1949, when I got married. And um, growing up in New Westminster was really quite, uh, quite interesting...we walked everywhere, there was no public transportation. And um ... it was ... it isn't like it is now with high rises and apartments. When we came here, it was all single-family dwellings. Shopping was done on Columbia Street. And um, the market was still down there too, on Columbia St. And, uh, the Quay, which is not like it is now with all these wonderful, high-rise apartments, it was a working. Dock. Um, and a whole terminal. And it stretched from, the Fraser River, um ... down at the, where it joined the, the two, ends meet, the north arm and south arm meet. It was ALL industrial, right up to Sapperton. And um, uh, it was a working dock, it was just the big ships would come in, and um. Uh ... Columbia Street was a shopping area. The stores were all there, and that was the only place for shopping. And the whole city was single-family dwellings. I think there was three apartment buildings in New Westminster, still operating, they are, today. Um, they were, low-rises, about four stores? And um ... it didn't start taking off until WELL after the war, I guess in the, probably the fifties and sixties it started, yes, because the Woodward's got started in here. And that was the start of, of the expansion. And um, uh ... I'm stuck for now ... Tape is paused.
RS
Okay, we're back, we're recording.
HH
Okay. Yeah. Um...yes, and going to school. Um...there weren't, we...we were pretty well all Caucasians, who were living in New Westminster. We had, uh, one black family, one, or two...one Japanese family that lived on our street. Most of the Japanese lived down on, the Fraser River, because they were the fishermen and they were, uh, they lived on their boats or little houses that were right on, on the waterfront. The whole area up that canal was just all Japanese. And, we didn't, I didn't go to school with any Japanese. Um, there was, I think we had one Chinese family that I went to school with. And, um...the one Japanese family that was on, the street I lived on, they were interred the day after the war was declared, they were gone. And we never EVER knew what happened to them, whether they were interred, or they had left and gone back to Japan. We never knew that.
00:05:00.000
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HH
And there was another family that lived further down on 11th Street, and um...um, and they were interred also. As were, all the Japanese, and there were. Their houses were confiscated, their boats were confiscated, and they never got any of that back again, after, at the end of the war. They were just...like set free? Some of them didn't COME back. Some of them stayed in the places that they were, sent to, because they had made a life for themselves there. And, were quite comfortable, and probably got jobs, because I don't know what they would have done, trying to find jobs back here. In New West. Um...it was a very, small town, in the sense that, um...people, pretty well knew, you knew just about everybody. Either to nod to or say hello or, or, you know, chatted or you were friendly. But there was two sections of the town. From 6th Street to Queen's Park, was the uh, what we called the upper crust, they were the people that, OWNED the businesses on Columbia Street, and the mills and all that stuff that were around. Companies. Um...they owned them. And the people from 6th Street, um, west, were the blue collar workers. And, they were in the, the, uh. Not so fancy houses and uh, smaller houses, et cetera. Um...it was, it was, so interesting because there was, there was, how many mills around here, there was Alaska Pine, Mohawk Lumber Company, um...Fraser Mills, Timberland...um...that all had, mills, and beehive, that we were, we were plagued with beehives, on wash day it was not very pleasant because you were hanging laundry out and they would all be covered with black soot, from the beehives. But it was...our um, our industry. And so, we never thought very much about it. And the trains were still, the trains were here at the time. That was another part of our economy. And uh...all of the uh, industrial areas. That were down on the waterfront. Were all places for people to work here. So it was a very vibrant work, blue collar work, workers' area. Except for the people that owned all the businesses, and um. But that gave, also. Us as teenagers in high school, we all worked on Columbia Street. In uh, Cop Shoe Store, Kresky's, Woolworth's, Spencer's, the Army and Navy. They all provided work for, for the um...high school students. In the summer. Um...and the Saturdays. Because it was, we all worked down there. Uh...all the years we were going to high school. So that was a, a good place. Um, also in my younger years, going to high school, I worked in the cannery. And I stewed peat, and picked berries. And uh, worked in the cannery, so. These were all places that provided jobs for teenagers as well. And, um...then, when I came, graduated from high school I worked at Mercer Shipyards. And that was during the war where we built, uh, minesweepers for the war, fair miles for the war, and um. And our usual fishing. Fishing boats, that's what we built a lot of. And um, was fishing, fishing boats, and, we repaired a lot of tugs for Gilley Brothers, they were down on the waterfront, Web and Gifford, um, Bratman Kerr Milling Company, and all of the trains, were here, the train. Um, we still have the original train station down on Columbia Street. Which turned into being The Keg, restaurant, which is now empty, and we're kind of hoping they might do something with that building, and renovate it, and keep it there, because that was the original train station. That the trains came that the, um, passenger trains came. And, that's where you took the train from, to go anywhere you wanted to go. Is down the, bottom of 8th Street and, and Columbia. And the other, part of the war, was. When I was in high school...um, we were, uh, the troops used to march down 8th Street. In front of our school when they were going overseas. And we always got to go out onto the street from the school, to, wave them on and. And um...oh, kind of support them and uh, also. Uh, the day that um. Uh...“wait for me Daddy” happened, was a day I was out in the street watching the troops go by, and a little boy was, little, raced down the street, going out to meet his daddy, that's a very famous, um, picture. That came from New Westminster. Wait for me Daddy. So I, I saw that.
00:10:02.000
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HH
So these were all very interesting things that were going on during the war. I also worked as a, dance hostess at one of the churches that used to do, for the troops were coming, the sailors would come in, and, there was no place for them to go, so, the churches would open up um, places for them to go, and have dances, and, we were well chaperoned and because we'd have lots of the older people there to see that everything was, on the up and up, and it was, it was kind of fun to do that too. And, uh, and it was nice for the, um, the troops coming in, because, there was nothing for them to DO. Like, there was a couple of theatres down on Columbia Street if that's what they wanted to do but very little else. So, this was a nice way to um, make them welcome. They're away from home. Mmm. Yeah. Kay...thinking. Um...how am I doing, am I getting carried away, or?
RS
Nope.
HH
No?
RS
Uh, can I ask you a question?
HH
M-hm.
RS
Okay. Um...I remember that, and you just said it now, that most of the kids that you went to school with were Caucasian.
HH
Yeah.
RS
And you remember, uh, on Chinese student.
HH
Yeah.
