Ed and Doris Kimura, interviewed by Jordan Stanger-Ross, 04 March 2015 (1 of 2)

Ed and Doris Kimura, interviewed by Jordan Stanger-Ross, 04 March 2015 (1 of 2)

Abstract
Jordan Stanger-Ross starts talking to Ed and Doris Kimura about their memories and knowledge of a manuscript prepared by Ed’s father that is a history of property sales during WWII. Ed’s father was involved in the sales. As the interview continues, Jordan shifts to talk about Ed and Doris’ memories from growing up in BC during WWII, before and after Pearl Harbor and the evacuation of Japanese Canadians from the coast. Ed’s family were interned in Christina Lake and a community called Alpine. Doris’ family returned to Japan during the war, but she eventually returned to Canada. The interview concludes with Jordan asking Ed and Doris to reflect on what they knew about Ed’s father’s experiences.
00:00:00.000
Jordan Stanger-Ross (JS)
I'm Jordan Stanger-Ross at the University of Victoria and I'm working with Landscapes of Injustice and we're here in South Vancouver with Ed and Doris Kimura at their house on March 4, 2015. So maybe we can start with a discussion of the donation of the material, which is where our connection essentially starts. So can you talk to me about that process? How did you come to the decision to donate your father's materials to the Nikkei National Museum?
Ed Kimura (EK)
Well we discussed it you might say between our, my family members. And decided that well what are we going to do with all this material? It's really not much good to us, and our kids aren't interested in it, surely. And so that was the idea. We did think about donating it to UBC, Asian, I think it was Asian Studies. And I don't know whether we did or not.
Doris Kimura (DK)
No. My father-in-law was talking about it.
JS
Okay.
DK
Because at that time, Nikkei Place was not developed.
JS
Right.
DK
And when we were deciding, we decided Nikkei Place would be a better choice. To me it was a better choice I should say.
JS
So your father in law - and that's Kishizo Kimura (?) - was involved in these discussions about the donation of material?
DK
No, he didn't discuss it, he told me. There's a difference.
JS
So tell me about that discussion or conversation.
DK
The conversation was, he was writing something so I asked him what he was doing. And he says, “This is about during the war time.” That's all he said. And then, and uh, later on, I just grabbed it and y'know, read a few sentences. And I said, “Oh, this is interesting.” Y'know. That's all I said the first time. Second time around he said he was gonna give it to, he think, y'know, if he finished it, he said he'll give it to UBC Asian Studies.
JS
What did you notice when you started reading? Do you remember what you read that struck you?
DK
It was about the selling of the boats, fishing boats. And the way it was people from outside Vancouver area, Steveston area, they came by boat, from Skeena, or Queen Charlotte Island, or wherever and they brought it down here. He mentioned, he talked about, he wrote about that. And then he didn't say very much after that. The only thing he said and then you know, when he finished, he said “I'll give it to Asian, UBC Asian Studies.” And he left it without telling us exactly what he wanted to do with it. But I remember that conversation, so when the time came for us to decide, we decided “Oh, Nikkei Place or UBC.” So, I thought, I think UBC was a - to me it was a better choice because it was closer.
JS
So, Ed - and Doris certainly I'd want to come back to you on this question - but maybe Ed if you can reflect on, do you have a sense of who your father thought of as the audience for the memoir that he wrote...?
EK
No, I'm not sure at all. As a matter of fact when I'd talk to my dad about what he was writing about, he said, I always was under the impression that he was writing about the fishing industry. In the Fraser River. And maybe up towards Skeena too. And so I thought, well, if that's all he's writing on, hey that might be interesting. So I was totally surprised when I read the transcribed manuscript. I thought, “Good god. This is totally different from what I thought he was writing about.” Because he talked to me and says “I'm thinking about some interesting stories that might be interesting to the crowd that's going to read this manuscript.” And I thought oh ok. I just left it at that.
00:05:00.000
00:05:00.000
JS
What do you think his motives were in writing?
EK
What were his motives in writing? I think he just wanted to get it off his chest. That would be my thought, but, and uh. He knew that we did not read Japanese. Doris did, she can read Japanese, but none of us can read Japanese, so he knew that we weren't going to be able to read this manuscript.
JS
(interjects over Ed's speech) None of you children.
EK
Yea, I thought he was going to translate it into English, and when the manuscript came out and I saw it, and it was several years later actually, I thought, oh this is all in Japanese. As a matter of fact, I talked, well John Eckersly who was at that session at UBC, and I said, “You know my dad wrote all these stories about the fishing industry, and we have some photographs, old photographs to back up.” And I thought “Gee it'd be interesting to put this together in a book.” And then I found out it was all written in Japanese, and then I found out just how much it was going to cost to translate it, I said “Forget it.”
JS
At that time, you still assumed it was anecdotes with respect to
EK
That's right, about the fishing industry.
JS
But Doris, you had a sense that it also reflected Kishuzo's role, or Ed's father's role in this history?
DK
Mmhmm. I noticed that it was important. I knew it was something that he could actually write it, and have everything's, you know, papers that go with it. And this is when we came back to Vancouver. Blanche had the papers. And she brought, you went and got it.
EK
I can't remember.
DK
Because we didn't have it in Fraser Lake. It was when it was in our storage room, and then one day I looked at it, and I thought, “Oh this is not something that you just throw it in the recycle.”
JS
So this was after Ed's father had passed away.
DK
Oh, it was long after.
JS
And at that point you read the whole manuscript?
DK
No, I just read the first few pages.
JS
Oh, ok.
DK
And then I got the sense that this is important. It's not something that you want to discard. But, I thought, to me, I thought it was a responsibility, to do to give it to somebody that is more knowledgeable, with more things that they would understand better than myself.
JS
And did you think Ed's father, was his motive also to share this history?
DK
Oh yea. Yes. He just didn't know how to go. I think he didn't have the energy or the time to think clearly what he's gonna do with it. Because the only thing he mentioned way back when we were still living in Fraser and we used to come down to visit him, he mentioned UBC. But 10 years later, 15 years later, when we got it, I thought it was very important.
JS
So the materials first were with Blanche your older sister?
EK
Yea, I don't remember.
JS
Was there any discussion of the materials, of the archival materials at that - what year did your dad pass?
EK
1976.
JS
'76. During what period had he been writing it?
DK
Oh, when we got married he was writing it, so that's 66 when we got married. So he was working on it for quite a number of years before that.
JS
When you would have seen the completed manuscript, your father was still alive at that point, though?
EK
Yea, I think so.
JS
So, sometime in the late '60s, early '70s?
EK
Yea, he wouldn't be writing much in his last two years. Ed and Doris speak overtop each other
DK
No, no, he was slowing down.
EK
Dementia was starting to set in.
DK
After your Mum passed away, he started doing it.
JS
She died in?
DK
'68.
JS
'68. When he died, in '76, there were these archival materials, the ledger book, the memoir, which you had seen, which he had mentioned. Was there some discussion immediately then, what should we do with these materials?
00:10:00.000
00:10:00.000
DK
No.
EK
I'm not sure about the ledger. Did that go to Blanche too, or did we have it?
DK
Yea, it went to, I think, and then Blanche brought it over here.
EK
Oh, ok. Because she said, “I don't know what to do with it.” She was gonna go give it to UBC, but there was a stall there, so she mentioned to us and then we got it. We didn't have it in Fraser Lake. We have it here in Vancouver.
