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

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So, we're going to start our interview with Henry Shimizu. Today is Tuesday, July 25, 2006, and we are in the Densho studios, and on camera is Dana Hoshide, and I'm the interviewer, Tom Ikeda. And so, Henry, I'm just going to start from the very beginning of your life. And can you tell me what, what name was given to you when you were born, and when you were born?

HS: Well, I was born in Prince Rupert in 1928. And the names that were given to me at the time was Henry, and then they baptized me John as well, because my mother was an Anglican, and there was an Anglican missionary there that she knew very well. And she was also, she had also become an Anglican in Japan when she, before she came to Canada. Now, the other name that she gave me, of course, was Akira, the Japanese side, and then Shimizu, of course. And that, I was born, like I say, in Prince Rupert, and I still have the old huge, large paper-type birth certificate that they gave out in those days with your little photograph on the back of it.

TI: So what was the date of your birth?

HS: The actual date was November 26, 1928.

TI: Okay. And was there any significance to the name Henry or Akira?

HS: I think, I think my mother wanted to emulate, why she used the word Henry, it was either Henry or Harry. She was thinking in terms of royalty in England, I think, that was her idea. And so that's the reason why she chose that name. It was probably a pretty popular name at that time as well. It's like every generation has certain popular names, and at that time I think it was Harry and Henry.

TI: Yeah, I think my generation --

HS: George, Harry and Henry, those were very common in those days.

TI: I think my generation, David was a real common...

HS: Yeah, David, yeah.

TI: Now, did you have any brothers or sisters?

HS: I had, I had a half brother, in that my mother was my father's second wife. His first wife died in, during the flu epidemic of 1918, and that, she died in Japan. And she, he already had a child, a son, who stayed in Japan and lived with the grandparents after her death. And so she never did, he never did come to Canada 'til much, much later. My dad then after the death of her, his first wife, he...

TI: Well, before we go there, so what was the name of your half brother?

HS: My half brother's name was Andy. Well, that's what they called him, Andrew, his name was Andy. You know, he's never, he's never used his Japanese name, so I don't even know what his Japanese name is, I can't think of it right now. He's always used Andy Shimizu, and he doesn't have a middle initial or anything, so we never knew what the other, other Japanese name was, because he did have a Japanese name, but it was from his... original name. And "Andrew" may have been given to him actually when he came to Canada, rather than something... Shoji, that's right, I remember that now. Shoji is, was his original name. And they said Shoji became Andrew. And he, he was, he's about, let's see. He would be at least ten years older than I am, he's a little bit more than ten years, I think.

TI: But he's passed away?

HS: No, he's still living, living in Toronto. He's in, seems to be in good health right now. The last time we saw him was about six months ago, and he was in good health at that time. He, he stayed in Japan until he was sixteen, I think, or seventeen, and then he then, in about 1937, he came to Canada, and then he stayed ever since and, of course, became a part of the family that way. But in a way, he was, you know, he was at least ten years older than I was, and I was the oldest of my family with my mother Kimiko. And so he was kind of, he was almost like a generation ahead of us. And so our relationship, we never really got to know him very well because he was so much older.

TI: Well, talk about your other siblings.

HS: Now, we had, then I had a, I have a sister by the name of Haruko, and her, her name is Grace, that's what she uses, Grace. And then another sister called Eva, who died, oh, when she was, it's gotta be, what, in the 19-, she died in the 1970s. And another brother, Ken, or his name was Kaien, actually, K-A-I-E-N, just like you have people called Daien, D-A-I-E-N, you know. Kaien is actually, was taken from the island in which Prince Rupert was on. He was born in Prince Rupert as well, and when he was born, my father, by that time, had become a little more, knew a little bit more about Prince Rupert, and he decided to call him after the island, Kaien, and of course it became Ken. And I think his Japanese name was Hideo. I'm not absolutely sure, because he never uses that. So it's just like I don't use Akira, so you get so that you don't even know that what your Japanese name is.

TI: And so what were the age differences between you and your sisters and...

HS: Well, I had myself, then a year later was Grace, and Eva must be about, was about five years younger than myself, and Ken, Kaien, is eight years younger than I. So that was, there were four of us.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Now, you had just started talking about your father and going from Japan after his first wife died, and coming to the United States. First, tell me his name and what area of Japan...