RS
Um...but you told me, uh...prior to the interview, a story about, uh, a Japanese, Canadian...man who drove a taxi. Um,
HH
Yes, he's the one that went back, we, we don't know what happened to him.
RS
Right, right. But could you maybe tell us, uh, a little bit about your experiences, with him and you know, how you got to meet him in person, even though you don't remember his name, or, anything like that.
HH
No I don't remember his, I don't, I don't know that I ever knew it.
RS
Right.
HH
You know. And, of course. By that, I was, in juni- it was, no, junior high by that time, I guess, or elementary. So, you know. It's...so way back there.
RS
Mhm.
HH
And um...but yes I can, I can...do you want me to just to go in, go on and say something about that one now?
RS
Sure, yeah. Maybe you can tell us about, you know, when he used to pick you guys up.
HH
Yes. Okay, yeah.
RS
Yeah. laugh
HH
Okay. Yeah.
RS
So go ahead.
HH
Okay.
RS
Yeah.
HH
Uh, a little further story about the Japanese family that lived on our street. Our street was only a block long, and, we pretty well knew everybody, but this Japanese family moved in. And this gentleman was a taxi driver. And um...uh, in those days a taxi driver, brought the car home and it was parked in front of their house, and uh. Anyway, he, he was very congenial, um. I guess I would have been in either elementary or junior high at the time, I can't quite remember. But he, he um, he would drive us, to school. Because he had a family of his own and he would be driving them, so he'd, take us kids, if we were on the street, he'd pick us up and, take us to, to school. And he was um, very congenial, very nice person. His kids seemed, his kids were younger than us. Um...and, but he. Uh, never, I never got to, I don't think I ever knew his name, if I did, I've forgotten it, because I was, very young at the time. And um...but uh. It was very interesting, uh. Because we were, it was. Becoming apparent, that the Japanese were going to be, um, collected and sent somewhere. And, we kind of were concerned about this, family, but. As it happened we don't know what happened to them, because, the day that war was declared, the next day their house was empty, they were, nowhere to be seen, ever again. So we don't know what happened to them.
RS
Hmm.
HH
They weren't sort of uh, collected when the others were, to be sent. Uh, collected over at Hastings Park. So I don't know, maybe he just, took off and went somewhere.
RS
Hmm.
HH
It's hard to say.
RS
Do you remember, walking down to the house and seeing it empty?
HH
Oh yeah. Down to the, his house?
RS
Yeah.
HH
Oh yeah. Because it, it was only about, six houses away from us.
RS
Hmm.
HH
It was a strip - our street was only a block long. You know, so. Went from Third Avenue to Queen's Avenue, so.
RS
So was that something that entered your, your mind, and other people's mind right away to go check and see? If they were home? Like, when the war broke out? Or,
HH
Uh, well I think the adults did. We, as kids, we, were just sort of, oh, what happened, you know. And, of course our imaginations were, wild. And um...but, it was never really talked about.
RS
Right.
HH
It, it was. One of those things that, uh, adults kind of, sloughed over...um...didn't tell us very much. Uh, they just said oh maybe they went, home, but went back, to Japan, who knows, where. You know. I don't think anything was ever, sort of, mm. It was just accepted that they were gone.
RS
I see.
HH
Yeah. Right. That's what, I was led to believe, anyway. That, you know.
00:15:00.000
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RS
So that was uh...you, I imagine you would have, at that time asked your parents about it,
HH
Yeah.
RS
And that's what they would have told you?
HH
Yes. Yes, “oh, they're just gone”, you know.
RS
I see. Yeah.
HH
Don't know, so.
RS
Uh-huh.
HH
We got a lot of “I don't know”s. laugh
RS
laugh Fair.
HH
Yeah, right. A LOT of “I don't know”s. laugh
RS
Okay.
HH
Yeah.
RS
And you mentioned, um, that that family had a little bit, of a different timeline than other, people of Japanese descent who might have been in, in New West,
HH
Yes.
RS
Um, with those, did you also...uh, see them leave? Was that something that you witnessed?
HH
No.
RS
Okay.
HH
They, they were, I don't know how they did it. I just don't, because, we weren't AWARE. Like, there wasn't a place that they congregated and then went. Because I think...what - see, there wasn't that many Japanese here, in New West. So, they, were just, probably picked up, and taken.
RS
Right.
HH
Or they were, told they had to leave, and go someplace. And they, congregated at Exhibition Park. To start with.
RS
Right.
HH
And then they were broken up into groups and sent to various, areas in the province.
RS
Mhm.
HH
You know?
RS
Mhm.
HH
And um...so it's um...the only person I ever came in contact with after was uh, Mary Nakamoto who I told you about, I worked with her at Edmonds School. And she was one of the Japanese that was interred at Greenwood.
RS
Right.
HH
And, her family. And her family chose to stay there. And uh, her parents, lived there until they passed away. Um...they had made a life for themselves there, and didn't want to, uproot and come any, go anywhere else.
RS
Mhm.
HH
They'd been uprooted once and that was enough.
RS
Mhm.
HH
So, um, you know.
RS
So one, I guess one question that's coming up for me now, is, uh, deciphering what, you saw yourself, as a, as a teenager, or as a, a young, person, versus what you, what you learned later in time. Or what...you know, perhaps, you had looked into yourself, or, or, looked into, you know the history, um, after the war was over, so. It sounds like, and correct me if I'm wrong, um...what you DID witness, was, um, this family being there one day,
HH
Yes.
RS
And then, going to their house, and then, another, day,
HH
It's gone.
RS
-they just weren't there.
HH
They just weren't there. That's right. And that's just how it happened.
RS
Mhm.
HH
You know, it, they were there, and then they weren't. So, um...and I don't even know if, if the place was a furnished place, or, or, it was their furniture or not, I, that's something I have NO idea.
RS
I see.
HH
Yeah.
RS
I see.
HH
That's. You know, those, kind of things weren't, high, high on your, priority list as a youngster. You know.
RS
Mhm. laugh
HH
Kids, right. So.
RS
That's right.
HH
Yeah. So. And, and as far as the people disappearing, um...yeah, it was, it was a hush-hush, kind of a thing. Um, people were, most of the people were unhappy about it, because...they had, um...uh, there's one Japanese family that, grew up, well they were BORN here. And, why were they being, interred? They're Canadians. But because they're, they were Japanese, uh...second generation or whatever...they, were still Japanese.