JS
And when did you move to Vancouver? Ed and Doris speak overtop each other
DK
'81.
EK
'81.
JS
So she had it five, six years?
EK
Yes.
DK
Yes, and she didn't know what to do with it. I mean.
JS
But you all knew that she had it.
DK
I didn't know she had it.
EK
I didn't know either.
DK
No, she took it because she thought it was, you know, important, but she couldn't read a thing about it, whereas when I read the first few pages, I thought this is important. We jus can't discard it, that's all.
JS
And so when you did come then, then it was almost a decade later that you donated the materials.
DK
Yea, we gave it to the early 2000's.
EK
I can't remember now.
JS
Ok, so it may have been 20 years almost that you had the materials.
DK
Yea, I think.
EK
I think we got more involved with Nikkei Place after the Lemon Creek display, and that was what year?
DK
God, I don't know. Ed and Doris and Jordan speak overtop each other
EK
It wasn't very long ago.
JS
That's not very long ago. Ok.
DK
Oh.
EK
It wasn't very long, like 5, 6 years ago.
JS
So, you had the materials for quite some time.
EK
Oh yes!
DK
Yea, yea. It was getting to a point that, shoving it this way and shoving it that way, and I don't really know what to do. You know how storage rooms are.
JS
Yea. So what were your thoughts about it while you were keeping it?
EK
Well, we wanted to respect it. I think, backing up a bit, my sister Blanche in Richmond, she's in the centre of the fishing villages of a lot of Japanese people. And so if there was going to be any reprisals form the sale of properties and so on, she'd be the first one to get it. Not me. Because I was here in Vancouver, and I was in a totally different industry. So, whereas her husband was in the boat building business. So they had very close ties with a lot of fishermen.
JS
And was there the sense that the wider community didn't know about this history at all?
DK
No, they didn't know. Not in Steveston. They didn't know.
EK
They knew what the price of the boats were, and the price of the properties.
JS
But they wouldn't have connected it with your father?
EK
Hard to say, I don't know. There was always a feeling that they did.
JS
That they did?
EK
Yea.
JS
How did you get that feeling?
EK
I got that feeling from while we were sort of restricted from getting rid of these manuscripts and the ledger, I think that's what I was looking at.
JS
Can you tell me more about that? What do you mean that you were restricted from getting rid of them?
EK
Well, my sister said, you can't give that away right now, because other people will see it and then they will start hammering at us to say, “Hey, your Dad was responsible for whatever happened. And as a result of that we're the ones who paid the price by losing our properties and losing our fishing boats and so on.” That was the impression I had. Maybe it's all wrong. But. I don't know what you think Doris?
DK
That could be true. You know. Because, well, if somebody took your house and said, “Well, move and get out,” and you get no money for it, I think you'd be angry too. Whether its a car or a boat, you know.
00:15:04.000
00:15:04.000
EK
As the older generation of Japanese fishermen went on, a lot of them have passed away, so we felt that ok, and so Blanche and Florence Dit said, “Oh yes, let's release allt the information.”
JS
Florence is your...
EK
Elder sister.
JS
Elder sister. So maybe it's useful here to, let's step back a little bit from the donation of the materials. Can you give me a sense, I'll be curious to hear about it from you Ed, and Doris I'm curious to hear it from you as well. Just a bit of a background. I was thinking, do you remember being in Vancouver before the war?
EK
Yea, yup. Just a few years.
JS
Yea, so tell me about how old when the uprootment in 1942?
EK
10.
JS
You were 10, so tell me about your memories of Vancouver before the war.
EK
Before the war, the only, my recollection was that we lived in the East End, close to the PNE grounds. So we were not in the, you might say, Powell Street area. Pretty awful. Although I did go to Kindergarten there, and Sunday School. I thought those guys were mean to me. laughs
DK
laughs.
EK
They were! But anyway, that's alright. I guess that's passed. And I went to Japanese school at the school that's still there on Alexandra street. I went there for how many years. Three years, I think. So that was my only connection with the Japanese people. The rest of the living up in East End there, all my friends were classmates, and neighbourhood people.
JS
Sure, what, you lived on McGill street, is that right?
EK
Yea.
JS
So what would have been your elementary school?
EK
Hastings School.
JS
Hastings School. So what was the mix of people at Hastings School?
EK
There were a few Japanese Canadian classmates. Two or three, that was about it.
JS
And the others?
EK
Were all Caucasian.
JS
Immigrants as well? Or were they...?
EK
I couldn't tell you. I would think that there were, but... laughs.
JS
And so would have you been, your friends been non-Japanese Canadian classmates, for the most part?
EK
Yea, classmates. Many in our neighbourhood around McGill street.
JS
And was there a sense of difference in being Japanese Canadian. Was there...?
EK
No, no, everyone seemed to be accepting me as I was, then.
JS
Do you remember the approach of the war?
EK
The approach of the war is kind of interesting. I think that was 1938. That's the European side. All I recall, I think that was in Grade One, and our teacher mentioning that there was a war breaking out. The other thing that I remember I don't know whether other people would or not, was that the newspapers used to put out Extras. And I remember the newspaper boys running around the streets out in front calling extra extra, and so Dad used to go out and buy the extra newspaper, whatever it was. And it was related to the news that a war had broken out. And of course 1942, another one came out. That's about all I recall.
JS
So, do you remember Pearl Harbour?
EK
Well, that's all I remember. I didn't know what had happened, but other than the fact that there was another war breaking out in the Pacific.
JS
And then was there a feeling as you returned to school in January or in December of 41, do you remember a sense in the class of tension around that?
EK
No, not particularly. The only thing that affected us was after the summer holiday, we weren't allowed to go back to school. So.
JS
And then your family moved in October?
EK
Well, there was a period there when special classes were set up for just the Japanese people. And that was held at the Buddhist Church now on Powell street. I don't know whether you've been down there. The church is still there. The teacher who organized it was Miss Hyodo. You probably will run into that name. Miss Hyodo. She was a teacher. A very good teacher. She coordinated the classes. And all I recall as that a lot of us were attending and as the evacuation was in progress, the classes were dwindling each, almost every week, until it just shut down.
00:20:38.000
00:20:38.000
JS
Do you remember your feelings from that time?
EK
You know, it's kind of interesting. I must admit that when I first went own to Powell Street and attended Kindergarten and Sunday School, I thought a lot of the people were mean to me, and they picked fights with me and so on. And the same thing in Japanese school. But once that special classes were set up for us, there was none of that. That's my recollection.
JS
Did you miss your old school?
EK
Yea, I would say I did, yea. It's still there as far as I know.
JS
Do you remember how your parents responded or explained to you that you'd be attending a different school?
EK
No, we were just told to go to school, and we went.
JS
Do you remember your parents reacting to the news of the war? How about you Doris? For the same period, what was going on for you?
DK
Nothing much, I was in Port Islington. Along the Skeena River, so. Nothing, we went to school, until the day we moved out. It wasn't that they shut us out. If they did that, there wouldn't be enough students there. Because the community was, the majority was Japanese. We were called Japanese then, not Japanese Canadian. But anyways, no, the only thing I remember is my Mum had to sew curtains. Black curtains. And put it on the window, so the light doesn't shine in.
EK
Used to be called blackout.
