Bud Madakoro, interviewed by Alexander Pekic, 10 July 2015

Bud Madakoro, interviewed by Alexander Pekic, 10 July 2015

Abstract
In this interview, Bud recalls his childhood in Toronto as well as moving between BC and Toronto. He recounts his parents' experience during the internment and his family's removal from their home in BC, internment and eventual settling in Toronto. Bud also discusses his parents' lack of discussion regarding their internment experience and the property the owned in BC prior to removal as well as his own and father's return to BC in the early 1950s. He also reflects on his views on the history of the internment and its meaning to other Japanese Canadians.
00:00:00.000
Bud Madokoro (BM)
Do you want the history, or you're gonna, gonna tell us...
Alexander Pekic (AP)
I'll... let's just start by saying that were interviewing Bud Madakoro today on July 10th 2015 at the Eatonville library in Etobicoke. And right now as I'm speaking, Bud, it sounds pretty good, so I think we should have a successful recording. Background talking, laughing
AP
So Bud what I think I might ask you to do is --maybe just-- to point your voice towards the mic as you're speaking. And I think that will work better.
BM
Ok. That's one of the things of Japanese, we don't look at each other. ALEX laughs.
BM
Did you notice that? We don't make eye contact.
AP
That's true. I have noticed that.
BM
We're always looking down, because they say you are not supposed to.
AP
Yeah. Alright, so Bud, why don't you start by giving me your story?
BM
Yeah I was born in British Columbia in Tofino on February 6th, 1941. My dad was a second-generation fishermen. He also and my mother were born in Canada and we lived in Tofino in a place called Storm Bay. Then Pearl Harbor happened and then we were moved, the following year in 1942 to the PNE in horrible, horrible conditions. It was animal shelters, we were there basically for three months. I -- almost passed away because I had eczema so bad and my cousin and my other uncle, they looked after me. And then we went to the interior of BC but my dad was smart, he went to Chatham with his brother and they worked on a road crew. So we were in a place called Popof, which near New Denver. We were there until about '43. That's my mum, my older brother Ken and our grandmother. And then we went to Toron-to, probably the latter part of 1943. So the first things I remember of Toronto, is going to kin-dergarten, and the school I been - this is at Queen and Spadina - Ogden Public School was right across the street and we went for, uh, I did, I went for kindergarten class and after recess we all went home. And the teacher was looking for us. We were there from '43 to '52 and then our dad and my uncles, they were commercial fisherman, they all went back to British Colum-bia. And fishermen are like hippies they want to be their own boss and my dad had been fish-ing since he was 16 so that's the life he preferred. We didn't want to go because we were all Maple Leaf fans and sports fans and we liked the city even though it was very tough. First en-counters with real prejudice in grade 2, the teacher scratched the shit out of me and said I had a mental problem, but it was basically blatant prejudice, racism. And you just accepted this as growing up in the city because it was part of your life. You played sports and someone called you a name you beat them up, or they beat you up. Your typical city kid, you know? Used to sell The Star at Queen and Spadina for three cents and one time a lady gave me a quarter. And life was good. But when we went back to BC that's when we realized the prejudice, because here it was seven years after the end of the war and there is only three Japanese families in a mill town on Vancouver Island. The ironic thing is that most of the people in that town weren't na-tive British Columbians. They were Europeans or guys from other parts of Canada. So we were more - we were third-generation British Columbians and they were more newcomers. Anyways, we stayed in the valley until '62, but it was just sports, three Japanese families, no social life, academically my brothers were good, not me. And, you could make a lot of money because the town was unionized so you went logging and did all that other stuff. It was good but when you're younger you want to socialize and unfortunately there were no people to socialize with.
00:05:07.000
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BM
