Tom Hutton, interviewed by Carolyn Nakagawa, 13 April 2018

Tom Hutton, interviewed by Carolyn Nakagawa, 13 April 2018

Abstract
Tom Hutton was raised in Cumberland, BC. In this interview, he talks about his parent’s relationships with Japanese Canadians before their uprooting and the effects afterwards. Tom explains that his grandfather had the contract for timber for the mines, employing many Japanese-Canadian workers, and how his father and mother had many friends within the Japanese-Canadian community. He recalls the lady barber in No. 5 Japan Town, other strong business, many mining and logging workers, and discusses how Japanese Canadians had a strong position in contributing to the formation of Cumberland, especially in sports. Tom recalls how the school population dropped by one-third when Japanese Canadians left, and how people took over houses in No. 5 Japan Town and Comox Lake. He discusses how his father was not happy about how it was handled, and in particular a distrust and anger towards Matt Brown, the man who represented the federal government in Cumberland and who also owned a grocery store. Tom speaks about his mother and her generation talking about different Japanese Canadians they were friends with, and about people who went to visit them later in life, going to Toronto and other areas, to keep up their strong friendships. Tom discusses the US policy on petroleum and the economic threat Japan represented as being a reason behind the war and their treatment. He narrates meeting a Japanese-Canadian classmate while at UBC whose parents owned a mill on the way from Royston, and how the classmate felt upset that they got very little when the government sold it. Towards the end of the interview, he talks about meeting Harry Aoki.
00:00:00.000
Carolyn Nakagawa (CN)
This is Carolyn Nakagawa, I'm here with Tom Hutton in Nanaimo. It's April 13, 2018. And we're here to record Tom's oral history for the Landscapes of Injustice project. So Tom, can I just start off by asking you how you became aware of the Japanese Canadian community in Cumberland, where you grew up?
Tom Hutton (TH)
Mainly through discussions of my parents. And I have vague, vague memories of the families in the houses. But they're very vague. So, mainly through family discussion. I don't recall any Japanese coming to the house, but they may have. Because some of them were friends with my dad.
CN
So what would your dad share with you about Japanese Canadians who lived in Cumberland?
TH
Most of the sharing was you know me overhearing him talking to brothers and relatives. And it would be difficult discussions of stuff that happened at work or at play. They'd play baseball. So that's the source of my observations.
CN
And what kind of work did your father and brothers do?
TH
My grandfather had the contract for timber for the mines. All mines have timbers that hold the ceiling up. And he had the contract for that. And he also had a mill. So he hired Japanese and Chinese, and also Caucasians as part of the process. And my dad quit school in grade eight and starting driving a wagon, a horse and buggy wagon, to haul logs out. So that was the work. It was logging basically, but different than high-lead logging (?). You know, when you're yarding the great big trees. These were not-A lot of them were like this.
CN
That's a diameter of about-
TH
Six to eight inches.
CN
Six to eight inches, okay.
TH
And they would use those to prop up ceilings. Then there was also wood they called cog wood (?), that they would cut out of alders. Alder trees. And they'd split them into you know wedge shaped pieces about four feet long. And then what they would do down in the mine is they would cross-hatch them, like this, and then they would fill the inside with rock, weight rock. It was not coal. To hold up the ceiling.
CN
Oh, I see.
TH
Because there was a lot of movement. You're basically taking the stuff out from underneath it, right? So yeah, that's where it was. Through logging.
CN
So do you remember any particular people that you heard about that your family was particularly close with?
TH
Not from my dad. I don't remember any of the names that were mentioned. I know my mom also had classmates that were Japanese.
CN
And did she share stories about them?
TH
Yeah, yeah. She was in a couple of musicals. And there were Japanese kids in the musicals, at Cumberland High School.
CN
Do you remember any stories that she would share, that others in your family would share, about funny things that would happen?
TH
No, I don't. I don't. I do not.