HS: Shotaro or Tom, was my father's name.

TI: I'm sorry, say it one more time?

HS: His name was Shotaro, and his, his English name as they called him right away, they called him Tom. And my father then, he was, he actually originated from, his family was from Nara, and he was born in Nara, in Japan. He came to Canada in 19', as a matter of fact, he came to Seattle in 1905 with this big influx of Japanese labor coming across from, they came across from, for the railroads, I think it was at that time. And they were working at the railroad, with the railroads in 1905. And he, and he, for some reason, he decided that he'd like to go up to Prince Rupert in 1907, he went up to Prince Rupert. Now, he started, once he got into Prince Rupert, he was working there, now, what kind of a job I don't know. But he eventually, in 1915, he started a restaurant and cafe, or restaurant and hotel, that's what it was. He started a restaurant and, he had a restaurant in the ground floor and a hotel in the upper floors. Whether that all in one time, I think it sort of developed gradually and became larger. He actually teamed up with a partner by the name of George Nishikaze, and together -- he became, George Nishikaze became the cook, and then my father ran the restaurant and the hotel, managed both areas. George worked in the back and did all the cooking, and that's how they had their business going.

TI: What kind of hotel and restaurant was this, and who did it cater to?

HS: Oh, they catered to everyone. It was on Main Street, it was called the Dominion Cafe, and it catered to the general public. But it became a kind of a, well, hangout in a way for young Japanese single people who were, a lot of them were, of course, were fishermen, but they would, in the wintertime they would be, couldn't fish, so they'd be around a lot. But on top of that, they were, our restaurant was used as a kind of a place to go for, for the Japanese functions, you know, like funerals or weddings, that type of thing. But they also catered to, to white people, and mainly the white people were coming there, single men or people who, some of them would live right in the hotel, of course. And on top of that, the... well, you would now, in those days we called them Indians, but now you'd call 'em aboriginals now. They often used to use our restaurant as a, as a kind of a place where there were banquets and things of that nature.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: Now, Prince Rupert, was that common to see so much mixing of the different cultures and races?

HS: Prince Rupert, well, you know, we were on Main Street, and we were on the lower part of Main Street. In a way, you might call it, not the ghetto part, but it was considered probably a lesser class than the upper part of Main Street, which was up on the hill. And the upper part of the hill, the businesses were a little more sophisticated, jewelry stores, things of that, and the restaurant they had up there was probably a better, better class of restaurant. But nevertheless, there was a lot of mixing in Prince Rupert because there was a large aboriginal population, and they were involved in fishing as well. But there was also a large Japanese and Chinese part of that city. The white, however, population were, of course, they probably were the, what you might consider the majority in the city itself, but not in the surrounding... outside of Prince Rupert, it was all a lot of Japanese fishermen, a lot of lumbermen who, the lumbermen who worked in the timber area were a number of whites, but then there would be mainly Orientals and some aborigines.

TI: So going back to, like, on Main Street, so upper Main Street, the restaurants up there could... was it mixed, or was it kind of more segregated?

HS: Up in the upper part of Prince Rupert it was a little bit more segregated. It was more like a class situation because they, the town -- and I heard about this much later, in fact. Somebody who was in Prince Rupert, a teacher, I talked to her, oh, in the '60s, so that's, that's, we're talking about fifty years after the fact. She mentioned how the town was sort of run like, in a way, it was run like these, the old idea of the Southern white hierarchy that ran the town. You know, the sheriff and the sheriff's, his son was the dogcatcher or something like that, and the mayor was an uncle of his, and you know, it was like, almost like, this woman said, it was like a, like a sort of a family unit, that they sort of ran the town. It was their town, that idea. Prince Rupert, to some degree, was like that, because incidents did occur when I was there, that showed up.

TI: Like what would be one example of...

