Iola Knight, interviewed by Heather Read, 22 April 2015

Iola Knight, interviewed by Heather Read, 22 April 2015

Abstract
In this interview with Heather Read, Iola Knight, a Canadian woman of German and British ancestry, speaks with remarkable clarity about the people and places that left an impression on her more than seventy-five years ago when she was a student in Vancouver. Speaking at her home in West Vancouver on April 22, 2015, Iola provides vivid details about the pivotal events of her life and her friendships with her Japanese Canadian classmates before, during and after the Second World War. She also discusses the participation of women in the sciences and offers her personal analysis of the impact of the war on gender and race relations in Canada. Finally, she shares her fond memories of her visit to Japan in 1976.
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Heather Read (HR)
I make a funny, little announcement at the start of recordings ... This is Heather Read with Iola Knight in her beautiful home in West Vancouver on April 22 for the Landscapes of Injustice Project. So thank you for speaking with us, Iola.
Iola Knight (IK)
You’re most welcome, Heather, once we got to know each other. laughter
HR
It’s true. We’ve had a lovely little chat getting to know each other. Now, you’ve written us a wonderful story about your background. I would love to get you to repeat a few of the stories that you’ve already written for us because it’s lovely to hear them spoken, and to hear kind of the narration. I wonder if you could start by sharing some of your memories of growing up before the war started.
IK
Before the war ... .Let’s see.
HR
If you want ... .Do you have your story there to refer to?
IK
I’ll just go back that way.
HR
Oh, you have pictures! Amazing. Iola leafing through her photo album.
HR
Oh, thank you so much.
IK
We’ll try to identify these people. I have some photographs here. Fortunately, I’ve retained them. They’re from my elementary school days when ... in the spring, in May, they would have a photographer come to the school and take class photographs. And you will see there are a few of us in our group that have black hair. As I mentioned in my story, Mother, being a Brit ... a British lady, took exception to people with black hair and brown eyes and dark skin. So you’ll see, there’re a few here I can identify. long pause There’s ... umm ...
HR
Oh, do you have it written down?
IK
We had ... I think there’s Shinichi. He was always in my class although he wasn’t a very ... he wasn’t a star. Japanese girls were always top students, and I attribute that now to the fact that they were bilingual. After our English classes at regular school, they went to Japanese Language School, much like some of the children went to ... in other parts of Vancouver, went to Hebrew Language if they were Jewish. And here’s another one. There’s ... that’s probably ... I think that’s Fusako. Some of them I can recognize better than others.
HR
What grades would these photos have been ... or how old are they?
IK
This is Hastings School, Hastings Elementary. It’s 8 Hastings, 2600 block, between Slocan and Clinton, one block north of Hasting Street. The school is still there. As a matter of fact, I think it was one of the oldest schools in Vancouver. When I was a student, they still had the old, original buildings in behind the new school, which was built about 1908, I think. There’s a lot of schools in the same style. Pauline Johnston down here, they were brick and mortar schools, and some of them are being upgraded seismically now. And then this class here, this being a bigger photograph, that’s Margaret Nishikawara. Margaret was the top student, high school graduate in 1941, June 1941. And, umm ... she was among the students, I would think ... By this time I had lost track of these kids because most of them went to Britannia High school, whereas I went to what was then King Edward High School, 12th and Oak, which is now part of Vancouver General Hospital. But Margaret went on after the ... when the war started between Japan and the western nations, and these people were forced migration, they went to Toronto. And she was a graduate of University of Toronto in biochemistry, and went on to get her Ph.D. and emigrated to the States and did research at Bethesda, Maryland. How did I know that? It turned out that many decades later, a friend of mine at the University Women’s Club in Vancouver was a graduate of the University of Toronto and a friend of Margaret’s when they were at university.
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HR
Wow. What a small world.
IK
Ya, it was. Some of the Japanese girls had English names, like Margaret, and there was another one, Marie Iwasaki, but others like Fumiko Tabata and Fusako Nagata, they had Japanese names. Now I’m suspicious that the ones with the English names their families probably converted to Christianity. Maybe, I don’t know. I’m just suspicious. Laughter
HR
I remember in your story you mentioned a few friends ... .you had gone over to their homes. Were you close to the Japanese girls in your classes?
IK
I guess the one in elementary school I was closest to was Margaret. Margaret was ... she lived about ... less than a block away from where I lived. And she had two brothers and an older sister. Now I knew ... I knew of Mary Nishikawara because she was couple of years older than us. And umm ... I was pretty sure she had two because there was one, Ben ... he went overseas with the Canadian army to Holland, and he married a Dutch lady. Now, how did I know that? Many decades later, they turned up in West Vancouver, and they had a daughter by the name of Paula, Paula Nishikawara. And, lo and behold, her father was Ben. And I think they had a younger brother, but he was probably just six or seven years old. It’s funny ... kids know kids a couple of years older, but they don’t know many a couple of years younger. You don’t want to consort with the younger kids.
HR
laughter That’s true.
IK
But Margaret and I, we were good friends. She was a top student-and always ranked first. And then there would be ... Fusako would be around four or five in the ... top ten, and Fumiko would be up in there too. And Sinichi he didn’t ... the boys never broke the top ten. It was always ten girls. I usually was ten.
HR
Well, good for you. Laughter
IK
And then when I went to Templeton, I met Kuni Noguchi. And Kuni and I, we decided ... one of the English teachers, a Mr. McNeil, he wanted ... an associate editor for the school paper called the Tee Jay at Templeton Junior High. And so, since there was two girls, he said, let’s have co-editors, so Kuni and I became the co-associate editors. So that’s how Kuni and I ... of course, we worked together on different articles. But when I went to high school in the fall of ‘40 ... ’38, there was no Japansese students in my classes.
HR
Really.
IK
It seemed as though the enclave where King Edward was located was predominantly Caucasian kids, mostly English-speaking names, and a high population of Jewish people, because it was 10th ... .Oak Street from 10th to Oak, south on 25th, was quite a Jewish enclave. And you know today 41st and Oak, I think it was 41st, you see a big, Jewish school, and a church ... .what do they call it ... synagogue.
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HR
Because you went to school with a number of Japanese children, did you live close to the Japantown Powell Street area?
IK
Oh, no, no ... .you see, Japantown in those days was called Jap-town. It was ... Powell Street, Hast ... Powell Street North and South around Oppenheimer Park, which is about the 200 block east in Vancouver.
HR
You’re very good with street names ... .