CN
Nothing about their day-to-day routines with Japanese Canadians. ███████
00:05:44.000
00:05:44.000
CN
And so can you tell me-the Cumberland that you remember growing up with as a child, sort of your earliest memories-when does that date to? Do you remember Cumberland during the war years?
TH
Yeah, well I was born in '38 and I went to school until I went away to university in '56. So that was the Cumberland that I knew. So they were only there for four years, which I have very little memory, so. And I just knew about the No. 1 Jap Town, No. 5 Jap Town. Which we didn't go and look at.
CN
Oh, I saw it after you left.
TH
Did ya?
CN
Yeah, I went there afterwards.
TH
Oh, good. How did you get down there?
CN
Didn't we drive past there?
TH
We went to No. 1.
CN
Yeah, but didn't we drive through No. 5 just a little?
TH
We went by it.
CN
You pointed-yeah.
TH
We didn't see very-the other one was-when we came back from Courtenay, we should have come over to Royston, and then up through the Royston Cumberland Road-
CN
I did see Minto.
TH
And by the mill.
CN
Yeah, I did see the Royston Mill.
TH
You see the area, but you know, there's nothing to see really. So Cumberland has a lot of stuff that is, you know, still the same. But there were, as I surmised, there was quite a few Japanese merchants. And my uncle and a lot of other people-there was a Japanese barber in No. 5 Jap Town-and a lot of people went to her, because she was really good. And this one guy said that he used to go there because she had lots of funny books, and in those days, funny books were the iPad's of today, right? Both laugh. You look down off your-“hey reading that funny book!” Anyhow, she was pretty good apparently.
CN
Do you have any memory of the time when Japanese Canadians were forced to leave? You would have been quite young, but...
TH
Very, very sketch. Not hardly at all. Only my parent's comments.
CN
And what kind of comments would they make about that?
TH
Well, they were really sad with how they were treated. Or they basically came home from school, they had their clothes on their back, and a bag. And away they went. And they were loading them onto trucks, I believe. And I don't know if they went by train or by boat over to Vancouver. Yeah, it was pretty brutal. I know my mom and dad are not happy about it because they had lots of friends. And they were good citizens, I mean. From what I understand. You know, hard working and not much in the way of crime, and stuff like that. As opposed to some others.
CN
So were there any particular families that your parents would have said goodbye to, or had seen actually leave?
TH
Say that one again?
CN
Were there any particular people-Japanese Canadians-or families that your parents would have made a point of saying goodbye to? Or that they would have seen off?
TH
I don't recall them saying that. But I would imagine there were. Because my mom had friends in her class, in school. Mind you she graduated high school in '32, '33, I guess. So she would have been gone by that time, you know, out of school. But nevertheless, they went to school together. They knew-I heard their generation talked a lot about different ones that they were friends with. And a lot of them kept track, like, Joe did with that guy. And other people. Saying “Oh I went to see George in Toronto,” you know, stuff like that. So there were permanent friendships formed.
CN
Do you have any examples of friendships that you heard of in your family?
TH
You know, I don't. No. I just remember my dad talking about some of the guys that worked for my grandfather. Most of them he liked. And this one guy he didn't, and I didn't get any-no details about the conflict. But it was an argument of, you know how guys argue politics, and stuff like that probably. That sort of thing.
CN
So they actually did talk back and forth there? There was a discourse going on?
TH
Yeah. Oh, between the Japanese guys who were working? Oh yeah. Yeah, they'd be discussing probably the US policy on petroleum, which was a big issue. Which is what led to mainly that part of the war. Mind you, it's hard to-two parts of the world all of a sudden are at war, in a war. Crazy. Although we're headed that way again, it looks like doesn't it.
00:10:46.000
00:10:46.000
CN
So back to the Cumberland that you remember as a child. Those Japan Towns that didn't have Japanese people anymore by the time you remember. What were they like, when you remembered them?