HS: Well, one example was a, was across the, kitty-corner from our restaurant was a taxi stand, a big taxi stand, they used to... a big taxi company. You know, they had several cars. When they say big taxi car, say something in the neighborhood of eight or ten cars that, for taxis. And the son of the owner of the taxi drivers, his name was Gurevich, so he was, they were Yugoslavian, Serbs. And anyhow, his son Danny was a bit wild, and at one point he got into trouble with the police, and eventually he... he actually went to the courthouse with a gun, and by happenstance, the people that upset him turned out to be the judge, the provincial judge that was sitting there in his office, and happened also to be the commissioner of the, of the RCMP, and he killed both right there and then. And there was great -- of course, eventually they brought in Mounties from all over, and they, he finally was cornered and he was killed. And of course, that, the funerals were, that happened after that were quite indicative of what happened and what it was like. Because the Gurevichs, when they had the funeral for Danny, it was like one of these big Italian mafia-type funerals, you know, with thousands of people showing up. And of course, the commissioner and the judge, their funerals were very small in comparison.

TI: Oh, so it, that's, okay, so that is interesting. Because I would have thought, here you have the judge and the, the head of the police department...

HS: Head of the RCMP, yeah.

TI: ...RCMP, that they would be prominent, and that their funerals would be large and elaborate and well-attended. But it was the opposite.

HS: That was the opposite, of course.

TI: And that had to do with, in terms of the population of...

HS: Had to do with the population of that area, because there was a lot more... in a way, there were a lot more, in actual numbers, there were a lot more "ethnic" people, if you consider the whole area around Prince Rupert. Prince Rupert itself was a small, it must be five or six thousand people. And there would be predominant white people of a certain English background there. Whereas once you get beyond that, it was Indian, Orientals, and then Scandinavians and people like that.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Now, was it common for there to be a lot of mixing amongst the different groups, or did people tend to stay...

HS: People did tend to stay in their sort of groups. The Indians sort of, you didn't see them very often sort of taking part in affairs that, parties or anything like that that occurred in the town itself. Now, we used to call them Saiwash although they were not Saiwash. They were... I can't remember what the group of Indians they were, but they were, they were a group that were sort of along the coast. They went all the way up to Ketchikan. So Ketchikan is in the, is in the American panhandle, so they were, they were American citizens, whereas Prince Rupert, which was just at the edge of that border, would be Canadian. But the Indians would be all the same, 'cause they, it was like the... it's like the Blackfoot Nation in southern Alberta. They, they're north and south of the border, and they're still one, though, it's the whole thing.

TI: Right, so they didn't really recognize the American-Canadian border.

HS: They never, they didn't recognize the border. They just, that was something that they, it was a foreign concept for them, and they, they just came back and forth, and they would feel that Prince Rupert was just a part of the Ketchikan. All, they were all the same as far as... they were in white man's territory, and they would come. I remember the big chief would come in to have his annual, he'd have an annual party in our restaurant. He would sit out in the lobby part of the restaurant, and they would give him a nice big chair, and then all the Indians would come in bearing gifts to pay homage to the old chief. And he would sort of lay on of hands or whatever you want to call it, inside, they would come in to pay homage to him and he would, he would greet them and they would go through, and it was a big party for them. It was like, they had this sort of thing, potlatch, they talk about potlatch. At one time they did ban it in Canada, and I think it might have been in, the ban might have been still going on in the early part of the period that my father was, restaurant was going.

TI: Now, why would they ban the potlatch?

HS: Well, it was, in a potlatch, the original ones, they, the Indians would give gifts to particular members or particular people, and they would bring very expensive gifts, almost to their own detriment. And it was, but it was an obligation that they felt they had to do, and there was always, always a lot of, in those days, there was a lot of alcohol and stuff like that would go on, too. And the white population or the people in, in the seat of power didn't understand what was going on, and to them, they thought that this, they were somehow being -- this is kind of a, it was a pagan rite, you might say, that was going on. And they, they felt that they should -- no, it was, probably had a lot to do with religion as well as the fact that there was a lot of possessions being given away, and this caused a lot of, created a lot of trouble with some people becoming very destitute. And then there was all those, they become welfare people, of that nature.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: Going back to the hotel, it sounds like it was a fairly large building to have these functions in there.