DK
And cover the doorway, so the light doesn't go through the cracks. That I remember because she was very busy making those things. And then now.
JS
How old would you have been?
DK
So, it was 1941, so I was 11.
JS
So you were in a predominantly, so most of your friends would have been Japanese Canadian?
DK
Yes.
JS
And the neighbourhood you lived in?
DK
Where we lived is mixed. My dad had a restaurant, a cafe. And so, we were more integrated into the Caucasians.
JS
I think you told me the name of the cafe once.
DK
UC Cafe.
JS
UC Cafe. And do you think, was there a sense of tension after December 41?
DK
No. We were more bewildered than tension. And the teachers were kind. And the school principal was Mr. Jones. And he told the all the students that this is not your fault. This is, he was upset. Apparently he was upset and he said this is what my older sisters told me, that at the classroom, he gathered all the older kids. Not my grade. And then he said, it's not your responsibility. You're not to be blamed.
JS
That sounds great.
DK
Yea, he was very supportive of the Japanese people. And what, you see, if we move out, the town would be gone. Because the Japanese people fishing there, they had a cannery, I think there was about 5 or 6 canneries. Phoenix and Canadian fisheries and all that. And the ladies were working in the cannery, and the husbands worked on the boat.
00:25:06.000
00:25:06.000
DK
Fishing salmon and herring, right up to the herring season. So they were busy. And the cannery was busy. It flourished. But once we left, apparently, my father sold his cafe. And two years later, the guys moved out, because there wasn't any business. The person's name was Reed.
JS
Reed. I think you told me once that your father moved, decided quickly to sell the cafe. Is that right?
DK
His friends, the Caucasian friends told him to sell it.
JS
What more do you know about that?
DK
Well, we were not the only ones, the Japanese were not the only ones that was upset. That the government said to that we have to move. And this was before my Dad was taken away. First. Because he was Japanese. And not registered as a Canadian. So anyways, before he left, they told him to sell it. Mr. Brown, and there was a Mr. Cunningham. They were the two that were sort of running the place, running the company. And they said you sell your restaurant.
JS
They ran the cannery?
DK
They were the head honchos or whatever, the bosses of the cannery. Anyway, they told him to, I didn't mention their name when I wrote my article. But they were the ones that old him to sell it. So he sold it to Mr. Reed, who was one of the people, Caucasians trails off.
JS
And your Dad's sense was that he got a good price?
DK
I think so. At that time he got to grab hold of whatever he can. You know. Because when he comes back, it's not going to be the same. And he'll begin the same.
JS
So, do you think he had the sense that he was selling it under duress in a sense?
DK
No, he felt it was a good move. Business wise. He thought it was a good move to sell it. Because the whole community is going to be lost. Yea, there were people, we used to call them Sweet Town, further up the river. There was a community called Sweet Town. But their population was small. And then there was, we used to call them Indians in those days.
EK
First Nations.
DK
First Nations people. They were not steady people. They come in and go out, come in and go out. They're not residents I would say. If it's fishing season, ok they'll come in. And then they'll take off.
JS
How long had your Dad had the business?
DK
Good grief, I don't know. Since he came to, ok. He came to Canada in 1916. I think. And I'll have to read my article on that, because those days my older sister told me all. I had to go and ask her. But anyways. So he had the restaurant in 1918.
EK
I thought you had that in your article.
DK
Yea, I have that in my article.
EK
You have a copy of that article?
JS
I don't think I do actually.
DK
It would be with Linda Reed.
JS
Ok, I'll ask Linda about that.
EK
Yea, it's about Hiroshima.
DK
It's called Hiroshima City. Disaster to Prosperity.
JS
I'll ask Linda for that.
DK
Anyways, he sold it, and he had to go away first. And then we're, he left January or February. And we left around March.
JS
And did you own a house also?
DK
Yup.
JS
And did your Dad manage to sell that also?
DK
No, no everything went to, as a the property was in the back. There was a house. So the whole property was sold to Reed.
JS
To Reed.
00:30:05.000
00:30:05.000
DK
To Reed. It was very strange that we got to Sandon. So we were in Sandon in '42, fall. They already sold it, so our personal belongings. They shipped it to us.
EK
That was nice of Mr. Reed to do that.
DK
No, I think it was the Browns and the Cunninghams that did that.
JS
Is that right?
DK
Yea, you know, our we have what you call here a shrine, a Buddhist shrine? That was there. That was the first thing I noticed. And then I noticed we had the pillow and blanket. Hudson Bay blanket. Oh geez. And all we'd gotten was a grey army blanket which was half cotton, half wool. You know. Itchy. And anyways, we got our dishes and things and pots and pans. And they shipped that all to us. And my Mum was happy. We even got a barrel of rice and flour that was left behind. And baking powder, and pickles.
EK
That's all written up in the article.
JS
Ok. Do you know whether that was unusual? Did most folks from the town also get things shipped to them?
DK
No, I don't think so.
JS
Do you know why your family would have?
DK
We were close friends. My Dad was. He's the type of person that would make friends with anybody. He, he had a knack of being sociable. And, he used to cook turkey, and about three or four at one time. And he'd take it over to them at Christmastime. You know, do things that are, you know, that are, have a good relationship. Make ato make things easy for everybody to live together. He used to help the community, to build the Buddhist church, financed it with another family. That's all in there. Wartime, when we left Port Islington, and went to Eastport to get on the train, my older sister was not there. My brother was not there. Because they were older they were segregated from us. And then later on, my other sister was gone. There was three of us. Another year later, Cathy went to Vernon, so my Mum had two.
EK
This is out of Lemon Creek. Sandon?
DK
Sandon. This is in Sandon. So as you come to an age, I don't know whether it was 18 or 16, or whatever age it was, they say well you go to Nakask. And work in the hospital as a nurse's aid. Or you go do housekeeping or whatever it was. Because there was a labour shortage.
JS
And did people say no? Could people say no?
DK
I think they were just obliged to go. I don't know whether it was a thing, but like Cathy went to Vernon, she pulled onion. She picked strawberries. She picked all the fruit berries. Tree berries. Fruit. Until she came home around end of October. Picked the apple and then came home. From the farmers.
DK
What they did is they sent two girls to go together. Denimuri and Cathy went to one farm. From there, if the farmer doesn't have any work, they go to another farmer, and then come back to their host family. And live there. Yea. So, during the war time, my brother worked at on the railway.
00:35:20.000
00:35:20.000
DK
And in the wintertime, he was told to go to Kamloops. So he worked in a restaurant. Because he doesn't get any relief funds or anything like that. He has to work. So he, worked, you know wintertime he worked. And then in the summer time they pull him back. The custodians were telling him where to go. It isn't a choice that you had. You survived by trying to do whatever you can. Otherwise you don't get paid. Otherwise you won't eat.
JS
Ed, how much did you know about your father's work before the war?
EK
Not very much at all other than the fact that he was in the exploring the salt herring.
JS
Did he travel for work?
EK
Did he travel to work?
DK
Yea.
JS
Travel for work. Did he travel to Japan?
EK
Yes he did, on several occasions. That was marketing his product. And so he went there several times as I recall.
JS
For long stretches?
EK
Yea I would say several weeks to a month.
JS
So you remember his leaving and coming back?
EK
That's about it, yea.
JS
Would he bring you stuff from those trips?