TH
Well as I remember them, as a, when I was about nine or ten, we used to ride out to Comox Lake in the summer. Every day. And swam. I remember them as being, you know the houses were nice, and the yards were quite nice. And I guess the people who took them over kept them up, to a certain extent. But they were alive with people who got them, I'm not sure how they got them whether they had to buy them or rent them or whatever. But my dad was never happy with the way it was done. But the buildings themselves were always quite nicely done, and the yards neat and whatnot.
CN
That's out in Comox Lake?
TH
The Comox Lake and No. 5 Jap Town. Which was the bigger one that I remember.
CN
What about No. 1?
TH
It doesn't stand out as being anywhere near as big as No. 5 was. But it was there. And we used to ride right through it, on our bikes.
CN
And people lived there?
TH
Other people lived there. Moved in. Took 'em over.
CN
Was it, were they known as a particular kind of neighbourhood, with a certain kind of people in them? Or was it just generally part of Cumberland?
TH
It tended to be those from the lower economic strata. Yeah. For sure. The west end of Cumberland was tough. It was a tough part of town.
CN
Was it a place that you would avoid, or just like any other place in town?
TH
I guess in some ways. Although, we had our gang, too. Laughs. They did, they had gangs! They had West Cumberland, and Town Side. And it was at Courtenay Road. And what they did at the time was-The railways were ten out about 1952 or so, and so we used to get the railway ties and then you'd build them up like this.
CN
Like crosswise?
TH
And fill them with, you know-
CN
Stacking them crosswise?
TH
Yeah, crosswise, yeah you know. And two like this, two like that. And then we'd fill them up with tires, and wood, and stuff like that. ███████ And I can remember guys wearing heavy raincoats and whatnot, just so they wouldn't hurt when they got shot. But there were no, you know, obviously there were no Japanese people there, they were sent away. It would have been interesting to see the evolution of the town had they been able to stay. Because they were very vigorous and organized people from what I see. Or heard, I guess I could say. And also looking at the pictures and stuff like that. They always had nice and neat homes and gardens. As opposed to others. So I don't have anything specific there. I'm a young guy.
CN
Laughs. Yeah, you are. Tom laughs. I'm wondering if you remember how you first learned what happened to the Japanese Canadians in Cumberland. How did that story piece together for you?
TH
Around the dinner table, it would be. Mainly.
CN
Yeah? And how was it be told to you by your family?
TH
Well nobody ever really, from what I remember, said, “Well, here's what happened.” You know, to me. I was an only child, so it was the only when they got the whole group around. I just remember hearing them talk to one-another. And also family gatherings. We had big families, and so there was a lot of family gatherings. We were probably better off than a lot. My grandfather had a lot of money and contracts and stuff like that. But he didn't leave any behind for his grandsons. He drank it away and went to New York with guys from Vancouver and, ah. I've never heard him talk about it but he was a tough guy. But he, you know, he probably respected them because they were hard workers and organized people. But yeah, there was some Chinese and some Japanese. Anyway. He might have had a total of twenty people working for him, plus three or four of his sons. And my dad and his brothers took over the contract for the mine, and they had what was called a Brothers Logging (?), and then in 1958 the mines closed. The last one closed. And they had to go and get another job.
00:16:14.000
00:16:14.000
CN
When were you aware of the fact that the government had forced Japanese Canadians to leave? When did you learn that? Do you remember?
TH
The issue of the government doing it and the politics behind it would be much later. In my high school years, probably. You know, I just turned and talked about these people having gone away. And later on I had two or three instances of which it came up, one while I was in grad studies at UBC. This Japanese guy, his mom and dad owned the sawmill in Royston. And he heard me talking about Cumberland, and he said, “You grew up in Cumberland?” And I said, “Yeah, I did.” And then he said that his mom and dad had owned the sawmill, which is pretty big. It was a big operation. They had a lot of timber and whatnot. As I found out later. And he said they got nothing. So you know, my realization of the politics of the situation came later. Nobody ever talked about it at school, that I remember. Like teachers. And Henry Watson (?), who was the principal and also a pretty good social studies teacher, he was more interested in getting good government exam results. So he wouldn't bring up issues like that. It would have been a great issue to bring up, you know, so much, you could teach people so much stuff by discussing, you know, the injustice of doing this and differences between cultures and that sort of thing. But he was more or less interested-he trained us to write the government exam. You know, “If you study these four topics, three will be on the exam.” You know, for their essays. But yeah. What was the question again?