So after being unsuccessful at UBC I came to Toronto in 1962 after an industrial acci-dent fighting forest fires. The big companies, they don't--they just take advantage of you. You work for them but they don't want to pay you your benefits and everything else. And then stayed in Toronto, enjoyed the social life. But, typical 21 year old guy, was broke, went back home, made some money, came back to Toronto and eventually got into construction and eventually worked as a construction surveyor. Life in Toronto was different because we are hanging with Anglos, Canadian people and the occasional Japanese-Canadian. Got to play hockey which I loved, in the Japanese Canadian league, not very good because out in British Co-lumbia - I'm always making excuses anyway - there's only a curling rink for two weeks in Sep-tember so we could only learn how to turn one way. We were mostly into baseball and basket-ball. And after I came back I met my wife and we got married, and again, we aren't totally into the Japanese community, most of our friends are Canadian. But because we have relations, and most ethnic groups today really prefer the relationship, and that's what you really en-joy. Toronto was and still is dominated by the Orangemen, the Anglo-Saxons, and the Japanese Canadians next to the Jewish Canadians have the highest percentage of PhDs among ethnic groups. But the negative thing is that Japanese Canadians are like bananas, they are yellow on the outside, white on the inside and we don't get involved politically and we should. Most of the minorities in Canada like the Chinese, natives and the blacks were suppressed. The new-comers now coming from Asia and Europe, they're not afraid to stick up for their rights. It's funny because a person said a long time ago that Nissei --that's second generation, people born here--Japanese-Canadians, they really don't have a country because they don't fit in Japan and they stand out in Canada. And as a third generation I feel the same. My daughter's 4th and all her friends are basically Canadians. We're a very small minority, we are probably less than 20000. We aren't as vocal as the Chinese, the Koreans, the Vietnamese or the Filipinos and we always joke saying that we're almost white. Now the economic things lost in the war, our par-ents never talked about it. I heard stories that our dad had a couple acres of land on Vancouver Island which would be worth lots of money, in the millions, and he had a brand new fishing boat. But they weren't bitter about the evacuation even though it was a strictly economic move by the British Columbia government led by Ian Sinclair. Got involved with the reparations in which they gave us some money, but it wasn't enough because of all the valued properties in British Columbia -- and the compensation was very, very small. So I guess - you can really say I'm glad you're doing this project. We are a very quiet group of people, I guess we are very, very conservative. It's too bad. And that's about it Bud laughs. I don't have much to say.
AP
Oh no, thanks for that, and thanks for sharing that. I'm curious to know when you -- you and your family left, your father was fishing at the time.
BM
Yup.
AP
So his fishing boat would have remained there, along with other things. Can you tell me a bit about the stuff that you took with you and the stuff that remained?
BM
Well they had to bury most of the stuff because they had 48 hours. And he had a brand new fishing boat, The Crown 1 in 1941 and someone got it right away. So when they fished in 1951, the British Columbia Packers came east and recruited the Japanese Canadian fisher-man and said they would pay for their boats. But by paying for their boats and working for them they paid them way below minimum wages for the salmon.
00:10:00.000
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BM
So once the fisherman paid off their boats they all went co-op. Fishing, the method of trolling was brought over from Osaka. So our family is from what you call Wakayama County which is the part of Osaka that are the fisherman. Like the group that went to Hawaii, they were farm-ers, and the group that went to southern Cal, they were farmers, and the group that went to Brazil - there is a million Japanese in Brazil - Japanese-Brazilians, and they all speak Portu-guese. My wife's aunt had about 100 acres outside of Vancouver which would be worth mil-lions. It was a strawberry farm. And they lost it and they never got anything. There was one test case in the British Columbia Supreme Court but it's verdict was naturally overturned. It would have been like opening a Pandora's box, I guess. But in America, Japanese in California, Oregon and Washington, if the land was registered into the native-born American-Japanese, they were allowed to retain the property. Consequently the Japanese Americans are wealthier than the Japanese Canadians, who didn't get much.
AP
So you mentioned that your family was given 48 hours notice prior to having to leave. And they buried a lot of their possessions. Do you know much about what was buried and were they able to recover anything?
BM