IK
And I lived at 2600 block. We were well east. Powell Street ... goes from ... umm ... long pause ... what’s that street ... ? Where Navy Jack is. Not Cordova ... oh, jeepers, it’s Mai ... .Going west is Main ... Columbia ... .I’d have to look it up. But going east from Main Street, there’s about a ... Heatley, no ... Gore, which is where the First United Church, Hastings and Gore. And then going east further is Heatley. Then you come to Campbell. And on east on Powell Street ... goes from there, roughly Main Street and Columbia, plus one block west where it jams into the edge there of Vancouver, what was 1886 Vancouver. And then at the foot of Victoria Drive, umm ... it becomes Dundas. Powell just ... there’s an escarpment there, and a fairly steep hill goes up the hill, and it goes around east Wall Street. And then Powell Street continues up the hill as Dundas ‘til it bumps into Hastings Park. And then it’s ... there’s Dundas becomes a street by the name of Dundas, up east of Hastings Park to Bountry Road.
HR
laughter You could be a map maker!
IK
I sort of visualize these streets, but it’s a good two miles.
HR
Ya, that’s quite far. That makes sense. Did you ... when you were a child, did you ever have a reason to go over to where the Japanese community was centered?
IK
They didn’t have ... in those days, they were ... the Caucasian people, all of us foreigners with names other than Japanese names, we didn’t really have community centres. They were unheard of. There was public parks, but no community centres. Why? I guess it wasn’t ready for it. They didn’t come about. But the Japanese people they pretty well stayed to themselves. There was very little ... well, the women, the adult women consorted with adult women. You never ... very seldom saw or heard ... umm ... one of our mothers talking to the man next door. It was sort of ... .the society was very divided along gender lines. Women talked to women. Men talked to men. We never knew the women’s first names. It was always “Mrs. Brown, Mr. Brown”. We never knew whether it was Harry Brown, or Joe Brown, or Mary Black or what. It was always Mrs or Mr. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that people started to sort of loosen up from that ... I call-what Gordon and myself always call-the Victorian era of very strict lines. Manners. Thou shalt not do this. You eat with the fork in your left hand. You called your mom “Mother”. You never called her “Mom”. It was always “Mother”. Dad was a little looser. I never called my father “Father”. I always called my father “Dad”.
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IK
So ... in my lifetime, I have seen tremendous lowering of social etiquette. Even our table manners have changed in some ways for the worse rather than the better. We’ve become very fragmented. Maybe ... I like it, actually. I don’t like being called “Mrs. Knight.” Who’s Mrs. Knight? Heck, there’s probably dozens of us. I remember when we went to England, we went to Gordon’s father’s home in Hereford. He was from Herefordshire , actually a small town outside of the main city called Hereford. In a place called Lyde. L-Y-D-E. And actually, in his lifetime, in the pre-1900s, it was called Pipe cum Lyde, which is Gaelic language of that area. And we looked on the list in the telephone book, hoping to find some relatives. There was about two pages of “Knights”. laughter No “Musfeldts”. laughter
HR
I bet if you go to Germany, there’d be a couple of Musfeldts.
IK
You’d have to go to a certain part of Germany. My family were from a placed called Mecklenberg. I found out only from a friend that we made up a mountain in the airy part of this 21st century, Ralph Hertzstein. And he knew Mecklenberg. He gave me more ... he told me more about Mecklenberg than my father. Mind you, my father was not born in Germany. He was an American. That’s another story.
HR
Laughter That is another story. When you were talking about the gender division, women versus men, I remember in your story, you had said you felt the women had ... displayed more racism towards Japanese Canadians and other sorts of Canadians. Can you talk about that a little bit?
IK
The women, depending-I don’t know much about other women-but the British women ... I don’t know whether this was general. It is hard to say because in those days, the only adult women we came in contact with, was, outside of our mothers, was perhaps our girlfriends’ mothers, whom we called “Mrs ... .Whatever”. And they didn’t seem to ... I know my own mother was definitely biased. That’s not her ... it’s not her fault. That’s just the way things were. I think it’s hard to describe the Victorian era other than the fact that they were ... it was a very long era. We know that. Therefore, it was very ingrained in several generations that Victorian attitude. And as a consequence, it was a hard thing for my generation to break. Some of us still had it, retained it. I think post-secondary education was the key to the breakdown of ... women became much more positive in their attitudes. They, for one thing, there were a lot of women working outside the home during the war. They didn’t go back into the home after the war. Now that was a disturbing situation for a lot of men when they came back after the war. Their wives had ... whom they had married when they were going overseas, and sometimes left them pregnant. Therefore, their child had no recollection of their dad to sort of ... engender ... and as a consequence, I think there was a general breaking down of that attitude.
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IK
And it came rather sudden. And there were a lot of divorces as a result of marriage before the war, the man going overseas, and fortunately, living to see the day that he came back, remembering that we didn’t ... .Canada did not lose the thousands of soldiers that we did in the First World War. It was actually a dearth of men after the First World War. I had two uncles that went to the First World War. One died in 1919. He had married before the war and had two daughters, and he sired a son when he came back. Must have happened very suddenly because he died ... He came back in 1918 and he died in 1919. And that son went on to the Second World War, and lost his life in Italy. So, there was just the two daughters. Then I had another uncle who was ... They were both my mother’s brother. And he lived until 1928, having sired one son, who’s the same age as me, born in September ‘23. I was born in June ‘23. And he was married after the war. And there again, I don’t know what happened. After he died, his widow left Canada and ferreted ... made her own life. So you can see where wars have ... at least these recent wars, the First and the Second, had a tremendous influence on the population migrations.
HR
Absolutely. Did your own father go to war, either one of them?
IK
No. As luck would have it, my dad was ... he was born in ’81. Gordon’s dad was born in ’83, I think it was. 1883. And, umm, neither of them were young enough to participate in the First World War. It was mostly the young men, 17, aged 17 to 25. My dad didn’t marry until he was 32 ...
HR
That’s old.
IK
... in 1912 ... Thirty-one. And I wasn’t born ‘til 1923, so there was a hiatus there of eleven years when my dad wasn’t home, was in Calgary. But after the First World War, there were ... I would think a fair number of British brides came, but maybe not as many, certainly not as many because the populations were a lot smaller after the First World War than after the Second. And there were also a lot of brides came from France and Belgium and Holland ‘cause those three countries were liberated by the Canadian Armed Forces in 1945, so they kicked up their heels, grabbed the first girl: “Hey, be my bride!” hearty laughter. And there was a tremendous migration of people. I think half of our friends were immigrants. They came. They were mostly landless immigrants.
HR
And mostly European immigrants?
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IK
All Europeans, ya. It was ... .one city, not Trieste, which is up in the north end of the Adriatic Sea, and there was ... it was a free city. It was something like Danzig in the Baltic. It was separated from ... It was separate. It was a city state, much like Singapore is today. And a great many refugees left their own home countries and migrated to ... I don’t know about Danzig, but certainly Trieste. Yugoslavians, Czechs, Hungarians, Austrians. Many of those nations that were overrun by the Nazi Germany, from 1932 to 1940. They were under the, as the saying goes, they were “captured populations”, and they were very careful to do what they were told to do and not make too many mistakes. Otherwise, I guess they ended up getting a bullet to the head. But we did have a lot of friends. And they just told their parents bye-bye. They didn’t say where they were going. And they came. And when Canada opened their doors to immigration, people didn’t need a passport. People didn’t need a visa. They were just landless immigrants. We had several friends that were landless immigrants. And they became first class citizens. Some of those people ... they became very wealthy. And some came before the war, too, particularly if they were Jewish. And this man that we met, Ralph Hertzstein, he was the only one of his family that survived. And why? He encouraged them to leave Ger ... Berlin while they could, but they said, “Oh ... no, no.” They sure shrugged their shoulders at it. Ralph said, “I told them bye-bye.” And he went to Britain, to England. And he stayed and learned the English language. And then he went down to Capetown, into South Africa. And what did he do? He ended up in the South African British Army, so he participated in the Second World War with the ... a German ... .laughter a German, who became a Brit, who became a South African.