HS: Oh, our place? Our restaurant would hold, there was a, our restaurant would hold probably about, I think it would hold at least 100 to 150 patrons when it, when they came in. You know, if you, every seat would taken up. They would have at least a hundred seats, but then it was, they had, I remember in a central area, there was about four or five tables that were large tables that had seats that went around them, about ten. And then they had booths. And I think the booths went up from one to... I know there was more than seven because they always, the booths were numbered. So it would be seven or eight booths, and each booth had, had another table with about six or eight in each booth. And then there was a counter that went onto the, on the other side of the main center tables, and that had chairs that, swivel chairs. And there'd be about twenty swivel chairs that people sat, and they would eat directly in front of the, in front of the counter. And behind the counter was where you had your... the old-time restaurant where you have the mirror in the back, and I think you still have some in Seattle, that type, mirror in the back. And you have your displays of what you have, and the menu and everything else behind there.

TI: Now, where would George be? He was the cook, would he be...

HS: George was always in the back. George used to wake up at five o'clock in the morning or earlier and start, start the day. My dad wouldn't get up until about ten or sometimes eleven o'clock, and he, George would go to, would leave about, oh, six o'clock or so in the evening, and go to bed about seven, and then he would -- or seven or eight, and he actually, they had a house about a block away, little over a block, about a block and a half, and they would, he would go home and go to bed at that time. My dad then would keep the restaurant open until, until closing time, which would be anywhere from about ten to eleven, and then he'd stay, he used to sit and read upstairs for another hour or so. So he would be, by twelve or past twelve before he went to bed. So he would sleep, sleep 'til about ten, and then George would wake up, so it was, the place was continually going. And it was never closed; it was never closed except for Christmas Day, and I think New Year's Day.

TI: What kind of food was served?

HS: It was Western food.

TI: So what would that be? What's Western food?

HS: Oh, everything Western: roast beef, pig hocks, hamburgers, steaks, stews. And George was a very good cook; his lemon pie was so good, lot of young Japanese -- in those days, they would be Niseis, a lot of them would come in after going to a movie or something, drop in to have a cup of coffee and apple pie and especially lemon pie. And of course, he did everything, he cooked everything, soups. When he first started, George actually came as a houseboy to Victoria in 1910, he arrived in 1910. He was a, he was a, you know, it would be pretty adventurous, because he was only fifteen years old when he arrived in Victoria. And he worked as a houseboy. Now, one of our friends in Victoria talks about this area in Victoria which is called the Uplands, where the big-monied people were with their big houses. And in one of those houses, she mentioned the fact that if you go downstairs, there's a room with a concrete bed, and she said, they had, they owned this house, and it was a concrete bed with a little room, and the comment was, "Oh, that's where the houseboy lived." And that's how George arrived, he was fifteen, he came as a houseboy, worked for some family, probably ended up -- I have no recollection as, or he never did say who he worked for. But one of the duties that he had to do was that he had to learn to cook, and he learned to cook Western food. And gradually he became a very good cook, so much so that when he left the internment camps -- we're talking about, you know, forty years later when the internment camp, we left -- he was hired by the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal, which is...

TI: To cook at the hotel.

HS: At the hotel. At the, that's the Ritz-Carlton hotel, that's way back later in 1947, but we're going back to, to the time when he was, he was my dad's partner. And he did the cooking, my dad did the running (of the hotel/restaurant).

TI: Well, I wanted to go back to the food, because you mentioned how the restaurant was kind of a hangout for a lot of the Japanese fishermen. Did he ever cook rice for them?

HS: No, no.

TI: Never did that.

HS: George did not know how to cook Japanese food; he never learned. I mean, he could probably cook rice, 'cause he was a good cook, he knew. But if he did cook rice, it was usually, it would be with, as a, as potatoes were, but he cooked more potatoes than he cooked rice. Potatoes was something that he could do, mashed potatoes and...

TI: Well, were there places in town, though, to get Japanese food?

HS: Japanese? No. There was no Japanese restaurants in those days. No Japanese restaurants. We're talking about 19', from about -- see, they started that restaurant in 1915, until we left Prince Rupert in '42, so that restaurant/hotel continued all through that period, all through the depression period. I mean, when things were really bad, and we still were able to, we're still, my dad was still able to exist, they were still able to make a living despite the fact that nobody had any money at that time. But we still had clients, and of course, when it really began to flourish was during World War II. Because World War II started in 1939, and by 1940, Prince Rupert had become one of the shipbuilding areas.