No, they couldn't get anything. There is a song that James Keelaghan wrote about this lady Kiri's piano. Rather than turn over her piano to the people that were looking after the posses-sions, she just pushed it into the ocean.
AP
Right.
BM
You should listen to it, it's a great song.
AP
I have heard it, it's great. Do you remember if you brought any things to Toronto when your family moved? Did anything from BC eventually find its way to Toronto that you could remem-ber?
BM
That's a good question. Well when we came in '43 it was 5 days from Vancouver to here. I don't think we had much. But then my dad, he was among the first to get a house. And then to make money our mother was a - she had 8 Japanese-Canadian young guys as boarders. I don't think they brought much, I think everything they got was here, they couldn't, it would be too hard to pack on the train.
AP
Right. Where did you live in BC, did you have a house?
BM
Oh yeah we had a house in Tofino, in Storm Bay, it was it was a community of Japanese Cana-dian fishermen who came up from Steveston were most of them were born - Steveston is a suburb, a village outside of Vancouver - and it took them 5 days and they came up in the twen-ties because the fishing was much better. And eventually people sold them land and they built, like all first generations, they all worked hard.
AP
And that home, whatever happened to it?
BM
Oh some guy has it now, like, I think through the years it was left and it deteriorated, he built something new, but he has got the property. It's a fantastic setting. Every two years I go there, to British Columbia, I always drive by and look at it and shake my head. See I think our parents accepted it more than us younger generations, that's why we had that movement for the repa-rations. You know, I guess that was the thing about the Japanese Canadians, the ones that were evacuated, they felt they couldn't do anything about it and they just accepted it. But that's probably the most racist thing the Canadian government did, the Liberals, to totally move people from one part of the country, to strip them of their rights. They couldn't vote until 1949, couldn't even become citizens. They finally got papers saying 'Canadian citizen' despite being born in Canada. pause When I still think about it - lately with guys my age, in their 70s - we talk about it, we get pissed off, to be honest. Our parents just say - they just shake their heads. There's a Japanese expression: 'you can't do nothing about it', so just accept it. Too bad we're so passive.
00:15:06.000
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AP
When you go back to BC and see that home, what's that like?
BM
Yeah. I get mad laughs.
AP
Yeah.
BM
And 2 years ago they had a drought and I was happy because, after the end of the war, Tofino - where I was born, the village of Tofino- had legislation that said they didn't want any Japanese Canadians to settle there. So when the people came back and fished they had to live in Ucluelet which is about 40 miles down, so that was it. Bud and Alex discuss the sound of children singing in the library's community room and the singing on the eventual recording
AP
Your dad's fishing boat, do you know what happened with that?
BM
Yeah some guy had it. When he went back in '51 the guy was still using it. He got a brand new boat built and he gave us $5 to get the name but we couldn't think of a good name. And he had the name Challenger II, and that name was - a lot of companies wanted to buy that name. The other ones named them after their daughters, they were more passive. laughs
AP
Did your father buy the boat brand new?
BM
Yeah, yeah. It was bought brand new.
AP
So when he lost the boat it would have not been very old then?
BM
No it was built that year, built in '41.
AP
So it was brand, brand new.
BM
Yeah, brand new, yeah.
AP
So when you went back in '52 someone was using it?
BM
Yeah, yeah, someone was using it.
AP
And do you know whatever happened to that boat?
BM
No, no. pause. They weren't interested, we weren't that interested. I guess it's sort of odd but we didn't research, we're just here, it's '52, we're back in BC, you got to beat up the guys calling you names, then you grow up with them and they become your friends and everything else. Because British Columbia, like so many places, there are so many different ethnic groups. A lot of people I know won't go back, a lot of Japanese Canadians won't go back to BC because they say “why should we go back to a province where they hate us?”. And it took them from the 1900s to Pearl Harbor - they just had blatant racism. And the MLA, they named a school after him - what his name, oh, Neal - and he said “a Jap is a Jap is a Jap” and all this other stuff. I find that Japanese in British Columbia are more passive, it's like they want to be there but they don't want to cause waves. Similar to Toronto, but, I guess we are pretty con-servative. Losing everything and not having a job makes you pretty conservative I guess.