CN
It was when you became aware of the government involvement-
TH
Yeah, it wouldn't be until probably high school.
CN
Right, right.
TH
I think.
CN
Yeah. And that sawmill that you mentioned, you met the son of the family that owned the sawmill?
TH
Yeah.
CN
Do you remember that sawmill in Cumberland, growing up?
TH
Yeah, I remember driving by it. It was on the way to Royston. We had a cabin, a beach cabin at Gartley Beach (?), where my mom and dad eventually built a house and lived. And we'd go by it, all the time. Yeah, it was pretty big. And probably within competition with my grandfather. Maybe he's one of the ones that got rid of them. Laughs. He was an awful guy.
CN
So, does knowing that background that used to be owned by Japanese Canadians, does that change your understanding of the sawmill or the area?
TH
I guess, to a certain extent. But I can't really believe I sat down and said, you know. I just knew that it used to be owned by Japanese and it was very successful, and then all of a sudden it stopped. But you know, growing up, most kids are not that astute at all the nuances of cultural interactions and stuff like that. I know that in Cumberland there was, probably be a heck of a good PhD thesis to look at the sociology of a place like Cumberland, because you had the Brits-the Englishmen, Scottish and Welsh, and a few Irish-and the Italians, Yugoslavs, and Chinese, mainly. The Japanese were gone. For us. But it's interesting how as we evolve, how everybody all became suddenly became one. Like Joe and his friends. I mean, most of his friends are not Italians. This group I'm going up the lake with, they're a real mix of guys. Yeah it would be interesting the see the evolution of that.
00:20:35.000
00:20:35.000
CN
I'm interested-yeah, I wanted to ask you about the group that you go up the lake with. You said it's called the Old Boys Club?
TH
Yes, they're called the Up The Lake Club. Actually I call them the Cumberland Old Boys, but they call themselves the Up The Lake Club. Yeah. What about them?
CN
How'd you get involved in them?
TH
Actually, they're almost like the clan, eh-the Klu Klux Klan-in that they, they're very close. Like they don't articulate that much with all the people, the new people who are there that are not old Cumberland. They don't associate with them. They have this group, you know, and I was considered the be true Cumberland, I guess. And so one of the guys, Ronnie Aiken (?), who, that's one of the guys who has a nice cabin up at the lake. He was a mover and shaker in establishing this time that we spent up there. He phoned me up and wanted to know if I wanted to join them. I said no I didn't, and then Marie said, “That'd be a good thing for you to do.” So I said, “Yeah, okay.” So I went up. Yeah. They tend to do a lot of drinking when they go up there, and I'm not really a drinker. I never have been. I carry the same bottle of beer around all day. And so the group is quite diverse, in terms of culture.
CN
For example, what's the diversity of the group who make up-
TH
I'd say, it's, let me see. There's two or three Italian. Two, or three, or four of Scottish heritage. Maybe one or two of Slavic origin. We call them sometimes Yugoslav, but Bosnian, and Serbian, and... What's the other place?
CN
Croatian?
TH
Croats, and there's also the... There's another area there, a mountainous area. On the coast of the Mediterranean. Yeah, well, those guys. And, yeah. So, there's from that point of view. But they're all Caucasian, so I don't remember them ever asking a Chinese guy asked to be a part of it. They kept pretty separate. And anybody who was young, they moved away to do stuff. Jobs and things like that. There was one family, the Leung family (?), who had a grocery store in Cumberland. A good grocery store. And one in Courtenay. And actually, the one, Letters From Home (?), have you ever seen that one?
CN
No.
TH
She was a CTV person. For years. She went back to a village that her parents had come from.
CN
In China?