EK
Yes he did. I'm trying to think now what he did bring back. But one of the things that I recall was that we got a sort of a tour through one of the boats. It was one of the newer boats that came over. In 19 - I would guess it would be 1941. And that's about all I remember. It was at that time it would have been considered a luxury boat.
JS
Ok, a passenger boat?
EK
Yea, but all I recall was my Dad said you know this boat is configured to be reconstructed into a warship. I don't know how he, what made the difference or not. But apparently that became an aircraft carrier.
JS
A Canadian aircraft carrier?
EK
No no no no no. Japanese. The boat was called Yamata Maru.
JS
And so that was the boat he was taking.
EK
I think he just came back on it or something like that. All I know was that since he was in the fishing industry, he was invited to a dinner on the boat. And before he went to the dinner, as I recall, my mother and I can't remember who else was maybe my sister. We got a tour through the boat. That's all I remember. I don't know how I found out after we got evacuated to Alpine, what the salt herring was packaged in. It was these big wooden boxes, like crates. And the fish were salted down in those boxes. And that's the way they were shipped, to primarily I guess Japanese. I don't know where he was marketing them. Primarily Japan.
JS
Your father had worked. What was your father's history working in the industry?
EK
History?
JS
His background. The different roles he played within the export business.
EK
I really do not know.
DK
Any former organizations?
EK
You see because in addition to the salt herring, he was connected to people who were involved with salt salmon. And I don't know how that intermeshed, but one side of the office that he was in on, was it Gore Avenue?
DK
Yea.
EK
My Dad was working out that one. And an interconnecting doorway, was the salt herring - er salt salmon. And that person's name as I recall was Kashino. That's all I remember.
JS
Did your dad run the office? Did he have an employer?
00:40:03.000
00:40:03.000
EK
No, I don't think he had an employer. The only employee he had was a secretary.
JS
And he worked to organize salt herring export?
EK
Yea, primarily the marketing end.
JS
Do you know whether he had connections with people in the federal fisheries? Or government officials prior to the war?
EK
No, I don't know.
JS
Tell me about your Mum.
EK
My mum?
JS
Yea.
EK
She was of the Makino family. My grandmother and grandfather ran a hotel on Water Street. The hotel was still there, it was called Butler Rooms. I remember going down there and when mom used to go shopping downtown, we used to all go down and stay with Grandmother at their hotel there. Just for several hours I guess. What do I remember about my Mum? My Mum was a mother and a wife. And that's all I remember.
DK
Laughs
EK
She did not speak English. She tried to take English, but she finally quit.
JS
So your household, was the language Japanese that was spoken?
EK
Yup.
JS
And she...
EK
She would say the odd word. She knew when she went shopping, she would buy bread or whatever else, or vegetables. She know what the words were.
JS
Do you know how they met?
EK
No I don't.
JS
pause. Maybe you can reflect a little, we've heard a little from Doris on this front, but as we were talking we sort of left off. Maybe think about, I think you were saying you were in a separate school, a new school, and then people were leaving. When did your family leave Vancouver?
EK
We were one of the last people to leave. I think it was the 30th of October, 1942.
JS
Do you remember that day?
EK
I think all I remember was that we were leaving the house. Dad was busy over the pass several weeks prior to that, building boxes, and packaging the stuff in those boxes.
JS
Did you leave belongings behind?
EK
Yes we did. We left them with our next door neighbour. Who was a lady called Mrs. Buckley. Then in 19 - when did I come back? 1950, when I started university, I arranged to get all that material out of Mrs. Buckley basement and had it shipped to Christina Lake. Now the people who did most of the organizing were the Sakimotos. The Sakimotos were very close friends with my Dad. They had a business here in Vancouver already established. So they had trucks.
JS
For moving in October, when you moved.
EK
No, no. The material that was stored in Mrs. Buckley's basement was moved to Christina Lake in 1950.
JS
So she had not just your family's stuff, Mrs. Buckley? She had other?
EK
No, as far as I know that was all. We were just neighbours, next door neighbours.
JS
So when you talk about organizing to bring materials up to Christina Lake, had different people stored stuff with different neighbours?
EK
That's something I don't know. We had other stuff that we had already shipped to Christina Lake. Some of the furniture was shipped prior to us moving to Christina Lake. And then when we moved we also had quite a bit of stuff moved with us.
JS
What were some of the other things you brought?
EK
All I recall was that there were a few boxes that came with us. Probably one of the things that my mother was very worried about was the sewing machine. That's all I remember.
00:45:01.000
00:45:01.000
JS
She brought the sewing machine.
EK
Yea, to Christina Lake. When it arrived it was snowing. And all the ladies there were saying Oh you've got to get the sewing machine under the roof. We were staying with Alpine Inn at the time, and a couple of hefty guys just hacked it up to the room at the hotel.
JS
Can you describe the sewing machine to me?
EK
It was a Singer sewing machine. Now in Vancouver there was power. All I know was that there was a foot pedal that operated the thing. Once we moved to Christina Lake there was no power, so there was a sort of a laughs.
DK
Pedal.
EK
Pedal? It was about this big and you'd put your foot on it and that would run the machine.
JS
Did it become a communal sewing machine after you moved?
EK
No, no no no. Joran:It was your moms.
EK
Other people had sewing machines. Very much similar. Singer sewing machine was the sewing machine of the era.
DK
In those days it was all the same. Like having a Ford car, it's all Ford cars.
JS
Did you have a sense that you'd lost stuff leaving it behind? Or did you feel or was it that you were mostly able to bring what you wanted.
EK
I think we brought most of our stuff. It effectively just arrived there as far as I know. Things like beds, and other furniture, and chesterfield and so on. The chesterfield and so on were shipped in advance, and that was one of the things that was in the hotel at Alpine.
JS
Did you ever have a sense of things that were lost or stolen?
EK
The only thing that my Dad mentioned was the camera and the radio.
JS
What did he mention about those things?
EK
It was seconded by the Custodian for storage. And then it was gone. laughs. It never arrived in Christina Lake for sure.
JS
And what did he have to say about that?
EK
I don't remember. Just that we're not getting it back I guess. It's lost.
JS
I saw some documents related to that camera, and I wondered about it. It's interesting right because he worked, he had connections to the custodian, but then they lost the camera.
EK
It was taken I think laughs. I think there was a lot of things that were just pilfered. Pilfered right out of there by people.
JS
You didn't have a sense of your father's feelings about that?
EK
No. he didn't mention too much about that to us.
JS
So, would you have been aware then in Christina Lake that your Dad was able to travel back to Vancouver?
EK
Yea.
JS
Did you know why?
EK
The only thing I remember him talking about was selling the fishing boats and that was about all.
JS
What did he say about that?
EK
All I recall was that he was, he used to stay in the Patricia Hotel, and I'm not quite sure where he was working. I just assumed that he was working in his old office, but that's not true. He was not working in his old office, he had some other location that he was working at, but I never knew where. And from there he was selling off the boats I guess. And that's all we know.
JS
Did you have a sense of his feelings about it at the time?
EK
No, he never let out. One of the things that he did, was on the occasions that he came down from Vancouver to Christina Lake, coming back, he brought stuff back with him that people could use and I remember on one occasion he brought back a whole pile of running shoes. From children's size, up to adults. So there was a lot of people in the community that were wearing the same shoes. Not the same ones, but the same style.