AP
Do you remember much about leaving BC and going east?
BM
Too young.
AP
You were too small.
BM
Just two years old.
AP
What did your parents tell you about that? Did they speak about much, at all?
BM
It was hard, they were in a shed in the winter, winter sheds, up in -- my dad wasn't there, he was in Chatham with the road crew. But my mother, and his mother and my brother and I were in this place in Popof. Popof was a Doukhobor guy, a farmer, near Slocan, New Denver - and the cabins were cold and everything. And I think that's why a lot of the Japanese Canadians later on in life - they got cancer. Maybe there was stuff in the water, and arthritis. The things weren't winterized, they were just sheds. And she used to go around selling apple pies for all the peo-ple. She was a good girl. And in Toronto she became - she had 8 boarders.
AP
So when you were growing up, did you parents speak much about what happened at that time--
BM
No.
AP
--moving East.
BM
Nothing. Nothing.
AP
So they pretty much didn't--
BM
Like most Japanese-Canadian they just didn't bother. The ones that did dwell on it during the war, they were called the “no-no boys” and they were sent to Angler. And my wife's uncle was one of them. He even got shot at. That was a similar situation because the British - the Cana-dian government gave the Japanese-Canadian people a choice: you can either go East or go to Japan. And some of them in Japan, they didn't fit in, they weren't born there. And Japan is starving them -- they aren't going to feed them or anything else. No the whole experience is that they didn't say much at all.
00:20:07.000
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AP
How about you and your children? Did you talk to them much about-
BM
No, I tell my daughter openly I don't like racism. I don't like inequalities. I still think the same system exists here, the suppression of the minorities. A good example is what they did to the natives in the schools, it's really bad, you know? It's very subtle in Toronto. The racism that's in the States is coming here because it's the same stock, the same stock of people that are in charge. Even though their percentage is falling, they are maybe only 40% of the population in Toronto with more and more visible minorities. But they are the ones still in control. Like in 1968 in the Mexico Olympics John Carlos and Tommie Smyth protested with the black glove salute. I endorsed it but all my friends said, “no that's wrong”. And even some of them, their politics was so right wing. Why should they be so right wing? The only people, the only political party that supported us was the NDP, CCF. Diefenbaker was good, but Mackenzie King... I'm still bitter. laughs And I had an argument with my friend, he said -- well, I said “they should have been more outspoken” and he said “no it was the times” and I said “Yeah, but you can do that you know?” You could be like the Black Power movement, naturally you are going to get scorned but sometimes you've got to do that. That's how revolutions start and everything. I guess because my friends told me a long time ago that I am a rebel, so...both laugh...I'm the obnoxious Oriental.both laugh
AP
I was just thinking about that boat, your dad's fishing boat again. It was called the Challenger?
BM
No, the first one was the Crown 1. The new boat in '51 was the Challenger, Challenger 2.
AP
So Crown 1 was the original one and in '52 it was the Challenger 2?
BM
Yeah, like he started fishing when he was 16 because his father passed away. He had to go out there and fish. We liked it because it was about a 40 foot trawler and he would go away for 10 days ,and we liked it because he was away and we would have the car. So we would wreck the car, burn out the clutch. both laugh
BM
We weren't very good. both laugh
BM
When you talk about Japanese-Canadians being good with technical and all - we were more interested in sports. Its funny, you don't think about it, your friends grow up. And every two years I go there. Now the prejudice they have is towards the First Nations people. So it's al-ways there in British Columbia. You can always sense it.
AP
The Crown 1, when the other person acquired it, was it still called the Crown 1?
BM
Yeah.
AP
So it kept its name.
BM
Yeah. In that book I lent you, you will see them -- where they just went up the West coast -- Coast Guard, Canadian, and just grabbed all the ships, all the boats.
AP
Last time we spoke I think I remember you mentioning that someone that your father was friends with--
BM
Yeah, Ian McLeod.
AP
--he is the one that took the boat?
BM