RS
Mhm.
HH
Um, that question never came up, as to why if we were born here, it might have come up, but. You're Japanese. You're going.
RS
Hm.
HH
Because, you MIGHT have connections. You know? So who can tell? pause It was...it was so hard. The war was, um...was very hard in those days, because. Not like today, where you know, before it happens practically, on the TV. They're telling, you know everything. But in those days, the only way you got to find out about anything was going to the show, and when they ran the newsreels. You got war stories. You didn't get a lot on the radio. Um...you got a lot of the fighting, what there was going on, but. You know, that wasn't immediate, it was like a day or so later. Or, a WEEK later. Because, communications weren't, as ready as they are today.
RS
Mhm.
HH
So, uh. You, you found out what was happening, overseas when you went to the show on a Saturday, and you, and they got the newsreel, on. So.
RS
Mhm.
HH
Thing were not, um, you know. And your, letters, if you're writing back and forth, sometimes the, mail would be, weeks and week later.
RS
Mhm.
HH
So, um...yeah.
RS
So do you remember when...um...the bombing at Pearl Harbor,
HH
Yeah.
RS
-happened, do you remember what sort of, atmosphere...there was in, New West? At that time?
00:20:02.000
00:20:02.000
HH
Yes, I sure can. SHOCK. Total, shock. And disbelief. It just, um, yeah, I, I remember it, very well. And uh, yeah. It was...uh, “oh how could this happen? HOW could this happen?” Um...and then, yeah. It was, just a total, shock.
RS
Mhm.
HH
And un-belief.
RS
Mhm.
HH
That this would happen.
RS
Mhm.
HH
Yeah.
RS
And...I realize that your, you know, your memories, are, those of a, a teenager at that time,
HH
Mhm.
RS
uh, but do you remember witnessing any sort of, um...racism, or...you know, conversations about, uh, the Japanese, at that time? Or,
HH
Well, yes, after Pearl Harbor, there was a lot of that.
RS
Mhm.
HH
Because. The Japanese did it. So. Uh, yes. But before that, I think we were all in shock when they gathered up all the Japanese. Because at that point the Japanese weren't involved. You know? It was Europe. Um...but. Uh...it, it was. There was a lot of, Germans for instance. Yes, people just hated the Germans. There was a lot of, um...animosity there. Uh...and it was quite obvious, you know.
RS
Mhm.
HH
But, um. For the Japanese, they were the fishermen, they provided us with the fish. And um, they did the jobs, on farms that, the white people didn't want to do! You know?
RS
What kind of uh, jobs do you remember them doing?
HH
Well, for instance, um. Oh, just, fruit pickers. Um, planting. And, also reaping. You know. Picking up the, picking the vegetables and stuff. And um...ah, yeah, and. For the white people to sell them. You know? The stores. They didn't have. Like you know how there's a lot of Chinese gardens around?
RS
Yes.
HH
Well, there was, um...um...the same thing with the, in the earlier days it was more Japanese. Um. But they would do the jobs on the farms that, uh, okay now the East Indians are doing that. Same thing. Only it's a different era.
RS
I see.
HH
So it's a different, group of people. Um...see we didn't have East Indians here. Uh, I shouldn't say that, there was one, ONE family I remember who wore turbans, here. In New Westminster. That was it.
RS
Hm.
HH
So, um...and one black family. And uh...not too many, as I said, I went to school with one Chinese girl? And um...yeah. It was...pretty well, it wasn't even a lot, there was a lot of Irish and Scottish here. Because that's, what CAME here, were the British.
RS
Mhm.
HH
And um...and, and there were Chinese. Yeah, because there was a big Chinese, community in Vancouver. But uh, there wasn't a big one here in New Westminster, it was a very small one. And it was down on Columbia Street. That was another thing, they had to live down there, they weren't allowed to come and live up on the, up on the hill.
RS
And how did you...how did you know that, was it something that you could just, observe, or did your parents explain that to you...?
HH
Um, no, I think I picked it up with the kids. Like, my school mates and stuff, you know.
RS
Mhm.
HH
And. And, uh, also the girl I went to school with. They lived down, her father was a tailor. And uh...um...it's. Uh, it's just so WEIRD. It's so hard to explain because, so much time has gone. And things have, are going the other way. If you have to look at the fact that - oh we have so many, people coming to this country now, from ALL places in the world. Where at one point in life, they didn't. There was, mostly the British that came here, the Scottish, the Irish, the English. And, um...there was, groups that started like the Scots, Scots here, started a Sons of Scotland group. Where, every month there was a meeting and, you were, you were, born in Scotland you could join that organization. Same with the Irish. You know?
RS
Mhm.
HH
The English, there was all those different things. And now, these same, uh, areas, these same, clubs, are almost dispersing now, because people are not GOING there, because. There's so many more things to DO in the world today. In uh, the day when that started, there was nothing. It's the same as us, teenagers, we used to meet every month. And go to dances, because that was our entertainment. We went to dances on Saturday night.
00:25:12.000
00:25:12.000
RS
Mhm.
HH
And that's how you met other young people. Because, that's what you did, there was. Nothing else to do. Except to go to the show. You know?
RS
Mhm.
HH
Well, you could only see the same show so many times laugh.
RS
laughs
HH
But, uh, you know, so. It's so hard...uh, you know, to explain it to, people who weren't, from that era?
RS
Yeah.
HH
Because, it's hard for them to look back and think, you know, what do you mean there was NOTHING to do?
RS
Mm.
HH
There wasn't. And we didn't, go far, like um...we took the streetcar to Vancouver. But you didn't go there, as often as you would do NOW, because you can go in half an hour.
RS
Mhm.
HH
It used to take, ages to get there. If you went on Pacific Stages that, that was a LONG, trip. And a streetcar was a good hour...um...you know, that. Oh, it's. Yeah.
RS
Well.
HH
It's just, it's just, hard for me to explain...uh...
RS
No, I think you're doing a, a, good job and I, can totally understand what, what you're saying and,
HH
Yes, it. It's, it is difficult, because. I can see it so clearly. Uh, how things were, then, and how they are now, and there's NO comparison.
RS
Mhm.
HH
It's a whole total different world today.
RS
Mhm.
HH
And uh. The communication, for instance. We didn't even have a PHONE when I was a teenager. If I wanted to talk to my girlfriends I went to their house!