HR
Ya, what a fascinating history.
IK
And then he immigrated to Canada. Actually, he told us he didn’t immigrate to Canada ‘til the sixties. 1960s. And he and his wife decided to come.
HR
It’s fascinating to hear you talk about Europe and the war, what you know about the war through friends and things like that. Can you help me learn what it was like in Vancouver during the war? Did you notice that the war was going on?
IK
The war ... Vancouver ... of course, we were on the west coast. As Rudyard Kipling one time said, “East is east, and west is west, and never the twain will meet.” Well, we know that because it’s just like Washington says that folks from the state of Washington, just south of here, say Washington, D.C., “We may be named ‘Washington’, but that’s about it.” The war here was a non-entity in some ways, in many ways, until the Pearl Harbor incident. We had established military here, a little mountain camp, and they were more ... it was more ... .there was a military base out there at Little Mountain because the RCMP had barracks at 33rd and Heather, I guess it was, after your name. And umm ... there was vacant land there, and they had ... built a camp, more or less sort of a ... a basic area for the ... getting people from other parts of B.C. that joined the military. Then they would separate what they wanted to do, whether they wanted to go to the army, air force or navy.
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IK
Then they’d be shipped off wherever there was a training base. But the war really did not start for us until Pearl Harbor. Then all of a sudden, within 24 hours, we were within total blackout. Pearl Harbor occurred Sunday morning, 8:30 Pearl Harbor time, which is 10:30 our time. And by that night, they ... I don’t know who decreed it, but Vancouver, feeling that they were too close to Honolulu to have lights on, and I believe the whole west coast from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle , Portland and Vancouver, all went under total blackout.
HR
So do you remember that happening in your home, having blackout curtains ?
IK
Pardon?
HR
Did you have blackout curtains in your home, then?
IK
Yes. What the blackout was ... there was to be no lights showing from your home. And all street lights were extinguished. Car lights were reduced to the headlights having covers, cardboard covers that fitted. And they had a slit that was about four inches long and half an inch wide. I know that because that was the night that we had ... as I described in my story, this group were going to Victoria by midnight boat, and the boat was blacked out, too. We didn’t know where we were. We didn’t know whether we were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or whether we were half a mile off Salt Spring Island.
HR
I wanted to ask you about that, actually. The boat, like you were sailing on the boat ... did it stop and wait until morning then?
IK
No. No, no. They left Vancouver at midnight. And in those days, the old princess boats were slow, and it took them about six hours to go to Victoria. And ... um ... bearing in mind, that it’s a fair distance from Vancouver to Victoria, going down, south in Georgia Strait and crossing through, I think they went down as far as Boundary Pass, and went into Victoria. And I think they arrived in Victoria about maybe 5:00. And they docked, and people got up whenever they were ready. And usually, they called first bed people to get up about 6:30, 7:00, ‘cause I ‘member it was early when we got up. It was still quite dark. Remember in December it’s not light ‘til ... . It was the 8th of December ... .7th of December was Pearl Harbor. And 8th ... we’re coming up to the shortest day.
HR
Mm-hmm. That’s true. Did you feel scared when that happened? Did you know what was happening?
IK
We weren’t ... .Mind you, we were old enough to understand what it was all about. Like ... that was December 7th, 1941. I graduated from high school June, 1941.
HR
Oh, okay.
IK
So I was going on 18 or 17. Seventeen. And I was doing, taking C-Matric, which is equivalent of first year university, at high school. So we were aware, and of course, I wasn’t among the youngest ones. I guess we had a couple of younger girls who were, I think, sixteen. But the travelling group for the Vancouver Skating Club had to be, preferred to be fifteen, Unless they were accompanied by their parents and that often didn’t happen. We went to Victoria. We went to Nanaimo, went out to New Westminster. There weren’t many places that had ice rinks.
HR
That must have been pretty fun to be part of that group.
IK
We were! hearty laughter It was ... I was a figure skater. They had a competition. They had an amateur competition. It was always in the Granite Skating Club of Toronto. It was a five-day travel from Vancouver to Toronto by train, so there were very few ... I don’t remember any girls, maybe one ... .It seems to me Mary Taylor, Cyclone Taylor’s elder daughter, I think she went to Toronto for that competition, but I don’t think his younger daughter Joan did.
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IK
Joan was a couple of years younger than me. And I got to know that family because one of the boys, Ted, was a classmate of mine at UBC. Ted Taylor, he went into medicine or tried to go into medicine. laughter
HR
Can you tell me what you remember of what you remember after Pearl Harbor because this project explores the dispossession of property, so how the Japanese families were sent to Hastings Park?
IK
Oh, right. How the people were forced emigration. Well, not much took place that we knew of.
HR
Okay.
IK
I must say JQ Public found out very little. For instance, when the Japanese ... .we had neighbours right next door, the Kuronaga, Mrs. Kuronaga, she had one daughter and two sons. I believe she was widowed. And as I mention in my story, we also had Japanese neighbours across the lane, the Yasanakas. I don’t ever remember ever seeing Mrs. Yasanaka. I used to see Mr. Yasanaka. He’d sort of bow his head and say “Good morning”. And then they had a daughter, Kay. I think she was at least two years older than me. And she was friends ... she made friends with Fuji Kuronaga. And they went to Britannia High School. They were big kids laughter, so we had very little consort with them. But all of a sudden, I think it was around Janaury. The one thing I do remember was that I think it was right after Christmas, or in ... sometime in January, we ceased having the privilege to use the ice rink at the Forum because they were going to take the ice out. Now we really didn’t know why, but there was no more figure ska ... no more Vancouver Skating Club, and no more Connaught Skating Club. And no more hockey. You see, in those days, the Forum had two big ice rinks. They had the hockey rink on the south side. And on the north side, they had the curling or skating rink. We called this a skating rink. There wasn’t much curling. Anyways, all of a sudden, the house next door was vacant. All of a sudden, the Yasanakas were no longer there. Where they went, we didn’t know. We did find out, because we lived a lot closer to the centre of activity, that they were being, that these people were all now living in Hastings Park! Some were living in the Forum. Some were living in some of the exhibition buildings. And some others were being accommodated in the ... in that time, were new cattle barns. They had only been used one or two years. They were actually better accommodation, actually. And I was reading how these people were ... they sort of came volunteering, voluntarily to Hastings Park, having divested themselves of their cars. Either they sold them, or they left them at the park. They drove their family there.
