Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Henry Shimizu Interview
Narrator: Henry Shimizu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 25 & 26, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-shenry-01-0053

<Begin Segment 53>

TI: Okay, before we go there, I'm curious now, so your father, when he got some of the money, here they had just sold his, sort of his life's work. I mean, he spent his life sort of building and growing this New Dominion Cafe, and this business, and he gets this check in the mail. What, do you recall a reaction from him when this happened?

HS: Well, I don't remember how much of a check he got from them, but only examples I have is a few people who, a guy by the name of Sergeant Shoji. His name was Shoji, he was on the West Coast down in, he had one of the market gardens. And he had signed up in World War I and became a sergeant in the army, Canadian army at that time, because Japan was an ally then, at that time. And at the end of the war, they gave, when he came back, they allowed him to buy some land in the lower mainland of B.C. He got 30 acres of land, 33 acres, and he farmed that into a market garden and made a business. Well, then that was taken away from him and sold, and eventually he received a check from them, I forgot, it was something like seventy-two dollars and fifty cents or something like that. It was a ridiculous figure. And he wrote them a letter, he didn't cash the check, he wrote them a letter and said, "Look, my life works, I fought for Canada, and my life work is not worth seventy-two dollars and fifty cents." More or less, "You can stick it up you-know-where. It's not worth it. I won't accept the check." And I don't know if he ever kept the check or not. It would have been wonderful if he had kept the check, because that would have been a good reminder of what, how some bureaucrats' thinking is. Anyhow, that was sort of the idea. We had very, they got very, very little money for the amount of property that was sold, and eventually they got a, the Bird Commission, it was so bad that they decided they would have to have a, have a commission that came together, and they looked at everything and, again, and they realized that, they said, "No, the government made a mistake, they sold the property for too low, a lot of the people are owing millions of dollars," and so my father did get a few more, a few more thousand dollars from it, but not that much.

TI: At this point, your father was, was he just saying, "Okay, I'm going to just have to start all over again"?

HS: Yes. Well, that's the way it felt. You have to start all over. Start all over and forget the past, because it's done. It was, there was a term that they used in internment camp, shikata ga nai. You know, "the situation is beyond our control, we've got to do the best with what we have, and what the situation is." And so that prevailed of a lot of the people, they said, "Forget it, get going on your own." And you didn't, you couldn't dwell on the past, so you'd be sitting around moping all the time and not getting on. He, he had one, several reasons why he went to Edmonton. One was he realized Edmonton was the capital of Alberta, secondly, it had a university, and thirdly, it was the largest city closest to the West Coast, because he was still thinking in terms of going back to Prince Rupert. So when we went in '46, that was his reasoning. Most of our friends from Prince Rupert went out east to Toronto, and they said to him, "You're stupid to go to Edmonton, it's a mud hole. Why are you going there?" And he said, well, he gave these reasons for why he was going there. And then in '47, go there in '46, and then '47, all of a sudden there's this oil gusher that goes up in Alberta, and Edmonton becomes a boom town. It was a town of less than 100,000, and from '47 'til now, you've got, it became a boomtown and, of course, oil became a big deal and eventually everything boomed, and Papa eventually bought himself two rooming houses, and he, he was able to exist on the rooming houses that we had, rentals and apartments of that nature. And eventually the provincial courthouse bought our property and become a part of the land that had to become a part of the, of the what you call the provincial courthouse, it was built on that site.

<End Segment 53> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.