RS
Yes.
HH
And, um. Then when we got a phone, well, we had party lines, so you weren't allowed to stay on the phone for hours on end and we didn't have, little handheld things to talk to uh, your, your friends with? You, you went to TALK to them, and you visited them. And you met on the street. See, on the corner.
RS
Mhm.
HH
You know? And, uh, then you'd go walking someplace, and. Just go to, do - rollerskating, we did a LOT of rollerskating. And ice skating.
RS
Mhm.
HH
Yeah. And skiing. We went, up the mountain skiing, because. That was our, entertainment, that's what we could DO.
RS
Right.
HH
And, uh...yeah.
RS
Well, what better reason for me to, sit and chat with you then, because, both laugh. The information is, is in your mind, right, that, that I'm curious about!
HH
It is. Um, it's just. So very hard, I can see the city, what, what it was like, and, in the forties and, the thirties and the forties. And um...um...but it's just very hard to put it into words?
RS
Hm. Well maybe I can uh, ask you some more specific questions, and that might help.
HH
Yeah.
RS
Okay. One thing I was uh, I was curious about, was. Uh, I heard, uh, you talking about, you know. The city was uh...you know, quite Caucasian at that time. School was, and, um...there was a, a working class sort of, uh, community...
HH
Yeah.
RS
Um. So I, I was wondering if at the shipyards, you were at, uh, Mercer Shipyards, but, were, were the uh...the people there, mainly Caucasian as well?
HH
Uh, yeah, yes, they were. Uh,
RS
Okay.
HH
Uh. They were, but there was a lot of uh, um, European workers, like um...oh, um. From Slovakia...Czechoslovakia, from uh. Uh...yeah, that had accents, from Eastern Europe.
RS
I see.
HH
Yeah.
RS
Okay.
HH
Yeah, that's right, yeah. Because we also built, we built the ships for the war, plus private, uh, ships, and the small, we had a small boat, works too, that they made the, smaller boats, um...rowboats and stuff like that, but, uh.
RS
Okay.
HH
And, that was pretty well all, um. Yeah, most of them were all Caucasians, there was NO, um...coloured people working at all.
RS
Hmm. So I wonder then, um, being closer to the water there,
HH
Yeah.
RS
-did you ever come into contact with, with some of the...Japanese and Japanese Canadian fishermen? Or did you ever notice them, around?
HH
No, I didn't.
RS
Okay.
HH
They pretty well kept, to that um, area down in, in um...well, we call it Richmond now, don't we. Uh. It was Lulu Island before.
RS
Hmm.
HH
And um. Yeah. From...I'm trying to, get my bearings straight. Um...the dykes. Okay. Down at the dykes. On the island, on Lulu Island.
RS
Okay.
HH
Okay. All along those dykes, was where the Japanese, fishermen were. And they probably lived on their boats, or, little houses, close by.
RS
Did you ever go down there?
HH
No.
RS
No?
HH
No, I didn't go down there.
RS
Okay. How did you learn about that place?
HH
Um...I just knew about it. It was just part of New Westminster.
RS
I see.
HH
Yeah, it was just, you just knew that, you know.
RS
Right.
HH
That, that. They were there, because they used to do the fishing and the cannery was, down at Steveston.
RS
Uh-huh.
HH
So, um...yeah. And if you go down to Steveston...there's lots of Japanese, uh...stuff down there because that's where they, took their fish.
RS
Mhm.
HH
And uh...it was the only cannery that I can, FISHING cannery that I can recall here. I remember two fruit and vegetable ones, one at MacPherson and one at, uh, down at the bridge. Uh, the Royal City Cannery was down there. And uh, yeah.
RS
Right.
HH
So...
RS
Did your uh, did your parents ever, interact, with any...uh, Japanese Canadian people?
HH
Uh...you know, I really don't know.
RS
Hmm.
HH
My...if, if they did, my dad would. My dad made friends with everybody.
RS
Oh really?
HH
Oh, yeah.
RS
laughs
HH
He was, he was that type of a person. He would just, uh. And it didn't matter what colour your skin was and what you wore on your head or anything. He um...he, just made friends with everybody. Yeah.
RS
Right.
HH
Yeah, and he was, very. Very nice that way. He just, uh, there was no, racial, stuff as far as he was concerned. You know? My mother was diff- she was different.
RS
Okay.
HH
That...she, um. laughing You didn't come from the right part of Scotland, you were...
RS
Oh. both laugh
HH
laughing You were...
RS
You weren't the right kind of person?
HH
laughing No you weren't!
RS
laughs
HH
You didn't come, from the right part, where she was told was the right part. That, you, yeah, you weren't, no. You weren't worth talking to. No.
RS
Hmm.
HH
No. So. But however, my dad was just the opposite, he laughing.
RS
So would it, have been a similar situation for him then, uh, working at Mohawk Lumber Company, would have been, uh, mainly...you know, British, Scottish, European, type of...characters?
HH
Uh...I think, that I do think there was one, I remember, one, person. That wore a turban. And it would be the same, probably the family, the kids I played with too, you know that, had. And uh...that wore turbans. And, because my dad used to talk about, the fellow, their, their different culture, you. My dad would find out, their culture. And, um. He, he'd be interested in it. You know. And uh. Because I remember him talking about this, East Indian fellow that uh, worked. Worked, at, uh, the Mohawk. And um...uh, how he'd find out different things, you know. About, their culture and stuff, you know.
RS
I see.
HH
It was interesting, yeah.
RS
So, um...during the, during the war, or perhaps even after, if your father was quite interested in, in other people, and,
HH
Yeah.
RS
um, it sounds like, quite an observant person as well,
HH
Yes.
RS
Um...did he ever share any stories with you, about any...uh, Japanese Canadian, uh, people, or uh, areas around, uh, New West?
HH
Uh, no, not really. He, uh. sigh His whole attitude was, live and let live.
RS
Hm.
HH
And, if, it didn't matter what colour you were. He would spoke - he would speak to you. And, if you were a neighbour, um, we had very FEW, coloured. Um, just that one Japanese family. And a Chinese family, and a black family.
RS
Hmm.
HH
And, but he would have never, he made no difference about anybody. He...
RS
I see.
HH
they were people.
RS
Okay.
HH
And, um. Yeah. And I, I probably took that from him, because it's never bothered me. At, at all, because, um...yeah. Been, all my life I've come across...um...all, all types and all...ethnic groups.