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IK
Now, we have to remember there was about 20,000 people. That’s a lot of people. Not just in Vancouver, but scattered through the Fraser Valley. They were farmers. Richmond, Delta, Surrey-they were ... a lot of those people were fishermen. There weren’t many truck farmers, as we called the vegetable farm ... the grocery vegetable farmers. They were more Chinese. And there were Japanese people up the coast, fishing villages, like Port Hardy, Port McNeil, Campbell River, probably, Courtney, Comox, Nanaimo, Victoria, had a fair number of Japanese. And all these people had to come to Vancouver where they were accommodated at Hastings Park. Now, I don’t know whether they were all accommodated there, or whether they had sites over in Vancouver Island. But somehow or other, it was a pretty well organized emigration that they had designed to have these people moved from the coast, not just in Canada, but from here, from Prince Rupert-oh, and there was Japanese people in Prince Rupert-from Prince Rupert on south to the Mexican border. They wanted them a hundred miles east, primarily that they would not consort with any invading Japanese military. That was, to me, the ... .looking back on it, was the main objective. Now where they went beyond the hundred-mile, north-south border was conjecture. Quite a few established in the Okanagan. In fact, the Okanagan became what they used to call Jap-town, and on east. A lot went into Alberta. They went into sugar beet farming in southern Alberta. And the reason they went into sugar beet farming was in those days, cane sugar shipments were cut off ... from places like Central, Central America and the Caribbean, and South America cane sugar. And Hawaii. So ... and then the others went even further east, went to Saskatchewan, Manitoba, like the Sugiyamas, Ontario, like the Noguchis and the Nishikawaras. And I don’t think many went into Quebec-because Quebec, at that time, was very feudalistic. They were still in the days when Champlain came laughter. But immigri ... I don’t think many went into Quebec.
HR
Do you remember what you thought at the time? Did you think much about the forced migration of the Japanese Canadians? Did you notice much?
IK
Not really, Heather. The only thing that we thought of was that perhaps there might be among some of those people that were sympathetic to their homeland, much like ... My dad had some ... a couple of German friends that ... Dad didn’t realize-it never struck him-maybe they weren’t sympathetic to Germany, but they were rounded up in 1939 when we went to war with Nazi Germany. I like to say Nazi Germany because I’m of German descent. I’ve had it thrown at me: “Oh, you’re a German.” ███████ Even in those days. Mind you, my dad had a lot of ... he had absolutely no bias toward people. I was always very proud of the fact that my dad, particularly, had no bias. Mother, on the other hand, she had loads of it. Why? Who knows.
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HR
Your mother was British?
IK
She was a Brit. She was from Ireland. Actually, geneaology has told me a lot. laughter. I didn’t do it. My daughter did it. Ya, so there may have been Japanese sympathizers. I know ... I do remember a little bit of the fact that one of the boys, Mrs. Kuronaga’s son, was an amateur radio ... Whether or not he had communication with ... nobody knows. These things ... nobody really ... communication was ... we learned what they wanted us to learn, I think. It’s just like our social studies courses. If they wanted us to learn about Quebec, they never told us about the migration of the ... Acadian people. I learned that many decades later. And that was another forced migration, done by the English.
HR
Ya, that’s true. Ya, there’s a lot of forced migration throughout Canada, actually.
IK
███████
HR
Going back to your neighbours, do you remember when new people moved into their homes, do you remember how quickly they moved in?
IK
All of a sudden, as far as I was concerned, there was an Italian family moved in next door. I don’t know what happened to the Yasanakas’ house because at that time I was too busy. I finished Matric. By now I was in second year university working my tail off.
HR
It’s a busy time.
IK
laughs All I do know is that the Kuronagas’ home was taken over, sold to Italian people. Hmm ... long pause I can’t remem ... I can’t even remember their name now. It escapes me.
HR
You were probably very busy studying for courses.
IK
Pardon?
HR
You were probably very busy studying for your courses.
IK
I think that’s it. Your centre of world, when you’re in ... well, most of us that are involved in this project here, that case of injustice, can appreciate the fact that when you’re an undergraduate, as the saying goes, your nose is to the grindstone. You either work and it keeps body and soul together or to pass exams ... .
HR
laughter That’s very true. We’ve heard some stories of neighbours trying to hold onto possessions for Japanese families, like holding on to cars, or holding onto cameras, or clothes, so they would pick them up afterwards? Did you hear about anything like that?
IK
The only thing I heard about the belongings of the Japanese was that ... as I mentioned in my story, there was this brick building on the east side of the track spur that connected the waterfront railroad tracks to the main southline tracks over in Falls Creek area. There was, I think it was about a three or four-story building, brick that was built I would say in the mid or early 1920s. It was a biscuit factory. Well, we all know that the 1930s was referred to as the Dirty Thirties. A tremendous number of businesses went bankrupt, and among them was this biscuit factory. And the building was just left.
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IK
And somebody, I guess, got hold of that building and filled it with the belongings of these Japanese people. Now I don’t know how it was done, but I do remember ... .I guess at the end of the war, ’45 ... the Japanese war was over in August ’45. I think it was 8th or 10th of August. I guess by the middle of the next year, I guess it was ’46, they were ... .people were coming in, and migrants from Europe, and the Japanese people in the meantime had become established in these other areas of Canada, and umm ... they did not allow them back to the coast ‘til 1949. And as I remember, that was a bit of a sore point.
HR
Okay.
IK
Why? Why after the war ... but I think part of what happened after the end of the war, it was determined that there was in addition to the Holocaust in Germany, there was a terrible mistreatment of the Canadian military people that were in Hong Kong when Hong Kong was overrun by the Japanese military prior to Pearl Harbor. And those men came back, and they were just skeletons. They were forced labour to work on railroad tracks, and labour in Japan during their internment, which in those days, was against the Geneva Convention, which was set up after the First World War for the treatment of internees or prisoners of war. So what happened with their belongings in this biscuit factory building, which was filled with bedroom furniture, silverware, lamps, living room furniture, etcetera, they were being, the authorities were being, as we consider now, vindictive. And as such, I remember my dad saying, “Oh, God! People are buying bedroom furniture for ten bucks!” I guess if you offered a dollar for a Japanese antique vase, you got it. They didn’t care. All they wanted was a few bucks to cover the costs of renting that building, whoever owned it. The Japanese belongings ... and I guess by that time ...
HR
And this was in 1949? Or ... ?
IK
It must have been around ’46, ’47. Forty-six, maybe, because the war ... I got my degree in May ’45 ... and umm ... May 8th or 9th was V-E Day. And we have to remember the Japanese war, the war with Japan, went on ‘til August when we all know that all hell broke loose with Hiroshima, Nagasaki. So maybe it was in there, or maybe it was a little after, I don’t know.