No, he is the guy that my dead helped, helped him to learn how to be a fisherman. And he was his friend in Tofino. But after the war he showed prejudice towards him. I could sense it right away. My dad was too easy going with a lot of things. And I just said “you have to stand up to these guys”. I guess in a village you don't want to cause waves. But he was among the group of people that didn't want Japanese, I don't know why, but he didn't. We are a good group of people, don't commit crimes or nothing, just hard working people. Like anyone, first comes family, that's it. They have good values, you know, they don't want to shame the family. That's what our parents told us, “don't do anything bad”. That was the disadvantage of living in Port Alberni, only three Japanese families. Any time we did something our mother heard about it. We stood out. laughs We'd go raiding cherry trees and everyone else would get away and “Oh, it was that Madakoro boys” laughs You know, only two Japanese kids there, right? And then we'd play baseball and they'd all remember you and everything else.
00:25:16.000
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AP
So your dad's friend Ian McLeod -- he saw him again in '52 when he returned?
BM
Yeah, he saw him quite a bit.
AP
And the relationship was much different then?
BM
Well, yeah, I guess so. Because they just -- fisherman are like hippies. They are very independ-ent, they got out by themselves. You know they don't have a deckhand, they go out for 10 days. They communicate with the radio and all that. And then they come in. They were hard-working people -- I like the fishermen.
AP
So your father, when he returned -- remind me again. He stayed out West or he made his way back to Toronto again?
BM
No, in the first year, in '51 he tried it. And then our mother said -- he wanted -- fishing season started in April until October and he wanted to fish there like a bunch of other guys did. But my mother said no, you can't raise the three boys and be out there. So we were supposed to live in Marpole which is a suburb of Vancouver. We didn't. We went right to the island. I didn't like that at all, no sports. Eventually -- because you live there you have to accept it. But, there is an old saying, 'how are you going to keep them down on the farm when they have seen Paris'? Because we always had the hankering to come back to Toronto. I guess because of more op-portunities, sports, all these other things that young people like, teenagers like. And we didn't want to go logging. Unless you went to university, you know, and even when everyone got their degrees, most, because the economy is all out east, so everyone's got to come out here. Actu-ally the evacuation was good because there was no jobs out there. You talk to a lot of peo-ple, once they came east of the Rockies, like my dad said, they got all kinds of work. OK they were exploited by Jewish people in the garment industry, in factories. My dad was learning how to be a welder. The guy said “you know how to weld?”, he said “yeah”, so he went from like 50 cents to 75 cents an hour. It was good, because we had a car in Toronto and we used to go fishing to Rice Lake and Fenlon Falls and all those other places. So they were accepting here. Not so - like in British Columbia, they were a known community, Japanese-Canadian communi-ty.
AP
I'm curious to know what you think about how the story of the Japanese-Canadian community, and their experience during the Second World War and afterwards -- how that should be pre-sented to people, to Canadian society and also younger members of the Japanese-Canadian community?
BM
They don't even know about it, because as I said the parents don't talk about it. So you really have to read - and where do we get our information? We finally started something. I was one of the initial guys. I asked the people “why don't we do something?”. And then because it was such a long, drawn-out process, I got discouraged. But the others carried on and they were suc-cessful. And Brian Mulroney, ironically, was the one that said that the Japanese-Canadians should be compensated. And when that happened, naturally the legion people were against it. The only ones that really supported it were Italian-Canadians, because they had a similar thing, being evacuated, and the Jewish-Canadians. They said (unclear) I think the media, the Canadian media, does a very good job of controlling, and only letting you know what you want to know. I'm finding that out now as I'm reading books on our friend Mr. Harper and how he is turning Canada into a right-wing country. All the taking away of civil rights. No, it was - I had argu-ments with Japanese-Canadian Nisei, older than me, they said “No, we don't want to go for compensation. Why should we?” They didn't want to be embarrassed.
00:30:13.000
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BM