00:50:05.000
00:50:05.000
JS
Was Christina Lake, you would have had the opportunity to think about this obviously, how did life there differ from Doris' experience?
EK
Well, one of the things was that, I learned very quickly was that these people are different from the friends I used to have in Vancouver. They were more tight knit. You had to join your group. There was about 6 of us my age, boys. We sort of stayed together. And we had our differences. As 10, 11 year olds. We had a school there, the school was one room. I guess it was two rooms, a two room school. One was for high school, one was for the elementary side. The head teacher there was Harry Shibuya. And he was fairly well educated. He was in third year medicine. I can't remember, down I think in California, taking med school, when he got evacuated. And then there was several other young ladies who were taught us in elementary school. Harry Shibuya had taught us, I was in Grade Five in the time. Through 5 6 and 7 and 8 he was my teacher.
JS
And did you have connection with the non-Japanese Canadian population in the area?
EK
Well the only connection was that Alpine itself was one community. And we were all Japanese. At the South End of the lake was a sawmill. And a lot of the people were very fortunate that they were able to get a job at the sawmill. But I think the sawmill was closed at the time and then when we arrived, I think that they reopened it. And there was two phases of it. There was the sawmill side, and then there was a logging side. And I remember that when we first went to Christina Lake, the logging was done up at the North End of the lake. We used to call it the head of the lake. And there was a big rambling hotel up there, and that's where they stayed. And hey used to come back on the weekends. On a boat.
JS
So it was a bit of a trip?
EK
The lake, Christina Lake, come to think of it we thought it was big at the time. It was only about 15 km long. And Alpine was halfway up. So the people could take a boat down to the sawmill and then up at the other end the logging end of it was done.
JS
And your dad worked for the sawmill?
EK
Yes he did.
JS
And what was his work there?
EK
Bookkeeper. He became a sort of a main foreman. Manager type of thing.
JS
And were most folks in the Japanese Canadian settlement there well to do?
EK
Yea, we were what they called self supporting. So we paid our own way. And so it was necessary that we found employment, in my opinion.
JS
Do you know how arrangement was made for housing?
EK
Well there was that big rambling hotel there. That hotel had upwards of 30 rooms. And then there was a few cabins. The Japanese people when they came there in 1942 built some small houses. I can't remember how many. I think there was 5 cabins already there. And we were able to move into number 1 cabin. But they built, I think about 5 or 6 houses. And so with people stayed in those houses. And also in the hotel.
00:55:00.000
00:55:00.000
JS
Who owned the hotel?
EK
You've got me, I don't know!
JS
So there was some other proprietor, it wasn't owned by the Japanese Canadian community?
EK
No, well, I shouldn't say that, I don't know. We used to call it Alpine community, so I just assumed that the hotel was part of the establishment.
JS
Far as you could tell in Alpine, everyone was Japanese Canadian? Everyone was people relocated?
EK
Yea, yea. The people in Christina Lake, I don't think most people there took notice of that there was any segregation or any of that. We all just sort of integrated in once we moved down to Christina Lake. To the south end in 1946 after the war. We built some houses and moved down there. I think we built about 9 houses, and continued to work at the sawmill. There was a lot of other people also working at the sawmill.
JS
Did you work there then?
EK
Yes in the summertime and the weekends.
JS
So there weren't difficulties in 46?
EK
Integrating? No. Well we moved to Alpine. And then in 19 - sorry in 1946, that's right we moved down to the south end of the lake. And then they accepted us with open arms and we all integrated together, especially because a lot of it had to do with sports. And there was a Christina Lake community centre, and we built a community hall, and that was a centre of activity. Summertime it was a resort town. I enjoyed myself at Christina Lake.
JS
Did anybody leave Alpine in 46 and return to Japan?
EK
Yes.
JS
Can you tell me about that?
EK
All I recall is that there were some older folks who went back to Japan. They were very close friends of Dad's. Mr, Mr and Mrs. Yoshida. Mr Kitta. Who else went back? There was some younger people who signed up to go back. The Ibatas. I can't remember who else. They went back. The Ibatas were a very young family. They came back.
JS
Came back to Canada.
EK
Yea.
JS
They themselves were not from Japan, or they were?
EK
I don't think so. The other people that left were pause Mr. Oda. Odasan. And Isugaisan. They went back.
JS
Did your family talk about that? Was there any thought that your Dad might want to go back?
EK
No. It was kind of interesting when the Canadian government proposed that idea of people being able to go back to Japan, or go to Japan in a lot of cases. Because some of the younger people had never been to Japan. Never going there. And there was a day of signing. You said you're going back or you're going to stay. And my Dad and there was two Kishi families there. And we all had, we were all of the same age group as children. They, some of them were older. And we decided that we, for the sake of the children, there's no sense in going back there. We did not go back. And did not sign to go back. Neither did the Kishis. Some people were very surprised, hey how come you're not on this list.
JS
By this time you're a little older. Do you remember your thoughts on this at the time?
EK
Thoughts? I don't know. I guess another big family that went back was the Hamagamis. The Hamagamis had a big family. There was 7 children. Just the eldest son and his wife did not sign to go back. There was another couple of sons who did sign to go back, and then they said at the last moment they did not want to go back. They were able to get a release on their signature and they stayed. And there was, I can't remember, but there was 9 families that moved to the south end of the lake. Several others moved back East. Mr. Shibuya and so on went to Toronto.
01:00:14.000
01:00:14.000
JS
Do you remember people being upset that their family was moving to Japan?
EK
I didn't get that feeling?
JS
What feeling did you get from them.
EK
They were leaving and that was it. We said goodbye to them. That's all I remember.
JS
Now Doris, your family did relocate back to Japan.
DK
Yea, well my father was in his 50s, and he didn't think he could start another business.
EK
Start another business.
DK
The price of things had gone up since the war. So, he decided to go back. The reason, he had assets in Japan, which made a lot of difference. And he had a house, and some garden. And you see, you can't think of Japan like the way you do in Canada. When you say property, it's a big, so many square miles or square metres of property. It's a small property. The house, the houses are cramped. But it is still a house. And then if you say garden, or you say a hill, you think or Grouse Mountain or you think, Queen Elizabeth Park, or something like that. It's a small portion that you own. You own a small portion of bamboo bush or shrub that you own. Yea. And the locations are separate, all over the place. Because, Japan is made of up volcanoes. So there's always hills and flat area, but there's always hills. And you know, mountain and things like that. And in the valley people live. And then there's trees. But anyway. So my dad owned some assets. Some of them were houses. Some of them were garden, where you grow your vegetable. It's terraced garden. If you look at ancient Japanese garden, you know what they're like. And then he had another portion of hill - they call it yama in Japanese. And anyway, then he had the oyster beds. And Hiroshima is known for their oysters. Because its built, Hiroshima is built, it's a delta. If you walk across the bridge, one bridge, you can see bridges on this side and that side. IF you go further on you have about five bridges going across the city. But if you - Linda will show you the map, you'll understand what I'm saying.
JS
Do you remember, you would have been 15?
DK
Yea, 16.
JS
16. Do you remember a discussion in your family about moving to Japan, or the signatures required?
DK
No, there was no. We just went along. You know by the time you're in internment camp, you don't have an argument. You're, you're pause your freedom is shunned to a point that even in the square room that you're living in, you don't talk out loud. You don't fight. Because then your neighbours will hear you. You don't have an argument. You live in the place.