00:54:14.000
00:54:14.000
HR
Did your dad ... .do you remember what your dad thought about the cheap sales?
IK
Dad didn’t say much about it, actually. He wasn’t a great communicator, laughs for one thing. But I don’t think he thought a great deal about it. It was just ... it happens. I think people ... He read the newspapers. He took the Popular Science magazine. But he was probably fairly well educated for his generation. He did go to college back in Iowa before he emigrated from the States. But ... Dad was never a great communicator.
HR
Some dads aren’t very talkative.
IK
Funny, but looking back on it, my feeling on it was that they were being a little vindictive. But on the other hand, I guess they took the attitude “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, as the saying goes. And I guess the people, the Japanese people, by this time, had established themselves wherever they were, and had gotten on with their lives. After all, ’41 to ’45 ... it was four years.
HR
Do you remember, did anyone you knew from school come back after 1949 when people were allowed to go back to the coast?
IK
No. By that time, we’d all scattered. I got married in ’50. And I don’t remember any Japanese people coming back. I don’t think so. None ... no. It wasn’t until ... as far as I’m concerned, it wasn’t until ’04 when we had ... Templeton Junior High celebrated their 75th anniversary. And as it turned out, and this seems to be quite usual, it’s always the older generations that participate in reunions. The recent graduates, they’re not old enough. They don’t give much thought to it. They’re in the family raising stage, the professional working stage. And it’s not until they get over 55 and are empty nesters that they start thinking about, “Having the 50th anniversary. That’s kind of cool! Let’s go!” So I think that’s the attitude people take. And that’s why in ’04, I think, let’s see, Templeton, they had their 75th, I think it was ’03. Twenty-seven and seventy-five ... uh ... no, it would be ’02 ... ’02. Now I didn’t go because, I’ve forgotten now, I think I was out of town or something. But I didn’t go to the 75th. But they did get in touch with me to have an anniversary reunion for our class of ’38. And the people that got involved in that got a hold of the class list and got a hold of almost 90 percent of us, except for those that lost their lives in the intervening years. And that’s how we got in contact with some of our Japanese friends. And they were good enough, and things had disappeared, that we all became friends.
HR
That’s wonderful.
IK
Because although the Japanese ... .Margaret didn’t come. Margaret Nishikawara didn’t come. And I’m suspicious that she wasn’t available, or they couldn’t get a hold of her because she by that time had retired. And somebody said she was living in Kansas. But I don’t know how true that was, but the one, of course, who has continued communication with me is Roy Oshiro. Now Roy didn’t come to the anniversary reunion. He was still involved with his work. And there again, Roy had gone back to Okinawa. After the war, he went to Okinawa, went back home, went back to his ancestors’ homeland. It wasn’t Japan, per se. But it was Okinawa. He, in the intervening years, had become a Baptist minister. He’d converted to Christianity, and chose the Baptist Church. And as a matter of fact, Roy, he has ... they had in 20 ... 2012, I think it was 2012, UBC invited all the class ... all the Japanese people that were ... would’ve been graduated in the intervening war years, to 1947, I don’t know, ’46, ‘47, no it would be ’45, I guess, that would like to come back and receive their bachelor degree, whether or not they’d finished four years or three years. And Roy came back, and we made contact. But unfortunately, there again, he was over in Vancouver. And by this time, I wasn’t driving over to what I call it “Bigtown” laugh. But we did talk on phone. And at time, we were communicating by fax, and now its email. But his family ... he has two daughters. And they live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And I had a nice email from June a couple of months ago. And Roy is ... he recovered. He was ill. They thought they might lose him, but he managed to hang in there. So he’s still around. He’s two years older than me. He’s 95, and I’ll be ... No he’s three years older than me. He’s 95. I’ll be 92 next year in June. laughs
HR
When you got back in touch with him, did he talk about the war years, or did you move on?
IK
You move on. We didn’t even talk about it-even at our reunion. In fact, some people, one girlfriend of mine, she never knew her dad had been a goldminer up in ’98 at Whitehorse, at Dawson, until they went up. Iola coughing
HR
Should we pause and get a drink of water?
IK
No, it’s okay coughing. I’m just getting over a bad cold. Anyways ... .
HR
About the war time, and kind of afterwards, did you ever talk about it with your children? Did they ever ask what life was like?
IK
As it is with some ... .with my personal family, not so much with Tony, but certainly with Tami. She is very interested in what the previous generations were about. And I think, predominantly, she’s interested from a standpoint of medicine ... in the sense of what diseases might be part of us. And as it so happens, she has-we’re not sure where it came from-whether it’s inherited, we’re suspicious of a disease called fibro ... .fibromuscular ... .
HR
Fibromyalgia.
IK
FMD it’s called. And it has to do with your small capillaries. They can suddenly rupture. And this can lead to ... if it happens in the brain, of course, its game over. It’s a very severe stroke. But she did have a heart attack when she was 47. And this is what they put it down to. Well, as it happened, even at that time, she was ferreting out the geneaology. I think she was more, got into it, because one set of friends of ours, the man is from Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Now, of course, that was the old Yugoslavia. And he lives in Seattle. And he married a Canadian girl. So Peter, his Slovenian name is Bricelj, but he Anglicized it to “Bricel”, and he did the genealogy for his family. And he got it back to the 13th century.
01:05:06.000
01:05:06.000
IK
And another friend of ours, he inherited his genealogy, a document of the genealogy-somebody did it-and it went back to the 13th century too. Only his was German. From South Germany, the Bavarian area of Germany. I think Tammy got interested in ferreting out where we were all from. But as far as the Japanese people were concerned, they didn’t know. We never talked about it. The kids, they’ve learned a bit about it. After I had this reunion at Templeton of the kids coming back, those of us who were still around. It was quite a nice reunion, actually. It was, as some of them said, “If we waited til our 50th, there may not be that many to come back.” We had it on the 66th. They called it Route 66, anyway. It was a great little party, actually.
HR
That’s wonderful. I had two other questions for you. One was ... you had mentioned some of Gordon’s memories of Japanese Canadians and friends that he had.
IK
Yes, well, there were Japanese people living over in Kitsilano. I guess, probably, they were fisher people. Or maybe they were in food ... .there were lots of Japanese people in the food industry. And he had a fellow, a friend by the name of ... I think it was Roy Nishio. Nishio was his last name. And they used to play tennis together. And they all went to Kitsilano High School. But Gordon didn’t mention a great deal about him other than that he was Japanese. Kids don’t talk about ... it’s funny. He can have Chinese friends. He can have Japanese friends. He can have German friends. It never bothered him. It’s you. You and me. You said that you’re from Ontario. And I’m from Alberta.
HR
Ya. Ya, I like that you mention that in your story, that you had friends of all kinds of backgrounds, and it didn’t really matter.