TH
In China. And interviewed people and that sort of thing. And Letters From Home (?), now what was her... Joy Leung (?)
may be referring to Colleen Leung and the film by the National Film Board of Canada
, I think? But yeah. I mean, Japanese weren't a factor. They weren't there. They might have been you know because they had more in common with baseball and stuff like that. Which was a cultural binder with the group, especially my dad's group because they all played baseball. And spoke really positively about the guys that they were around, as I recall.
CN
Were there any particular stories about Japanese baseball players?
TH
I don't remember a specific one. Just that some of them were really good. And championship games. They had about three or four games in Cumberland. And the Japanese had their separate team.
CN
Okay, so they'd have their own team. The Japanese and then-
TH
And then there were probably some teams where they had some Japanese people on, too. I would think. Because, you know, about that time people started to, you know, see people as the world, I guess.
CN
And are there any stories that come up about this history when you are with the Old Boys? Do they talk about the Japanese at all?
00:25:22.000
00:25:22.000
TH
Not much. I mean, I probably might get something going myself, just to see what they've got to say. When Joe's there, and Ronnie Aiken (?), and there's a couple of other guys. One guy died not too long ago, so he's gone. But they knew, you know, better than I. They knew these people. So when they talk about them, I wouldn't know who they're talking about. Because I was too young.
CN
You mentioned that your dad wasn't happy with the way that this was done. The removal of Japanese Canadians.
TH
No, he wasn't. And a number of times I heard him complain about this guy, who owned the grocery store, who was the adjudicator, that's what they called him, wasn't it? Adjudicator?
CN
Adjudicator?
TH
The guy who represented the federal government. In reference to getting rid of the properties. And my dad always suspected that he was profiting from the sales, and stuff like this. And the guys in Ottawa, they wouldn't care. Just get it out. Just get it done, right? Yeah, I remember him being vehemently upset about the way it was done, and the losses there. And the way it was done. And of course, my Maureen, my cousin Maureen, her dad she said cried the day that it happened. She remembers him crying. And he was a good man, a really good man. A leader in the community. So those are the kinds of memories that I have, little fragments here and there. All over. I do remember dad many times complaining about the way it was done. And correctly said, “That son of a bitch.” Laughs.
CN
And who was this gentleman. Can you tell me more about-is it somebody you knew as well? He was a person in the community?
TH
They guy that-
CN
The adjudicator?
TH
The adjudicator? I knew who I was. He was older than me, of course. We didn't buy groceries from him. In fact I worked in a grocery store that was a competitor of his. His name was Matt Brown (?). Matt Brown's Grocery (?). Yeah, but there was no Costco then. Both laugh.
CN
So, I'm interested if you know anything about his position in the community, and how he became the adjudicator?
TH
I have no idea. He was probably connected to the Liberals at the time. I think it was the Liberals. It was Louis St. Laurent. Was that Liberals at the time?
CN
After the war, Louis St. Laurent. During the war, Mackenzie King.
TH
Oh, so it was Mackenzie King. Grumbles. Right. Well he must have had some connections of some kind, I suppose. Politically.
CN
And do you know more details about why your father suspected him?
TH
I don't know. I don't remember any specific instances, but he knew about the sawmill. Just houses, I guess. He didn't like the guy to begin with. He didn't trust him. Maybe that's why they got him, right? They knew he'd do it. And it hurt. Because a lot of people wouldn't do it, right. Those who liked the Japanese people and were friends. But I, you know, very fragmentary stuff that I have. I could make up a couple stories, really. Both laugh.
CN
Can you say more about how Mr. Brown was seen more generally in the community?
TH
The Japanese families?
CN
No, Mr. Brown.
TH
Oh, no. I think he might have been on the city council. I'm not sure. You'd have to look at the records of... But I think he may have been on there. I don't remember him being loved by many people. And I was a delivery boy for Mumford Grocery (?), so I was part of that community. And of course, after a few years of disposing of property, he closed the store and moved to Vancouver, or somewhere. Because he had lots of money.
CN
Around when did he close the store?