RS
Mhm.
HH
And, uh...you know. Particularly now, there's just, oh. It's just amazing. The whites, white, the Caucasians are, losing laughs. Quite fast, too. I mean...
00:30:16.000
00:30:16.000
RS
So maybe moving, um. You know, broadening the scope a little bit outside of your immediate family,
HH
Mhm?
RS
Were there any, uh, community conversations, during the wartime that you recall or maybe even teachers explaining to you, you know what was happening, or was it quite just...
HH
Uh, teachers didn't do that in those days.
RS
No?
HH
No. Uh, in fact, uh, they just taught. What they were, the curriculum. And you sat and listened and you didn't ask questions. That's how it was in school when I was in school.
RS
Okay.
HH
Particularly elementary and junior high? You did NOT interact, with the teachers. You...you listened, and you answered when spoken to.
RS
Mm.
HH
Um...and nothing was ever, ever, ever said about anything like that, it was. Almost like it was...um...against the law. You know. To, to talk about anything like that, about the war, about anything.
RS
Hmm.
HH
Because it was, I don't ever remember even, talking about the WAR at school. The only, in high school? When, um...the troops were going down, were marching down 8th Street, we always got out, to wave at them. But nothing was EVER, said. It was just said, here comes the troops. Out, we go.
RS
Okay.
HH
Yeah, so.
RS
Did you ever speak amongst your friends, about...you know, noticing, things that had changed, or...
HH
sigh Not really, because. You just, you grew up with it, you grew, you grew along with it. Um...and I think in those days, everybody was trying very very hard, to um...have, as...normal a life as possible? Because. Um. Like for instance there was two boys on our street, that one was in the, went in the army, he was the same age as me. And his brother was in the air force, and he was, uh, two years older than, him. And both of them were killed the DAY after they arrived overseas. pause These things are hard to take. You know, when. It's your neighbours? Your next door neighbours? And, uh, our family. So, you don't, you didn't tend to sort of like, um. Um...talk, very much about, um...you'd say, oh, that's too, it's...you'd talk, to the neighbours and say it's too bad about, those boys. And, but, that would be it. Because, uh, there was so much of that going on. In EVERY household. That, sigh it was almost, you don't talk about it.
RS
I see.
HH
You know? It's too painful. And you're thinking about all of the, the people that would come back from the war, there were so many came back...that were ADDLED. Their brains weren't...they just couldn't....um...uh...exist in community.
RS
Hm.
HH
Because, what they had seen and had to do. Was too much for them. And it broke them down. You know? So.
RS
Mhm.
HH
So there's a lot of, of um. It wasn't hush-hush, it was just. Try to go along as normally as you can. Because, we were also being, rationed. And, um, things weren't plentiful. And...and you were restricted, sometimes to where you could go. Um...so. The idea was to have, as normal a life as you possibly could. And uh, and also. Um, with the troops coming in like they were. You didn't go around with long faces. You, tried to be as happy as you can, and. And, uh, be...friendly. And uh...so. This is the way it was.
RS
Mhm.
HH
And that's why as I said. The churches opened up their halls for, dances for the um...the troops, and, and, uh. If you wanted to go and volunteer to be a dance partner, fine. And as I said they were well-chaperoned, and uh. But it was kind of nice to do that, because you were trying to, to do, um...be as normal as possible. Even though, you're in the midst of this, horrible war. And, um. Being rationed with your food, and being rationed with your clothes, and. And, rationed with stockings, you couldn't get stockings, and. Oh, this was when the leg-painting came in, because you couldn't get stockings.
RS
Mm.
HH
So it's another thing, it was just another thing that was taken away from you.
RS
Hmm.
HH
Just one thing after the other. And uh. Rationing was hard, because, like there was only three of us in our family, mother dad and myself, so...rationing was, serious for us. Because you got according to the size of your family. And uh. The ration coupons that you got, well. My mother, um, she would keep the sugar and stuff, so she could do some baking! So that's how I learned to drink, tea and coffee with no sugar.
RS
Ah.
HH
Because I never, I never had it with sugar, so, I didn't know what it was like.
RS
Right.
HH
So, um. But see that's, that's about the same way with everything.
RS
Mhm.
HH
It just um...you know. Yeah.
00:35:47.000
00:35:47.000
RS
Okay. Well I think I have um...thank you for that, I think I have a good idea of what it was like,
HH
Yeah.
RS
Um, here. Uh, during the war. I am curious about, you know when you met, Mary,
HH
Uh-huh.
RS
Uh...at Edmonds, uh, was it, Junior Secondary?
HH
Yes.
00:40:00.000
00:40:00.000
RS
Um, and...I don't know, do, do you recall...your first sort of conversation, about...about this topic, about her experiences, or, did it just sort of,
HH
I think it just sort of HAPPENED, what.
RS
-you got to know to know each other,
HH
Because. There was a group of us at the school. Um, that got to be kind of friendly? Um, like I worked in the office. And Mary, was, uh, Mary was in the...she, she did typing for the teachers. And then there was another, gal, she was the, worked in the lab, for the, um...science. And then there was a library, gal. We all kind of got, to be friends. Because, it seemed to me that it started out with our coffee time. Would happen at the same time. So we'd, we'd get together in the, in the staff room for coffee. And then, then, uh, we started going out SOCIALLY together, going out for dinner, the bunch of us gals, and um. Then sometimes we'd get together with our husbands too and stuff, so. Um, that's how I got to know Mary, was just, through, just social, you know. Through working with her and, and as a social, friend.
RS
Hmm.
HH
You know. Yeah.
RS
And you would have met her in uh, 1949 then?
HH
No, no, I didn't,
RS
Much later, right?
HH
Oh, heavens, I, I...got married in '49. I didn't go back to work. Um, until the kids were in their teens, I guess. The girls were in grade seven, I think. So I went back to work, 1969 was when I went back to work.
RS
Oh, okay.
HH
And I worked at Edmonds School until, '81 I think? It was '80. Something like that. And then I went to work at an elementary school for a couple of years.
RS
Okay.
HH
Before I packed it in.
RS
Oh, excuse me, you started working in 1949. Okay.
HH
Yeah, I, so I,
RS
Yeah.
HH
- started, I, I got married in '49.