IK
It doesn’t. It never strikes us. It’s like my granddaughter has a boyfriend. And his father is from ... One’s from the Congo, and I think the other’s from Uganda. Guess what he is? laughter And he is. laughter Very dark. The melanin is very thick in his skin.
HR
It would have to be with all the sun where his ancestors come from, for sure.
IK
Ya laughter.
HR
So mentioning grandchildren, the last bit of questioning, is ... .so Landscapes of Injustice is going to make a website, and a museum exhibition and some teacher kits to send to schools to help teach about this history. I wonder if you can reflect on what you think is important for people to learn? What do you think people should talk away from learning about this history?
IK
I ... I think they ... .In today’s world, I’ve lived, let’s see, I’ll be 92 in June. Okay, that’s at least four generations if you call a generation as being twenty years. And it really isn’t ... .do we people really, do the mass of people think about what went on ahead of them? For one thing, a lot of people I’ve talked to, “I don’t remember. Oh, I hardly remember going to elementary school, let alone remembering it.” I think memory is the one key to people being able to relate to previous generations, particularly one’s going into what their children might call great ... great-grandmom, great-grandpa. If they’re interested ... but are people really interested? Are we more, with our rapid communications of today, compared to even when I was a teenager? Something can happen now, and I talk to my friends on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. And what happened, what I’m describing, is instantaneous. When I was a teenager, what happened had to be about two days old. The only reason we found out about Pearl Harbor was the fact that short wave radio from Honolulu to Washington and New York and Los Angeles. Short wave radio, that didn’t kick in to Vancouver ... oh, I found out about it when I was at the ice rink. But, of course, migrations of people today, too. I mean I can get on an aircraft here and in less than twenty hours, I can be in Africa.
01:11:12.000
01:11:12.000
HR
There’s been quite a lot of change for sure.
IK
Oh, ya. And also population. I’m a conservationist. I’m very much wanting to see a balance on our planet, but it’s no longer a balance. I notice that one scientist has finally come up with the title of “anthropocene”.
HR
Yes, I’ve seen that. Ya. It’s the age of hu ... .
IK
A-N-T-H-R-O-P-O-C-E-N-E. Anthropocene, which is the epoch of our particular human presence on the planet. Now how long have we taken to get here, to this point, when you consider the dinosaurs roamed the planet for millions of years, compared to the presence of the human animal, which has only been here for less than 100,000? And will we see the end of it? It’s hard to say. So what I would think, taking away from it, is that it’s time we rolled the young people, getting them at five and six years old aware of where they are. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but certainly, their parents, my granddaughter, she’s aware of where she’s at. My grandson, he’s aware of where he’s at, much more than when I was five years younger than them because they’re now in their mid-twenties, where I was. But ... if something can be brought to form, fine. But there was an interesting article in one of the MacLean’s magazines about the human animal being ... aggressive. We all know, at least, I’m speaking now from a wildlife biologist, there are rise and falls of animal populations. And in the cycle of animals in the wilderness, in Canada, we have the mouse cycle and the rabbit cycle. The mouse cycle governs the small predators, and the rabbit cycle governs the middle-sized predators, like the cougar, and wolf, because that’s their main food. And when the mouse cycle is at a low, so is the martens and fish and otters. When it gets up into the rabbit cycle, when there’s a disease of rabbits, it causes the rabbits to die off. Then in the following years, the cougar and ... bobcat population and the wolf dies down.
01:15:02.000
01:15:02.000
IK
Yet we insist on killing off wolves because there’re too many of them. Why? Because they’re eating too many of our caribou, and elk and deer. Why? Because the elk and deer are human preys. That’s the animals that we like to shoot and eat. Why? Because they’re herbivores. Whereas the cougar and the bobcat and the wolf are carnivores, basically. Now, the bear is an omnivore like humans. He eats anything. And we know that because we don’t like them living in our backyard.
HR
That’s true.
IK
So it’s a case of population control. If we’re going to continue on the line that we are, particularly in the more dense population nations, China, we know, has instituted one child per family, per couple. We know what that can do. Why? Because our culture tells us that men are more important. Males are more important than females. So what were they doing? They were aborting the females, and having ... maintaining a male child. Why? Because the male child would look after them, the parents, as they get old. A girl child she disappears and goes off to marry and male, and she, in turn, goes off to his family. So what has happened is that there’s not enough females to go around. Are we going to see a drop in population? I don’t think so. Why? Because many people living in the wilderness of China, the outer states in the rural areas, are not abiding by that rule. So there’s going to be ... there’s going to be a densification of people in our planet that we thought some of these diseases, for instance, the 1918 Spanish flu, really decimated the population, which was a bad thing because we had already underwent a decimation because of the First World War. Now the Second World War we had a decimation as a result of human interference with the Holocaust, and millions of people lost their lives. And of course, if all of those people had not lost their life, where would be today, population-wise? We would be over ten billion and counting. So, of course, as we decimate the humans, to me, are like elephants. They go ... a herd of elephants goes to the Serengeti and rips up all the vegetation. But it helps the herbivores. And the vegetation regrows. What we do is we decimate the vegetation, but nothing regrows. You just have to look at TV clips of Afghanistan and the Middle East, the mountains or hills, as I call them. There’s not a tree to be seen. You go into Scotland, and England burned all the trees, all the forest in Scotland to rid out the highlanders.
HR
I didn’t know that.
IK
laughter So ... it goes on, and on. So something will take place that will decimate the population of humans, much like it took an asteroid to hit the planet Earth that decima ... .at least, that’s what we feel was the cause. And it certainly, it works up in the fact that ... in ... the valleys, Drumheller in Alberta, the valley there, the river valley, is loaded with dinosaur bones.
HR
Ya, I’ve been there.
IK
Have you been there?
HR
I have been there.
IK
I was too. In fact, I walked across a bone, and I said to Phil Curry, who happened to be with us that day, he said, “Oh, another one.” laughter
HR
It’s true. People in Alberta must find them all the time. It must be old to them.
IK
Did you go to the ... have you been to the Museum in Drumheller?
HR
I have. It was about ten years ago now, so I don’t have very clear memories of it. I remember walking. We did some hiking. My uncle and aunt and I did some hiking in the valley where the museum ... .
IK
Ya. We had a little trip there. It was organized by UBC Continuing Ed.
HR
Oh, fabulous!
IK
When they first opened the museum at Drumheller. And we went, Gordon and I went. And it was a really good trip. Phil Curry was the museologist at the time, and he was fascinating. We got in the backrooms and everything. It was exciting. And then he went on to the Gobi Desert in China to dig up more ... dinosaur ... But that all happened ... it just seemed as though it happened cataclysmically. Whether something like that will happen again is a great big question mark. Or will we kill each other off? Or will what we’re doing to the planet kill us all off? Or decimate the population?
01:21:32.000
01:21:32.000
HR
Have you always been an environmentalist?
IK
Pardon?
HR
Have you always been a conservationist?