EK
It's a cell really.
DK
It's like a cell really. Like a jail cell. Maybe a jail cell has too much noise really. You don't argue with people. Sometime there is an argument. But.
EK
Everybody will hear you!
DK
Everybody will hear you and then they'll criticize you! So you're closeted in that place and then when your parents say we're going to Japan, my oldest sister was married so she stayed. And my brother said no I'm not going back because I don't read or write Japanese, so he says, I'd rather stay in Canada. But the rest of us, the four of us, we went to Japan. Sumi didn't. The oldest one didn't like it. Sumi didn't like Japan.
01:05:32.000
01:05:32.000
DK
So she worked for export import company. And they paid her in US dollars. Because by the time they exchange it to the yen, it costs money, so he said I'm gonna pay you and you worry about your exchange. And so she saved enough to come back. But the rest of us we relied on her. Or we helped each other to come back. But I went to school.
JS
How did you feel about moving to Japan?
DK
Well, you don't know what Japan is like. So you don't know how to feel until you get there. You know. You know. But one thing I noticed that they criticize about, is the way i walk. I walk with my shoe. They walk with the sandals, so they pigeon-toed. If they walk like me, they lose the sandal. Have you ever tried that? Your sandals will slip off. So they walk pigeon toed and they walk smaller steps. You don't stride when you walk. They walk in smaller. So that's one thing they noticed that, I'm different. But the school I attended was a private school, so kids were more acceptable.
JS
Were there many other Japanese Canadians or Japanese Americans, or others who were around?
DK
Mmhmm. There were six of us. So we stuck together laughs. The first years, the first year we stuck together.
JS
Did you know each other prior to?
DK
No.
JS
No.
DK
Oh yes, I did, I knew Saatchi, the one I corresponded with. Jordan and Doris speak together
JS
Who lives still now in Japan?
DK
Who lives in Japan.
JS
Hiroshima?
DK
Yea, no she lives in another city. But, yea, she stuck to. There's three Japanese Canadians that are stuck in Japan, and I really feel sorry for them laughs. Freedom.
JS
What do you mean?
DK
Well, you have to act a certain way. You know. Politeness is right, but if you, the way you talk, the way you act is very strict. Girls are very especially. Boys aren't. They can do whatever they want to. But girls you have to be very structured. You know. The way you dress and everything counts. Thankfully, I wore a uniform laughs. The four years I went to school, I had a school uniform, and even if I had come home from school on weekends, I still had to wear my uniform. So they can ID you.
JS
And language, how was your language?
DK
First year, I rarely spoke, because they have their own dialect. And it's quite different from the way my parents used to talk, and taught us, to speak Japanese. I could get by with it in school and things like that. But my problem was learning Japanese, how to write. Because I was not in a Grade Eight class in Japanese. I could have been about three or four. So, going on a train, I'm going like this pause. Writing, and then think, oh yea. Ed coughs and blocks what Doris says. So I memorize all these characters. but it's difficult. Four years behind. It's very difficult to grasp it. Math was fine. You know. Science is fine. Because they put in English words in Japanese accent. And you can understand what they're saying. The language is ok. But it's reading and writing that's difficult. Because it's always a catchup. And you know, I still would like to write. If I haven't gotten anything to do with my hand its gonna go like this.
01:10:33.000
01:10:33.000
JS
You told me I think when we talked earlier that, everyone, or at least all the young people. I think you said everyone, I'm not sure. Who had moved to Japan after the war wanted to get back to Canada.
DK
Yes, that's right.
EK
Or the US.
DK
Even the US. The two Niseis from US they went after the first year. When they finished the middle school, they went back. She's Niskupo now, but she used to, Leona used to - she was there before the war. Before she moved to Japan in 1940 or 39 or 40. So she was in Japan and she just wanted to get out of there. And the other one.
EK
Cass?
DK
Yea, Cass went to Cuzco. She went to. There was a breakup in the family. And so she was so upset that they decided to send her back to her uncle, in Los Angeles. So she went back. And I feel very sorry for her. The thing that she went through in Japan. It isn't just the - we had problems with everything else - but she had extra problems. And, you know, she's, at first she was a cheerful girl. And then she looked so sad. You know, depressed. Now I would say she's depressed. But those two girls went back. And the other two fold later on, after they graduated, they went back. So all the American Niseis they went back. I was the only one. Joyce, Saatchi, stayed behind. Joyce didn't have anybody to rely on. No relatives in Canada. And same with Saatchi. Her two older sisters went to the States. And, yea. She's the only one left.
JS
One thing that I wonder about is, you know is there a feeling that the Canadian Government had forced you to leave your homes, and businesses and having experienced the internment camps, and yet, Canada still appealed as a place to go home to. Was there any feeling, why would I go back to this place, where they treated us in this way?
DK
You know, I think we, the rest of my siblings that were in Japan, we all wanted to come back. And the company I was working there, the accounting company I was working with, they said Why do you want to go back to Canada? I says, I think I feel much freer and he questioned me as if to say what? No. But you see he's the boss, and I'm telling you he lives in a segregated area in Tokyo. Where all the diplomats and business people live.
01:15:00.000
01:15:00.000
DK
And they have a house just like somebody that lives in West Vancouver. A gated house with a swimming pool. A big yard. And they live just like a person that would live in Vancouver or New York or wherever. A big city. And we live in cramped houses. And I thought, “Wow, he lives like this? No wonder he doesn't mind living in Japan.” There's a lot of difference in.
EK
Status symbol.
DK
If you're living in the bottom of the rung and the people that live, you know. They have a garden party, first time I ever tasted caviar laughs.
JS
laughs.
DK
It's a different world. If you are Caucasian and you have a position, you live in a segregated area. And they have what you call American school. And all the children go to it. To an English school. They all speak English. So. That's a difference.
JS
So you returned to Canada in 1956.
DK
54.
JS
54. And can you tell me about returning to Canada? What time of year was it? Do you know the day you returned?
DK
I think it was in the fall. And it's still warm in Japan, but it was a lot cooler when we landed in Vancouver. And my oldest sister Amy met us at the terminal. And I stayed with her for about two years. And then by that time, Terri married, and Cassie came back, and Sumi was in Toronto and she came back. So we rented a house. Upstairs and main floor. So we rented there for a while.
JS
Did you say, were you in Vancouver?
DK
Yea.
JS
Whereabouts?
DK
It's 13th and Fraser. Then up the block.
JS
And did you have any apprehension about what it would be like in 54?
DK
No. I got a job as a bookkeeper. The accounting form I worked in Japan were very good. Not only did they make you understand what you're doing, so you get the sense of how to balance the books. They let you, the first thing I learned how to do was use a calculator. An old fashioned calculator. In high school, I learned how to type in Japan. The missionaries brought in some typewriters. And selected a few, at first it was select a few that was able to learn how to type. So I had four years of typing.
JS
Did you work with a Japanese Canadian firm here?
DK
No.
JS
What was the name of the firm?
DK
Fraser Box company.
JS
Was there any sense of racism in the company, in the city?
DK
This is the thing. Here you don't feel that. pause.