It comes back to - we were made second-class citizens, and that feeling still prevails. A lot of us are very self conscious. We compensate by being over friendly and over nice and everything else. Where other groups, just like yourself, you blend in, it doesn't matter if you're Czech, if you're Slovak, Russian or English, you'll blend in, because of the complexion. That's where the blacks and the visible minorities have a hard time. And Canada is showing its true colours now with the problem with the African-Canadian and all that. Because it's the same people that are in the States are here. Those Anglos. And I don't like them. both laugh
BM
And I tell my friends that too. Pause Sorry.
AP
No, no problem.
BM
But I find a lot of my guys that suppressed it, and now we're 70 and we're more open about it, eh? Even when we play sports still the racial things come out and everything else. The lack of - ignorance - “Oh, where are you from, Japan?” “No, I'm third generation. Born here. Our daughter is fourth.” They can't see that. Then European people well say, “What country are you from?” “Hey, I'm born here!” And smarter people will say, you have no accent so obviously you were born here and everything else.
AP
So among your peers, people of your generation - sort of the discussion has changed as you have gotten a bit older or people are more open about talking?
BM
Well there is some, and some are more open, but a lot of them don't want to. They just still, let's have the good times and not get serious. Let's not get serious. I guess we get depressed. laughs
AP
Is there anything you'd like to add? because I think - we are at 32 minutes or so...
BM
That ok, that's enough. Like I said, you should be interviewing people 82, that age group, 80, 81,82. They'll tell you more. See ours is - I didn't know until kindergarten, but they can tell you about moving and what they lost and everything. And if you want I can get you a lot of names. The older Nissei's, in their 90s, like my aunt, they've all been interviewed and they don't want to be interviewed any more. But the ones 80, 82, like April Miwa, her dad owned a lot of prop-erty out in Port Alberny, she'd be a good person. They even named lakes after her. You know, all the immigrants worked hard, a home and everything, and they lost all of that. So I think if you did that, you would probably get a better thing. It's like interviewing young people, they don't know. As I said, don't know until probably about 5 years old, and don't know what we lost. Alex talks about project's openness to speaking to individuals who directly experienced the dispossession and internment as well as those that didn't and learned about it from their family's history
BM
I would say in our case, because we went back, we have a different perspective. We always said that the Japanese that came here were very 'Japanesey' while we were British Columbi-ans, Japanese Canadians. Where they tended to not assimilate as much. Maybe they had to work, but socially they probably-- consequently that's why I didn't hang around much. They were very boring and I was known as a loudmouth both laugh But socially it was very good, so many girls. both laugh Especially for horny guys from British Columbia. both laugh
AP
So is there anything you'd like to add before we wrap up?
BM
No, this is good enough. Alex thanks Bud for speaking with him and discuss the book Bud lent to Alex before Bud asks Alex to shut off the recorder so he can ask him about what he has been doing since they last spoke
00:35:29.000

Metadata

Title

Bud Madakoro, interviewed by Alexander Pekic, 10 July 2015

Abstract

In this interview, Bud recalls his childhood in Toronto as well as moving between BC and Toronto. He recounts his parents' experience during the internment and his family's removal from their home in BC, internment and eventual settling in Toronto. Bud also discusses his parents' lack of discussion regarding their internment experience and the property the owned in BC prior to removal as well as his own and father's return to BC in the early 1950s. He also reflects on his views on the history of the internment and its meaning to other Japanese Canadians.

Credits

Interviewer: Alexander Pekic
Interviewee: Bud Madakoro
XML Encoder: Stewart Arneil
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: Eatonville Library, Toronto, Ontario
Keywords: Fishing; Racism; Tofino ; Toronto ; Vancouver ; BC ; sports; Japanese Canadians; youth; 1941-Present

Terminology

Readers of these historical materials will encounter derogatory references to Japanese Canadians and euphemisms used to obscure the intent and impacts of the internment and dispossession. While these are important realities of the history, the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective urges users to carefully consider their own terminological choices in writing and speaking about this topic today as we confront past injustice. See our statement on terminology, and related sources here.