IK
Yes, I have because ... I got into ... uh ... I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was interested most in being a veterinarian rather than ... I was more interested in human animals-pardon me, in the, the animals rather than the human animal, human mammal. And I knew I could never make it in medicine. Women just weren’t accepted. Well, push came to shove. I applied to OVC at that time, Ontario Veterinary College at Guelph. “We don’t take women.” Well, end of story. So I had to flip around to find something else. So I ended up, I guess, I finally ended up wanting to be a nurse. But I couldn’t ... they wouldn’t accept me in nursing because I was too young. Good luck, eh. So I was working in St. Paul’s Hospital summer of ’42, after I had finished Senior Matric. And I thought I would take a lab course. They gave a lab course there. So I applied, and I was accepted. And Dr. McNair thought I would do okay. So anyways, came August, and I got my marks from Senior Matric. I topped the class with biology laughter.
HR
Wow!
IK
laughter So embarrassed. Anyway, I got my fees for UBC.
HR
Wow!
IK
My dad, my parents said, “Well, you’re eighteen. It’s time you paid a little bit of your way.” Well, how am I going to go to university? I got the money to go to UBC. No problem there. Plus, I got $25 extra for books, so it was a total of $200. So anyways, Dr. McNair said to me when I went to him, and he pointed his finger at me and said, “You go! You go!” I’ll never forget that. It’s implanted in my memory so deeply. I thought, “Oh, he doesn’t want me to be a lab tech ... ” No, what he said later is ... he said, “You’re so fourtunate.” He said, “You got university fees. You got books.” I said, “But I have to pay board at home.” He said, “You’ll make it.” So as it happened, the way I worked at St. Paul’s Hospital, I couldn’t spend much money because I was either working split shift from seven o’clock to eleven, then three to seven. So, I had no evening life. During the days, most of my friends were going to the beach; I was working, particularly on weekends. So anyways, I did have some money saved, so I was able ... I think I had something like 150 bucks, so ... umm ... I gave my dad and mother fifteen dollars a month.
01:25:09.000
01:25:09.000
IK
And I got a job at David Spencer’s. The lady, Miss Jackes, who was the personnel manager, she was a single lady. So we called her “Miss” Jackes. I think she was a relative of the Spencers ‘cause all the head honchos of Spencers were family. Anyway, she said, “You come at 8:30 on Saturday mornings and we’ll find something for you. And you’ll get ... ” I think it was 35 cents an hour. I made three dollars a week. So that was enough to provide car fare, and a few pennies to boot. And so I worked Saturdays. And when I set my course up at UBC, I had four sciences and two arts. I figured that, well, I work from 8:30 to 5:30, so I should take courses from 8:30 to 5:30. That’s what I did. So, as a consequence, I had lectures or labs from 8:30 to 5:30, five days.
HR
Wow.
IK
I stayed out at UBC ‘til the library at night ... I’d take two lunches, one for lunch and one for dinner. And I’d do my ... write up my notes from the day and do my labs and that. Then I’d go home. I’d be home about ... The library closed at 9:30. And I’d catch a bus back to ... uh ... Tenth and . It was an hour travel, so from 9:30 ‘tiI got home, about 10:30, quarter to eleven, I’d tidy myself up for the next morning, and make my lunch and dinner and put them in the icebox and go to bed. I’d get up at six. And this was my routine.
HR
It’s quite the routine.
IK
Sunday I stayed home and did homework. So that year was a lost year laughter-socially. Intellectually, I learned a lot. I also made a lot of friends in my courses. There weren’t many girls in science. And there’s still just a ... I was reading in this story just this week, there’s a lot more women taking science, but there’s still only 20%, 30% in science. So we’re not ... For some reason, women are not attracted to the sciences. But I was. I was attracted to the sciences, so I guess in the ... the ... uh ... even though when I was working with McTaggart-Cowan, I was the only girl. And decades later, Ian and I had a nice conversation at his home in Victoria. And I said, “Ian, did you have any more females?” He said, “You know, you were the only one.” I said, “You’re kidding!” And all the girls that had gone into wildlife biology. He said, actually, he says they started coming in after I finished teaching. So there are a lot more now. And they are accepting women as game wardens and in the field. I noticed ... .I’m quite active with the Nature Trust of British Columbia, and they have quite a few young women in the field. So we’re making inroads, but the thing is a lot of us don’t stay. And I guess, much like myself, I left the field. But I did go back as a volunteer at the aquarium.
HR
Oh, fun.
IK
And I did a lot of stuff over there for seventeen years when Murray Newman was the director. Murray and I got to know each other when he was doing his Ph.D. work at UBC.
HR
What a wonderful, winding career path you’ve had.
IK
laughs
HR
I’ll just grab a few last detaIls from here, and I’d love to take some pictures of those, actually. It helps since you were talking about pictures on the tape.
IK
Can you see them through the camera?
01:29:42.000
01:29:42.000
HR
I think so.
IK
I had a story ... .Let’s see ... Iola leaves the room for several minutes while Heather snaps photos of Iola’s many photos.
01:35:30.000
01:35:30.000 Iola returns to the room.
HR
I could just stand here and watch the ocean forever.
IK
searching for a particular photograph I had an interview last year in connection with this lodge.
HR
looking at photograph of Iola Oh, look at you.
IK
Oh, I had a couple of interviews last year. I had another one ... for ... .This Laura Anderson she’s a columnist for our local paper. Heather steps out of the room and then returns
HR
What a nice spacious home you have. It’s so spacious here. It’s very nice.
IK
Ya.
HR
Ya.
IK
That photograph ... you see how clear it turned out. One is me, and the other one is this other lady here, Andrea Jennings. Actually, it’s not Andrea. It’s her mom. And she ... her mother was the daughter of Peter Voyda. Now, Peter was another European. He was from Hungary. And he immigrated to Canada just before the Second World War, so he was stuck here, but that was okay. He, apparently, made himself quite useful. He was a ski ... he was a tremendous skier, so he taught skiing at Banff. And then he ... .and then after the end of the war, he emigrated ... came out to Vancouver.
01:40:02.000
01:40:02.000
IK
And some of the guys from our UBC Varsity Outdoor Club got to know him. And he taught the ski team. So then they had to try to get him a job, so they got him a job teaching. He’d already graduated in his engineering from his university in Hungary, so he was a qualified engineer. So he taught engineering out of UBC. Well, he had a family, and this lady is his wife. pointing to photograph And then she ... grew up. And she’s a woman now, I guess, in her sixties, I guess. She’s older, ya ... .she’s older than my kids by about ten years. So anyways, she lives in Whistler, and married a fellow by the name of Jennings. And they spawned two kids, both world champion skiers.
HR
Wow!
IK
So anyways, this photograph ... Peter died. And it showed that Andrea, one of his grandchildren, was Andrea Jennings. So I made contact with Andrea about Whistler because we were up ... we were Whistler skiers for 37 years. And believe it or not, that’s the only photograph they have of their mom when she was a young woman.