TH
I can't be specific, but probably '46, '47, '48, something like that.
CN
Oh, quite soon after the war.
00:30:23.000
00:30:23.000
TH
Yeah. Well he'd have it all done by then, right? Because he had like '43, '44, '45 to be selling it. And he probably gave good prices to get rid of it. And he still got his money. Or they got their money. That'd be an interesting study for somebody to do. Exactly what happened, you know, what monies were taken in and how much were they, and that sort of thing. Investigative journalism. Which we don't have that much of I don't think, in a lot of ways. So, no, I'm a poor interview. I don't have enough stuff.
CN
No. I wanted to ask you about sort of the-you're someone who's very interested in history of Cumberland, it seems like.
TH
Yeah, yeah. All these guys are, the old guys.
CN
Yeah, yeah.
TH
They're really interested in all that.
CN
So, I'm wondering, from your part of view, when you're thinking about the history of Cumberland. How do you fit Japanese Canadians into that history? What place do they have?
TH
I have a feeling that they had a very strong position in contributing to the formation of the town. From what I heard and observed. I mean, there were a number of strong businesses, and the logging. A phone goes off; the tape is paused.
CN
Sorry. So we were just talking about the history of Cumberland and the Japanese-
TH
Oh, and where the Japanese had a place. Well, they certainly did have a place, there's no question about it. And sports was a big part of the history of Cumberland. It's a very sports-minded town. I don't remember them being big into soccer, but baseball for sure. And you know, they were solid citizens. Kept really nice yards, and gardens, and stuff like that. Many of them had good businesses. So I say they had a significant role. The school population dropped by one-third. When the people were moved out. Which that was a big factor. Heck. Yeah, so I'd say that they really did have-And if you talked to the older generation, they have a lot to say about it. Like Joe, and my mom, and dad. Anybody in the 90s for sure. Would do.
CN
I'm wondering about other Japanese Canadians you've met along the way. You mentioned the fellow you went to university with, so him and possibly others. Any Japanese Canadians you've met with roots on Vancouver Island. And if you'd been able to share sense of connection to the place with them?
TH
Well there's the guy it was who's mom and dad owned the sawmill. I was in his lab on a daily basis for six or eight months. But I don't remember us having any big heavy-duty conversations about it other than the fact that, you know, he was quite bitter about the fact that the family lost everything. Which a lot of them were. And well, you know, they were well justified in being pissed off about losing all their stuff. And on the other hand, you know it was a complex thing at the time. As you probably know. The military had a big role to play in Japan during that 30s. And well, what are you going to do? They were too successful I guess, in terms of being an economic power. And the Americans don't look on other peoples competitiveness very kindly. They really don't, that's what's happening now, right. With the NAFTA and all that sort of thing.
CN
So you're saying Japan, the country, was too successful?
TH
Yeah. They were, they were really successful. I mean who make the best cars? Really! I mean, all these guys, even these Chinese guys they came over and they all buy Beemers and Audis and stuff like that. But if you read the literature to see which vehicles will last the longest and give the best safety, it's Toyotas and Hondas, and you know. Subarus and that sort of thing. I guess Hyundais are coming in there, a bit. But nothing compared to-So economically, they're very powerful. North Korea better remember that. Because they're really competitive with one another, aren't they? Yeah. China and Japan have never been that close. So, yeah, I think they were, you know, I just go from my reading of the paper and stuff like this.
00:35:58.000
00:35:58.000
CN
Yeah, yeah. Okay, so that's I think all the questions that I have. I was just thinking, if there's anything else that you'd like to share. Either about Japanese Canadians that you've heard, or people like Matt Brown (?). Anything else that you can think of that you'd like to share?
TH
I can't think of-I think about guys like Harry Aoki.
CN
Yeah? What about Harry Aoki?