RS
That makes more sense. laugh
HH
Yeah, but I went, that was when I met Mary, she's, uh, she got a job working, at, Edmonds School, and she ended up, actually, working as secretary at Second Street School. Uh...later on. She...left Edmonds. And um...she got, a secretary's job at...Second Street School.
RS
Okay.
HH
Yeah. So.
RS
And uh...you, you gave some general information about what her and her family's experience was, was at Greenwood and, and staying for a while, um...could you maybe give a little bit more...um, detail, or...whatever you do...remember about what she told you, um...or perhaps it was just more, uh, general stuff that she did tell you?
HH
It was just general, it wasn't really, yeah. Just, um, they moved to Greenwood, and her parents, decided to stay there.
RS
Okay.
HH
When, she, I guess, I don't know where she met Kaz. Um, got married, but, she lives in North Burnaby. Anyway, and uh. And that's where she lived, when I met her, you know, she was, married and living in Burnaby, but her parents were still living in Greenwood.
RS
Okay.
HH
And uh, yeah. So. And that's really all I know about her, uh...she just said it was tough. You know? I don't really think she wanted to go into any great details.
RS
Right.
HH
Because, uh. Yeah.
RS
So was that the first time that you, you learned about...what had been happening, uh, to anyone who was of Japanese descent?
HH
No, I knew that they were all interred somewhere, and they started out at Exhibition Park in Vancouver. And then they were broken up into groups and sent into various areas in, BC.
RS
Okay.
HH
And that's about all I ever knew. You know, that, uh. And thought at the time that was disgusting, but sigh. How would it, they weren't going to listen to a...a kid. both laugh And there was lots of us kids felt the same way because, we weren't racial. You know?
RS
Mhm.
HH
And, we had no, no need to be racial. Um...and I guess, we weren't brought up that way. Except for laughing my mother, if you didn't come from the right part of Scotland, right both laugh. Yeah, it's always a good joke. both laugh Yeah. Uh, yeah, so.
RS
So was there anything, new that you had learned from Mary? When she was telling you about what happened to her family?
HH
Ah, no, not really.
RS
No?
HH
No, no. She...yeah, her, just...how hard it was, for them, you know, but. But she was young. And it didn't bother HER. Because, uh, they just moved. Because she was very young. Um...she's a lot younger than I am, so...she would be very young when she, got to Greenwood, she might have just, even been BORN there.
RS
Right.
HH
You know? So, um. She, that's where she grew up for a long time. Until she moved back to Burnaby, but. Um...no. We never really talked a heck of a lot about our past. Uh, we were always too, busy going forward. You know? And uh...we're nattering about...too much teacher's work and too much both laugh. You know? Too many darn kids at school laughs.
RS
Right.
HH
Yeah, stuff like that, so. So. No, we uh, we were always just out for a good time, really. Yeah.
00:45:05.000
00:45:05.000
RS
Do you, do you remember at all when um...the Mulroney government, uh, gave the, apology, to Japanese Canadians, the Redress, and also, um, the reparations? Do you remember that time at all?
HH
Oh.
RS
I think it was about 1988?
HH
Oh, could have been vague, vague, I remember them doing it, but I don't remember anything about it.
RS
Okay.
HH
Yeah.
RS
Do you remember having a, an opinion or other people around you having an opinion about it at the time?
HH
No, not really.
RS
Okay.
HH
I don't, uh. pause We probably all thought it was too damn late but, you know?
RS
Mhm.
HH
Yeah.
RS
And why do you, why do you think that? Or why would you,
HH
Well, because I thought what they did to them in the first place was wrong. You know? But then...I, wasn't in government, we were just ordinary people. That - and THEY were just ordinary people. And, we thought they were treated badly. And uh...you know, sort of the same thing as the um...um...laugh I can't say that, oddly...Indians, I, I, no, Aboriginals.
RS
Okay.
HH
You know. A lot of them think they were treated very badly too. And they were.
RS
Mhm.
HH
But. Um...the Japanese...uh...got over that. pause You know, they, they're. Yes, you hear them on the radio sometimes, they come on, they're still talking about...how badly, treated they were. And they WERE. But they've kind of risen ABOVE it, to get on with their life. You know? I, I don't know whether it's a generation thing or not, but. It seems to me that um...uh...Mary, for instance, she doesn't hold any, uh, animosity. And she could. But, she doesn't. So. Um...you know, bad things happen. And I think it's up to the, government. To apologize. But sometimes they, they wait. Uh, a little too long. You know?
RS
Mhm.
HH
Wait a bit too long.
RS
Mhm.
HH
It's like they're doing with the Aboriginals now. You know. But uh...I think the Aboriginals too...um, yeah.
RS
Hm.
HH
Anyway, uh.
RS
Yeah.
HH
But I thought the, Japanese. Yeah, have kind of put all that behind them. And there are some generations that don't even know anything that happened. They don't, because their parents didn't talk about it.
RS
Hm.
HH
They just, it was happened. Put it out of your mind and get on with your life. You know?
RS
And when did you start to notice that uh...generational gap , was that, talking to Mary, or was that talking to other friends, that you, had noticed that...there was a gap in, in sort of, history I guess, knowledge of history?
HH
Yeah, there is, um. Well, it's always been there. Um. Uh...my parents didn't talk to me very much about, their, their life in Scotland, or. How...it was years before I knew my father worked in the mines and how bad it was.
RS
Hm.
HH
It was years, he never talked about it. So. I guess it's...and we didn't talk, we didn't talk to our kids about, not having any money when we first got married, and...you know we didn't, have very much, et cetera. The kids...the kids, as long as the food was on the table and they, they got their clothes, they didn't care.
RS
Mhm.
HH
And they got, they got to go to their, music lessons and stuff like that? Didn't both- they don't CARE. They're, sometimes they're not interested in, what happened...um, years ago. You know?
RS
Mhm.
HH
They really, uh, it's. It, that's the generation gap. And, and it's very true because our kids, are the same. Uh, yeah, we can joke about things that maybe happened. But they really don't ask us clears throat how was it when you first got married, or how was it when you were a kid? They never ask us anything like that. Because they honestly don't, care!
RS
And did you ever care to tell them? Even if they didn't ask?
HH
You don't want to do that, you'll see the look on their face as soon as you start! both laugh “O-oh, here we go again!” You know? laughs Yeah. It's, it's, um...I just, just one of those things that, things happen, and. It's a shame in a sense. But, uh. Because there's lots of things I can think now, that I would have liked to have known about my parents. But, they weren't interested in talking about it, when I was interested. And uh, then sometimes they didn't want to talk about it.