DK
I guess I look different, but they don't glare at you. But in Japan if you walk differently, “Hey, it's so amazing!” If you, I'm in a cage. It's the way you talk or the way you laugh, or get the joke or whatever it is. I'm different. In Canada, it doesn't matter. We're all different. We're all accept that. And, its just so structured. You could tolerate it for awhile. But...
JS
And how did you meet this guy?
DK
Mhmm?
EK
laughs and obscures part of Doris' speech
01:20:08.000
01:20:08.000
DK
Oh we were introduced. We hit it from the first date laughs.
JS
How do you mean?
DK
He came over to my house with the Nakamuras.
EK
Is that the way it was, I can't remember now laughs.
DK
See? Pitiful.
JS
laughs.
DK
Now, mind you, he was working up in Merritt. So he used to come down on weekends. It was a slow go. Nothing. You know. But.
JS
And when did you meet?
DK
In Vancouver.
EK
When!
JS
When would that have been?
DK
Oh. '65?
EK
Something like that. '64, 65. I remember I was working at Craigmont initially, but then I went up to Indako.
DK
Yea, so it was a...
JS
You said you moved back to Vancouver in 1950 to resume school?
EK
That's right, to start at UBC.
DK
UBC.
EK
Home was still at Christina Lake.
JS
Ed do you remember, was 49, do you remember the end of the war? And your feelings about the end of the war?
EK
End of the war was 1945.
JS
I was gonna ask about 1949 and then I jumped backwards in time. Do you remember the end of the war and your feelings about it?
EK
The only thing that I recall was that we were at Alpine and for me it didn't seem to matter. The only thing that I recall was that somebody said that the war has ended. And they were wondering just how Japan did. Because they were old timers. And they said, “Gee I wonder whether Japan lost the war?” And I thought “Oh ok.” But it didn't bother me at all.
JS
And you knew about the bombings.
EK
Hiroshima? I guess I did, yea.
JS
Do you remember your reaction to that at the time?
EK
No.
JS
So '49, what I was thinking was, do you remember changes in the regulations of Japanese Canadians?
EK
What?
JS
Learning that you could return to the coast? You started school in what would have been the second year that it would have been possible to return to the coast.
EK
I guess so. That does not register to me at all as to when the ban was lifted. All I recall was when I went to university, and I was taking physics, and the lab instructor in Physics 100 was a Japanese guy. Richard Asuma. And he was in Oceanography. And he was already in his grad studies. And I'm not quite sure just what his background was. But that's all I recall. He was one of the first Japanese people that I met there. My roommate was from West Vancouver. And he was in Commerce.
JS
This was a Japanese Canadian fellow?
EK
Yea.
JS
And you were sharing an apartment? Or were you sharing residence?
EK
No we were in a camp. We used to call it Acadia Camp. The old army huts were put together as a dormitory.
JS
For Japanese Canadian students specifically or everybody?
EK
No everybody.
JS
So what was the atmosphere like there?
EK
Fine! laughs. Frankly, all the years people talk about discrimination, I saw very little of it. Either I was accepted or whether they, it didn't bother them.
JS
How do you think that could be? Both of you are giving a similar sense of what being in Vancouver in the '50s was like, but I'm trying to think how could it be that the people that were really nervous about Japanese Canadians, supported the uprooting, and all of that discussion, but by 1950 you could return and integrate into mixed student environment. Was there discussion of the war, or the '40s?
01:25:17.000
01:25:17.000
EK
Not that I recall.
JS
It was almost as if it had never happened?
DK
Yea, that's about it. As if it had never happened.
EK
Going to University, you're with a whole new crowd of people. Even when I was in Grand Forks High School, all our classmates, there was four Japanese people in our class in grade nine. That were Japanese. And the rest were I think about another 30 others were Caucasian. And all I recall was that in those years we used to call them Dukhabours. There was quite a few Dukhabours in Grand Forks. There was, you were just one of them. They used to say oh, well all friends. No problem.
JS
Now, when did you become aware of the role that your father had played in the sale of property. Do you remember becoming aware?
EK
The only thing I recall him saying was maybe something about the fishing boats. I didn't realize he was involved in the properties, until I read your article.
JS
Ok. And what kinds of discussions happened within your family of the wartime era?
EK
You know, my dad didn't mention, tell us what he was doing. All of that was, was not mentioned at all. Whether he wanted to shield us from what was going on. I think that's what his motive was. That he just didn't tell us what it was. As I said, I thought his manuscript was on the fishing industry.
JS
Was there discussion of the war generally speaking? Aside from that specific topic of his role.
EK
No, there wasn't. The only part I thought about was that some of the older people who were at Alpine and Christina Lake there, they were peripherally involved with how Japan was doing in the war. That's all I recall. That would only be about two or three people.
JS
By involved, do you mean they were following it?
EK
That's right. They would listen to the radio. I can't remember what it was. I guess armed forces, they were also listening to Japanese people too. I never paid any attention to that. I was too young to do that.
JS
As your kids were growing up did this become a topic that you discussed with them?
EK
No, no. It just went by us. By me anyway.
JS
So, discuss your experiences of internment, or the period in Japan?
DK
My daughter read the article that I wrote. And my son in law said Wow. They know this happened.
JS
So this is quite recent.
EK
Yea.
DK
Quite recent.
JS
So as they were growing up did they have questions about that history?
DK
No, we never discussed it.
JS
Was that an intentional decision to discuss that history?
DK
No, the thing is it didn't bother us. We were two young. It didn't bother us. And we, the thing is, we didn't rebel. We accepted.
DK
I think growing up we accepted things as they came along. I think children nowadays, if they went through the same things as we did, think there would be a rebellion. Because they are more outspoken. But our generation, we listened to our parents more than my kids generation. They didn't listen. They want to do what they want to do. And as long as its not breaking the law, they have that freedom.
JS
Do you know whether your dad ever talked about the war or his experiences with your kids?
01:30:01.000
01:30:01.000
EK
No, no we were. We never heard much at all. All I recall was that we had Japanese School at Alpine. We had Mr. Harry Shubiyo was the teacher for our English. I was in Grade 5 to 8. At Christina Lake there. And then when we first went to Alpine, it was Japanese school, it was 1, 1/5 hours a day. And Mrs. Oya was the teacher. I can't remember. I don't remember much about it, except that it was, i didn't like it. I just thought it was a burden.
JS
Did you ever have an experience like Doris described where a teacher talked with her class about - in her case it was the teacher, or it was your sister's teacher - said this is wrong, not your fault, or you shouldn't consider yourself to blame. Were there any discussions by adults?
EK
No. It was, as Doris says, it was acceptance or resignation. This is it. This is the way its going to be.
JS
So, I'm trying to think through though, so going back to your sister Blanche, she had concerns about the archival material, and what they might mean for her life in Richmond. Or her community life in Richmond. So there was a sense already then that there was knowledge that your father had been involved in the sale of fishing vessels at least. You knew that? How did you know that? How did your family know that?
EK
I think Doris mentioned some of that to me, but I think it was my elder sister mentioned that to me. I just sort of said well, ok. I just hands off. I didn't mention anything more about it.
JS
That would have been around the time of your father's death.
DK
Well before it was.
EK
Well it was after, we're talking about his memoir and where to place it. Some people said well, we should wait a few more years before the older generation of Japanese Canadians pass on, so there's no reprisals. Because they still harbour some feeling towards it. I was doing my own thing anyway. I think the other thing was that I was not here in Vancouver. I was in the mining camps. It was in Northern Saskatchewan, or Fraser Lake, Merritt. You don't hear those things.