HR
And do you have that photo in your house here?
IK
Ya. How I got the photograph was that a friend of ours gave me the photograph because I’m the other animal lover.
HR
Of course.
IK
And what we used it for in our Hollyburn history is that I’m dressed casually, and Andrea-uh, Frances, that’s her name-Frances Voyda was dressed in the latest ski clothing. laughter
HR
Gosh, it sure has changed.
IK
Ya.
HR
Did you wear helmets back then?
IK
Pardon?
HR
Did you wear helmets when you were skiing?
IK
Oh, gosh, no! laughter Heavens! I saw a photograph of some little kids on the skating rink up at Whistler. They all had helmets on. Helmet? Heaven’s to Betsy! I learned to skate when I was four years old. On an ice rink outside my house when I was a kid, so that it never ... .
HR
You never needed it.
IK
We did a lot of heavy skiing. My kids are great skiers, too. pointing out photo of her husband This is my husband. This is one of the few photographs we have. That was taken on our 50th anniversary, up in Hollyburn skiing. We stopped skiing when we were in our late eighties.
HR
Wow! Well done. laughter
IK
Well, what we did was that when we retired, he was retired for almost the same number of years that he worked. He was retired for 32 years, 31 years, and he worked for 32. And we decided that we would ... while we were young, we were going to do a lot of travelling. Well, we did a lot of travelling. And instead of buying souvenirs and stuff, we bought painting, and most of the paintings around here are a result of our travels.
HR
Amazing. Wow.
IK
Up north, Europe. And we had a wonderful trip to Japan in 1970. UBC put it on as part of their Continuing Ed. And they had three weeks in Japan. And Japan, that year, was your first opening after the Second World War. Up until, I think, in the mid-sixties, they were more or less governed by General MacArthur. If you’ve delved into the history of post-war Japan ... ?
HR
A little bit.
IK
It became quite Anglicized. It was interesting because although when we were over there, we thought we were very Japanized. laughter I mean not many people spoke English. However, it was coming. The younger people, let’s see, kids that were ... people that were born ... .we met a lot of people in their twenties, so they were born ... umm ... 19 ... after the war, ‘45, ‘50? And their English was much like we have French: a second language.
01:45:03.000
01:45:03.000
IK
So we had Japanese guides, but they were all English-speaking. And it was a fascinating trip! Absolutely! What’s even more fascinating was the fact Tony and Tammy ... .Tony was in grade eight-no, he was in grade seven, and Tami was in grade five, so we thought they were old enough. They were too old to have a babysitter. And really a little too young to be on their own. So we thought, “Oh, why not take them with us?” So we took them with us. Well, we were the only couple that had kids. Well! It was a door opener! The Japanese people just went gaga over these two little white kids. And we got into places where the other people didn’t get into at all-because of the kids! Towards the end of the trip was a little bit of jealousy. Well, most of the women and men that were on the trip were couples. And they had kids that they left at home. laughter We were crazy enough. We decided to have two kids because you can travel with two, but you can’t travel that well with three. Three or four would cost that much more money. Anyway, the Japanese ladies, particularly the grandmothers ... .These kids got everything! Every hotel we got into, Tammy would get a bouquet of flowers.
HR
Wow! Amazing!
IK
It was a real eye opener to us. hearty laughter If you want a door opener, bring your kid. laughter But they were good kids. We told them, “Don’t follow us. Stay with the guide.” And of course, they got to places that we never got to. Keiji and Mike. One was Keiji. The other was Mike. And Keiji would take the two of them, and they’d go to places. Well, I wish I had been one of them. laughter
HR
How long a trip was it?
IK
Three weeks.
HR
That’s a nice long time.
IK
We saw a lot of Japan. As it turned out, one of the guides, from Vancouver here, Ken Woodsworth, his family were missionary people before the Second World War. So he grew up in Japan and he had a lot of Japanese friends. So we got into places-into galleries, and artists and people he knew from pre-war times. And it was interesting.
HR
I bet. Wow.
IK
Tammy, she was into gymnastics at the time, and we visited a school over on the Sea of Japan. We were right across the islands in the Sea of Japan. And we visited a school over there. And he ... the school master-Keiji I guess had told them that Tammy was a gymnast-and, oh, they were doing gymnastics in their gym, so they took Tammy and we went with her. And they didn’t teach her. She was excellent. I was embarrassed. The gym teacher said, “Oh, oh ... !” She didn’t speak English that well, you see. Anyway, a translation went on between Keiji and the gym teacher. She was a most attractive lady. Gosh, she was pretty! So anyways, she said, “Wait.” So she went back to her apartment. She got Tammy her obi, which is the big bow that goes on the kimono dress. And Keiji told Tammy later that the obi is a very precious thing. And so Tammy, I think she still has all this stuff. Well, that kid travelled the planet. She had, well, with gymnastics, and Canada having the Olympics in ’76, she had trips to Europe. She even went to Israel ... with a gym team that went to the Royal Hopewell Games. They were all Middle Eastern teams and they were from Singapore, Malaysia. All the other ... .Afghanistan ... they all sent teams to this Hopewell Games. It would be held until .
HR
What an amazing experience for a young girl.
IK
Ya. She was ... That happened in ’75, just before ... a year before the Olympics. So she was 14 or 15 at that time, so she really remembers that trip. But she had a big map of the planet, all the different places she’d been. She was up into Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, England. Japan.
HR
Wow. What a fabulous ... .
IK
Anyways, you wanted to get a ... .pointing to a picture. This is where the story came about with this anthropocene extinction. Did you want to get a picture of some of these?
HR
Sure.
IK
I think the big one would be the best.
HR
Probably.
IK
Now, have you got flash on that?
HR
I do.
IK
It may not need it. What the photographer did, ya ... .she had me just over there by the book shelf facing the windows, so it gives light on the photograph.
HR
Ya, we could try that ... Yes, I think that’s very nice light. The interview concludes with Heather and Iola spending a few more minutes trying different locations to find the optimum light in the room for more photographs of photographs.
01:52:51.000

Metadata

Title

Iola Knight, interviewed by Heather Read, 22 April 2015

Abstract

In this interview with Heather Read, Iola Knight, a Canadian woman of German and British ancestry, speaks with remarkable clarity about the people and places that left an impression on her more than seventy-five years ago when she was a student in Vancouver. Speaking at her home in West Vancouver on April 22, 2015, Iola provides vivid details about the pivotal events of her life and her friendships with her Japanese Canadian classmates before, during and after the Second World War. She also discusses the participation of women in the sciences and offers her personal analysis of the impact of the war on gender and race relations in Canada. Finally, she shares her fond memories of her visit to Japan in 1976.

Credits

Interviewer: Heather Read
Interviewee: Iola Knight
XML Encoder: Stewart Arneil
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: West Vancouver
Keywords: cultural identity; racism; education; Pearl Harbor ; Japantown ; 1930s to 1970s

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.