RS
Hm.
HH
So. It's just one of those things you've got to put up with, I guess.
RS
Right.
00:50:02.000
00:50:02.000
HH
Is. The lack of, communication between generations.
RS
Hm.
HH
You know? Yeah.
RS
And with um...with the, a project like this, um...where we're putting the effort into learning about the history,
HH
Yes.
RS
-um, from all different areas, of, of BC,
HH
Yeah.
RS
Um...you know, what would you...what would you say...to somebody who's, who's learning about the history, or, even to future Canadians who might come across the sorts of, uh, information? That we'll be passing on?
HH
Yeah.
RS
You know, what is your opinion, of, of that?
HH
Well I think it's very good. I, I think it's perfect, because. It SHOULD be recorded. And it, it's too bad, that it's just being done now. Like, instead of, YEARS ago, when maybe our memories were better?
RS
Mhm.
HH
Um...and...um, but I know these things don't happen that way, but uh. I, I think it's good because there's lot of things that um...like, you can pick up lots of books on Scotland. And, it goes back, way back to the Robbie Burns times, and, um...stuff like that, so. And you're amazed. At, what a, bloody, bath that Scotland was for years. And...you know. But, that's HISTORY. And, like I...I, I have Campbell in my name, well Campbell you really don't want to have in your name if you're a Scot, because, they sold their country down the river. And, uh, you know, they killed all the Macdonalds? laugh
RS
Mhm.
HH
And, but. And I'm not proud of that, but I had nothing to do with it!
RS
Mhm.
HH
And, just because I came from there, and I happen to have, be a Campbell, somewhere along the line, um...doesn't make me be responsible for that. But I feel badly about it, but. At my age now, I can JOKE about the fact that I'm a Campbell. pause You know, and say, oh yeah well. You know, we sold our country, what the heck, you know. That was years ago. I can joke about it. But I didn't used to, I was very embarrassed about it when I was, youth. In fact, I wouldn't tell anybody that was my middle name!
RS
Hm.
HH
Because I was embarrassed. Um...because when you're a youngster and going to school, you want to be the same as everybody else. And I wasn't. I had red hair, curl- ringlets and FRECKLES. And, laughs everybody else had, blonde or brunette hair cut, you know, like this, and. And, uh, they were born HERE, which I WASN'T, and THAT rankled me...um... I just wanted to be like everybody else.
RS
Hmm.
HH
And, uh, you know. Uh...now I'm quite proud of the fact, but. Took a lot of years.
RS
Hmm.
HH
To get to that point. But I never had any, racial problems, growing up. With, different colours.
RS
Hm.
HH
Yeah. pause So.
RS
Okay.
HH
Yeah. Yeah and sorry I can't- I, I haven't got, uh, a great memory of the Japanese. Only that, one family or two families that I, ever encountered. You know.
RS
I think it says something though, when it's, it sticks with you. Right. You remember it being something odd,
HH
Yes.
RS
And you remember wondering about it.
HH
Yeah.
RS
And now...you know, we're very lucky later in time that we can ask somebody about it who, who saw it.
HH
Yeah.
RS
Um...but it, I do think that that says something, and also that. Um...a lot of people didn't really, understand what was going on, until MANY years later.
HH
Oh, many. We didn't understand. And, and. And as a youngster too, you don't ask too many questions because you're told, it's none of your business.
RS
Mhm.
HH
You know? When you're, you're eight or nine years old or something, you know, “Why is this happening, Mom?” You don't need to know about it, you know. Sort of idea, that. We'd be put off.
RS
Mhm.
HH
So. We weren't TOLD a lot of stuff. And...and maybe because. Maybe because the adults didn't know, either. You know? There's THAT possibility. That our parents didn't know what was happening.
RS
Mhm.
HH
Uh, really, because everything was done hush-hush.
RS
Mhm.
HH
It was during the war and you didn't talk about, stuff.
RS
Hmm.
HH
You were told, you know, so. Yeah.
RS
There's uh...before we uh...sort of wrap up here,
HH
Mhm?
RS
Uh, there's one more, question that I've, um, forgotten to ask, that I, that I noted down while you were speaking. Was um...you know with, knowledge of Lulu Island being right there, and, and the village being there, did you ever learn what happened to, uh, that area, especially because there were so many fishermen there.
HH
Oh, yeah.
RS
Or even what happened with, with the boats there?
HH
With - oh, the boats,
RS
The boats, or even just the area, because it's...
HH
Well, all of the, the Japanese that were uh, down there, with their boats,
00:55:01.000
00:55:01.000
RS
Mhm.
HH
Their boats were confiscated by the government. So where they ended up - well, they were sold. To, who of ever, could afford to pay for them.
RS
Right.
HH
And, uh. So where they ended up, who knows.
RS
Okay.
HH
You know? And, but all of those Japanese down there were interred.
RS
Mhm.
HH
And um...uh...then, whoever took over I guess from, uh...who bought their little houses, or probably didn't even have to buy them. Probably could just-
RS
Hm. That's what I was curious about, is if you ever noticed, you know. Who came in afterward.
HH
Um...not really. Uh, because I think. Uh, the Japanese at that point. Um...the fishing at that, by that time. Was...uh...okay for instance there, a lot of fisheries around. It was, Nelson Brothers, which was right down here. There was, and, Gilley Brothers was a towing company down here on the river. And, fisheries was Nelson's, and there was, Taw's and...uh, and oh...different fisheries all up and down here. So, they didn't need these Japanese fishermen. So when these Japanese fishermen left. Was, because their boats were confiscated, whoever got those boats would take over and do the fishing. Or use them for pleasure boats. And, something we never found out.
RS
I see.
HH
Because...oh, it was another hush-hush thing.
RS
Mhm.
HH
You know?
RS
Mhm.
HH
And, same with the houses. Uh, that were down there. I guess whoever wanted to move into them could move into them.
RS
Mhm.
HH
So, and it, seemed to be a lot of, ethnic people. Lived over on Lulu Island. A lot of ethnic people. Europeans, you know? And stuff. There was a LOT of Europeans lived over on, um, Lulu Island. And I'm not sure why. But I guess it's wherever...maybe families congregate and they attract the same...um, nationality.