TH
Well, he was a good guy. A musician, a skier, a fellow skier. Yeah, who else do I know? Can't think of anybody else, really. I mean when everybody gets moved away like that, the number of interactions are, you know, by chance there's less. Right? I mean all the Italian guys, and the Yugoslavs, they were all my best friends. And probably would have been the same with Japanese. By the time my generation came along, if nothing had happened. Because, you know, we would have all played sports together and that sort of thing.
CN
Since you mentioned Harry Aoki, can you tell me a bit about how you met him?
TH
Who? Harry Aoki? Well we came back to the island, to Nanaimo specifically in '65. And there was a group of people who had a ski chalet that they had build up on Green Mountain (?), which is 35 miles inland. In Nanaimo River Valley. And at the 44 hundred foot level, they build an A-frame lodge that slept 70 people. And Harry Aoki was one of those guys that was involved. And we all used to go up there and ski. It was like a cultural thing, right. You had to walk up half the time. It would take you an hour to an hour-and-a-half to walk up, and then you'd ski. And the skiing was, you know, rope tows. And then finally we got a lift and that sort of thing. That's what I remember him from. And then, music. He was involved in music, and dances, and stuff like that. And I think, did he have, I'm not sure. He had some connections to the biological station. Did he have a degree, do you know that?
CN
No, he didn't go to university. He worked for BC Hydro.
TH
Ah, I guess. Anyhow, he. I just recall-It was mainly from the skiing, and the music. And I was just dancing up a storm.
CN
Did you ever talk to him about this history at all?
TH
Never. Never. No, I wasn't socially involved with him. There was a guy named Jimmy Brown (?) that I mentioned. Was it Brown? Jimmy Johnson (?), yeah. I didn't really talk to him either, but my best man was talking about him on the weekend. He was a really talented guy, but he just couldn't stay away from the females. And the females seemed to like him, too. So he got into trouble. A lot. Laughs. Yeah, otherwise I don't have that much, really. If I was maybe two years older, I might have had more. Because you know when you're six you remember more stuff.
CN
Well thank you so much for taking the time to share what do remember and heard.
TH
Well thank you for asking me to do it. And I hope it's a successful project.
CN
Thank you very much.
TH
And there will be no consequences like repatriations or anything?
CN
That's not the goal of the project. No.
TH
Right, it's not the goal. Right. Yeah, well. Okay, good luck with it.
CN
Thank you.
00:40:13.000

Metadata

Title

Tom Hutton, interviewed by Carolyn Nakagawa, 13 April 2018

Abstract

Tom Hutton was raised in Cumberland, BC. In this interview, he talks about his parent’s relationships with Japanese Canadians before their uprooting and the effects afterwards. Tom explains that his grandfather had the contract for timber for the mines, employing many Japanese-Canadian workers, and how his father and mother had many friends within the Japanese-Canadian community. He recalls the lady barber in No. 5 Japan Town, other strong business, many mining and logging workers, and discusses how Japanese Canadians had a strong position in contributing to the formation of Cumberland, especially in sports. Tom recalls how the school population dropped by one-third when Japanese Canadians left, and how people took over houses in No. 5 Japan Town and Comox Lake. He discusses how his father was not happy about how it was handled, and in particular a distrust and anger towards Matt Brown, the man who represented the federal government in Cumberland and who also owned a grocery store. Tom speaks about his mother and her generation talking about different Japanese Canadians they were friends with, and about people who went to visit them later in life, going to Toronto and other areas, to keep up their strong friendships. Tom discusses the US policy on petroleum and the economic threat Japan represented as being a reason behind the war and their treatment. He narrates meeting a Japanese-Canadian classmate while at UBC whose parents owned a mill on the way from Royston, and how the classmate felt upset that they got very little when the government sold it. Towards the end of the interview, he talks about meeting Harry Aoki.

Credits

Interviewer: Carolyn Nakagawa
Interviewee: Tom Hutton
Transcriber: Jennifer Landrey
Audio Checker: Jennifer Landrey
Final Checker: Jennifer Landrey
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: Nanaimo, British Columbia
Keywords: 1930s-40s ; Cumberland ; Logging; friendship

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.