JS
So, now that you have read the memoir in English and you've read the article I wrote about your Dad, and you heard me talk at UBC also. How do you feel about the history now? Now that you've thought about it a bit.
EK
;What do I think about it? In some ways I have some apprehensions about what went on, and how it was sort of shaded from us knowing what was going on. This is my first introduction to what was going on. And I'm kind of surprised that all this was happening.
JS
Had you had a prior sense that things might be hidden that you didn't know about?
EK
No, I didn't laughs. As I said, I thought his stories were all on the fishing industry.
JS
Why do you think he participated in the way that he did on those committees.
DK
I think he was asked.
EK
I think he was asked, that's right.
DK
Because he spoke both languages. And in those days there were very few that spoke. And then that spoke both languages.
JS
He was asked by?
DK
The government.
JS
Why do you think he agreed?
DK
I think there was no other choice. I mean, you have to understand the mentality that was there during that year. 41-42.
EK
There was another person. And I - his name came up in your article - who was working with Dad. He was a Japanese person. I don't know him at all.
JS
Yamaga.
DK
Yamaga. Yea, he was Langley, or somewhere in the Fraser Valley.
EK
That there was a first for me. Whether those, my Dad and Mr. Yamaga were talking about it, I don't know.
JS
And, how do you think, now that you've read the memoir, what do you think about how he felt about it afterwards, your dad. Do you think he...?
EK
The fact that he just didn't say anything to us at all. I think it was certainly weighing on his mind. But how, I don't know. I think he may have been thinking did i do the right thing, by going in this direction. I don't know.
JS
What do you think he might have sought t accomplish with the memoir?
EK
That's a good question.
DK
I think he's the truth.
EK
That he just wanted to put down on paper. laughs. I think that's about all I can think of. Is that he just didn't want that piece of work to disappear. I don't know. Pause in discussion
JS
So there wasn't a sense, you never got a sense from your mother of this issue. And there wasn't a sense that -
EK
No, my mother never mentioned anything about this to us.
JS
And you never got a sense from other Japanese Canadians in Christina Lake, or here in Vancouver that there was any
EK
I think Dad just kept it to himself. Because, I never heard anything, let's put it that way. From the friends I used to associate with at Christina Lake.
JS
You told me I think when you were kids, when your dad would go out, he would entrust the ledger book of sales of fishing vessels that he had in his possession to neighbours. So tell me that story again.
EK
Well, all I recall was that, and he did it himself - he knew he was going to Vancouver or something like that on a holiday. This is after we moved to Christina Lake, so it'd be after - here we've got 1946, 47, and I think when Mum and Dad decided to go on a holiday, he took the book over to Mr. Kishi for safe keeping. Because he did not want - we were, the kids, we were all kids then. But old enough to look after ourselves. But that's all I recall. And I thought, gee, there must be something valuable in there. So when I did get the chance, I just sort of snuck a look at a few pages, and I thought oh, these are just the sales of fishing boats. That was all I thought. I never realized what the price was. I thought, good god, these are just giveaways. That's all I thought. So, there was some importance that was attached to that ledger.
JS
I want to change, just topics briefly, and then maybe we'll wrap up, and if we decide that there's reason to have another interview we can do that. I was going to follow up about this Mrs. Buckley who you mentioned. Do you have, did you have any continued contact with that family?
01:35:00.000
01:35:00.000
EK
She was an elderly lady already. All I know was that she was our next door neighbour. And she kindly allowed Dad to store some of his belongings in her basement.
JS
Did you meet her again in 1950?
EK
Yes, yes.
JS
Did you sit down? For tea?
EK
All I remember is that I went over there and had a look at the material, and the next occasion I went there - I was going to university then - Sai Sai Moto, and Mickey Sai Moto came. And they had a truck. And I think it was Sai who said, why don't we just take this, take all this instead of trying t sort through it and just send everything up to Christina Lake. So that was what Sai Moto did, was that he arranged to, so we packed it on the truck and that was it. I never saw Mrs. Buckley after that.
JS
She lived on McGill Street. What was the address again?
EK
26-27 was our house. She was one house to the east. So.
JS
And, is there anything else that we should have touched on? Ed laughs We've touched on a lot, and you've been generous in your stories. Is there anything else we should talk about?
EK
No.
DK
No. I always think what he wrote was a history. And that its important. And I don't know, the life story of it - once I got married to the family - to me it was important. This is why I encouraged him to take it to Nikkei Place.
EK
The other thing is that you were aware that there's a biography of my Dad at Nikkei Place. We gave it to Linda, or to Beth.
DK
No no no. We didn't give it to Linda or Beth. We gave it to, before we took the boxes there.
JS
I know of the short biography that was used for the - I think we had a bit of an exchange about some of the details in the description of your father that accompanies the archival material. But I haven't been a separate biography form that one. Is it, is it in Japanese? Ed and Doris speak together
EK
No, no. It's translated.
DK
No, no, its translated into English.
JS
I'll ask about that.
EK
The person who translated it was Hiro Gata's daughter.
DK
Hiro Gata.
EK
Hiro Gata was a mining promoter in Vancouver that I got to know. His daughter was in Japan at the time. So she translated it. I made quite a few edits on it.
DK
Would you like to have a copy?
JS
Sure, yea.
DK
Would you like me to get it for you?
EK
We can make a copy of it on our machine there.
JS
Why don't we, we'll end the interview and I'll just thank you and I'll stick around and we can do things like that. Thank you very much you've been very generous. A lot of certainly really interesting information.
EK
You know one of the most interesting pieces of information that really awakened myself was Amy's interview with Catherine.
DK
Mmhmm. It's up there.
01:40:12.000

Metadata

Title

Ed and Doris Kimura, interviewed by Jordan Stanger-Ross, 04 March 2015 (1 of 2)

Abstract

Jordan Stanger-Ross starts talking to Ed and Doris Kimura about their memories and knowledge of a manuscript prepared by Ed’s father that is a history of property sales during WWII. Ed’s father was involved in the sales. As the interview continues, Jordan shifts to talk about Ed and Doris’ memories from growing up in BC during WWII, before and after Pearl Harbor and the evacuation of Japanese Canadians from the coast. Ed’s family were interned in Christina Lake and a community called Alpine. Doris’ family returned to Japan during the war, but she eventually returned to Canada. The interview concludes with Jordan asking Ed and Doris to reflect on what they knew about Ed’s father’s experiences.

Credits

Interviewer: Jordan Stanger-Ross
Interviewee: Ed Kimura
Interviewee: Doris Kimura
Transcriber: Heather Read
XML Encoder: Stewart Arneil
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: Ed and Doris’ home, South Vancouver
Keywords: South Vancouver ; Nikkei National Museum ; Steveston ; Skeena ; Queen Charlotte Islands ; University of British Columbia ; Fraser River ; Richmond ; PNE Grounds; Powell Street ; Christina Lake ; Alpine; Grouse Mountain; Queen Elizabeth Park; Port Islington; Japan ; Hiroshima ; Lemon Creek ; Sweet Town; Acadia Camp; fishing; memoirs; childhood; internment; 1940s; 1960s-1970s; present day

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.