RS
Perhaps a community-building type of...
HH
Yes, exactly.
RS
-natural thing.
HH
Yes, that's right, yeah. So. Yeah. So, yeah.
RS
Okay.
HH
I'm sorry I couldn't answer,
RS
No, no, no, I, I've learned a lot, and um...yeah, like I said we haven't heard, uh, too much from people about New West, so, you know. Although you have very, specific memories of, memories about, you know one person and then, later in life meeting, uh, Mary and then learning a little bit about her it's still,
HH
Yeah.
RS
You know...more than...than we sort of had before because we, we really haven't heard, uh, much from, from New Westminster.
HH
No, that's possibility, because there weren't that many here. And uh...um...you know, now you look around, and my goodness, you can get any. Any kind of nationality, you know what, they're all here! both laugh Yeah, so. Yeah.
RS
Okay. Well I -
HH
It's interesting.
RS
I um...yeah, I've, uh, sort of asked all the questions that, I was uh...curious about, but was there anything that you wanted to share that I hadn't asked, or perhaps anything that you wanted to, to say that I hadn't, given you the opportunity to say?
HH
Well, I also, wanted to say that um, well. Now, everybody knows the penitentiary area is now, housing. But that was a penitentiary at one time when I was a youngster here. And, we housed, the penitentiary, area went all the way from Columbia Street right up to 8th Avenue. Because the, the penitentiary itself, faced Columbia Street. And there was quite a number of buildings. And the gardens went right up to 8th Avenue and that's where, the inmates, worked. They didn't sit around learning how to get OUT of jail. They had to WORK. They worked in the gardens. They worked in the tailor shop. And, the kitchen. EVERYWHERE, they worked.
RS
Hmm.
HH
And, um...uh, it, interesting I had a friend, that was a tailor, and he taught tailoring in, the penitentiary. And um...he said, lots of times, they would, get released? And they'd do something to get back in again because, that was their home. And it was during, say during the thirties when it was...there was no food. You know? And there was no jobs. So these people had a place to live, it was their home.
RS
Yeah.
HH
And he said lots of times they would, just, do something silly just to get caught and get back in again. And spend some more time. Because they got, three meals a day. They got a job. And, so now this penitentiary. Is um...uh...now got, housing there, and. The, the only thing they've kept is the...castle, restaurant, which was the, um...it was one of the buildings of the penitentiary. And they've kept that, but now it's the castle. Restaurant.
RS
Okay.
HH
In there, and, there's one other building where they have, um. Rehab. Um...phys, physiotherapy.
RS
Okay.
HH
Yeah. But otherwise, everything is condominiums and uh...housing.
RS
Mhm.
HH
Through the whole estate. And yet I can remember SO well. That penitentiary. And how big and ugly it was. Right, and, and also the people, that worked there. Uh, LIVED on the grounds. Of the penitentiary. There was, ah, six, about half a dozen houses or eight houses that, ran up one side, over, Sapperton area, end of, the, the building. And those were the houses that um, the administrators lived in.
RS
Okay.
HH
They lived right there. I know, a couple of the kids that went, were, lived there, went to school, with us. And um...but you know, that's something else that a lot of people don't under, don't even KNOW. The penitentiary, ever EXISTED here.
RS
Hmm.
HH
Because, it's now, all housing. And it, was too bad because it was...it was, and, also Woodlands. Um, mental, uh, hospital. It's now all condos. And that was, uh, right at uh...McBride and, Columbia Street. Going from the up, McBride up to the uh...where Queen's Park Hospital is. That's on, on the grounds of, that was the um...they called it Number Nine because that was their phone number, number nine. And, it was Woodlands, uh. Uh, for children. Woodlands. Where mentally challenged children went.
RS
Okay.
HH
So, uh, see a lot of people don't know that either.
RS
Yeah. Sounds like there have been a lot of changes in, in New West that you have witnessed.
HH
Oh, there has, I mean, just that WHOLE, quay area down there, is JUST. When I think back about what it was like when I was young? It was, it was just INDUSTRY. And, big ships coming in all the time. Yeah. Yeah.
RS
Hmm.
HH
And all the, the - mo-, the beehives that were around. laughs We grew up with beehives, yeah, right.
RS
Hmm.
HH
Yeah. But, hey, it was work.
RS
Mhm.
HH
Yeah.
RS
Hm. Okay, well...shall we leave it there, or?
HH
Yeah, sounds. Sounds fine, yeah.
RS
Okay. Thank you so much for, you know, answering all of my,
HH
Oh!
RS
My questions, and. And giving us some perspective and context for...the, the very few stories that we hear from New West.
HH
Yes.
RS
Appreciate it.
HH
Gosh, I. Yeah. There are probably people around that have, a lot more stories too. You know.
RS
Okay. Well, if you think of anyone, you can always let me know.
HH
Trouble is, you don't meet too many, at my age either, and it'd have to be my age.
RS
laughs That's true.
HH
You know. Right? laughs
RS
Yeah both laugh.
HH
You can't be younger and have a lot. And, well, you can, but. If you want the history, WAY back. You've got to be in your nineties.
RS
Mhm. Mhm.
HH
You know. To have, uh. Uh, good memories. Of um, yeah.
RS
Hmm.
01:03:23.000

Metadata

Title

Helen Hughan, interviewed by Rebeca Salas, 07 August 2017

Abstract

Helen describes what it was like growing up in New Westminster in the 1930s and 1940s, as part of a working-class Scottish immigrant family, including living through the war. She relates a very few stories about connections with Japanese Canadian and other racialized people in New Westminster, including a Japanese Canadian taxi driver who lived down the street from them and who vanished along with his family right after Pearl Harbor. She tells how ordinary people like herself and her family at the time often didn’t know or understand what was going on, or discuss it, but her generation of young people felt it was wrong what happened to Japanese Canadians. There was little interaction between whites and the small number of non-whites in New Westminster at the time, though Helen mentions knowing that many Japanese Canadian fishermen lived on Lulu Island.

Credits

Interviewer: Rebeca Salas
Interviewee: Helen Hughan
Transcriber: Carolyn Nakagawa
XML Encoder: Stewart Arneil
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: New Westminster, BC
Keywords: New Westminster ; shipyards; bystander; witness; fishing; boats; primarily 1930s-1940s; also 1960s-present

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.