TI: Okay, before we go there, we'll come to that later.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: So I want to, so we're back to the point when your, your father and George started this.

HS: The restaurant.

TI: And this was around 1915.

HS: '15, they started around 1915.

TI: So at some point, your father went back to Japan to marry --

HS: He went back to Japan --

TI: -- to marry his first wife.

HS: -- after they got well-established. I think it was about 1915, went back to Japan about, be about '16, '17 that he went back to Japan, and he married his first wife, and they had a child.

TI: Now, was the plan for him to stay in Japan, or to come back?

HS: No, no, he had to come back, of course. He just went there, and I guess the idea was that he was going to bring her, he was going to bring her to Canada, but she stayed in Japan while he came back, and during that period, so his, so my brother Andy was born about 1918, and she died soon after childbirth with, with the epidemic that went around the world at that time, Spanish flu. So he was left with the, the grandparents took over his rearing, and of course, he stayed there and went to school there and everything else. He was brought up in Japan until, oh, until, like you say, 1936, '37. So that would be almost when he was, he'd be what, seventeen then or something like that. Eighteen when he came to, came to Prince Rupert.

TI: So after your father's first wife died, how did he meet your, your mother?

HS: Well, he came, he then, of course, he was back in Canada by the time, they were working on the restaurant and enlarging it and becoming bigger, and in, well, 1923, he went back to Japan. At that time, he met my, it was an arranged marriage, he met my mother and he married my mother. And then they, she came back with him. He was there for a while, because he, they probably didn't get back here 'til about, get back to Prince Rupert 'til about 1925 or so.

TI: Now it sounds like, based on your description of the business, that your father was, it sounds like, a fairly prominent businessperson in Prince Rupert.

HS: Oh, yeah. He became quite a prominent businessman in the Japanese sense. He took part in the Japanese Association that they had, and he was a part of that group of Japanese businessmen that you might say were the, the doers of the, of that, of the Japanese population in Prince Rupert. Because most of the other people were fishermen, he was doing the restaurant and hotel business. And his friend the Yamanakas did the groceries, and there was about... and then there was a few others that their whole associations were made of people who were in the business of one type or another. They were, they were people who were tailors and had tailor shops, they were people who had laundry shops, things of this nature.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So roughly how large was the Japanese community back then?

HS: The Japanese population, when the Japanese population was removed from Prince Rupert, there was over six hundred people that went on the train. That did not include a lot of the young men and fathers that had been previously shipped out prior to that. So there would be, you have to think that there were close to a thousand Japanese, people of Japanese ancestry living in Prince Rupert. A good portion of them, however, were the fishermen that were on the outskirts, that would be in the villages, Skeena River, Nass River, and Port Essington, so there was quite a few people that were outside Prince Rupert proper, but were a part of that milieu, because they would be always coming into town.

TI: Now, when you think about the population, the Japanese population, you mentioned roughly a thousand were here right when the war broke out. Was that kind of the, the largest population, or was it like in previous years it was actually larger at one point, and then it came down a little bit?

HS: Well, I think it was, it was one of their, it was at that point reaching its height because of all the kids that were being born, and families that were being developed. But it wasn't, it was probably the third largest Japanese population in B.C. The largest was, of course, Vancouver, and then after that was Victoria, and then I think after that would be Prince Rupert. Mind you, there was quite a few Japanese people along the whole of Vancouver Island, and they were involved in fishing, market gardening, and in the timber, wood industry.

TI: So of those, of those three sort of major industries, fishing, the market, agriculture...

HS: Lumber, market gardening...

TI: Gardening and then the lumber, roughly what, what were the sizes? I mean, what was the largest, second largest, third largest?

HS: Oh, I think the fishing probably, well, in Prince Rupert it would be fishing. Vancouver Island, in the Vancouver Island area, it would be lumber, and in the mainland, in Vancouver and the area around that, it would be probably a combination of fishing plus, plus market gardening. Because market gardening, they, there was a lot of Japanese gardeners going on in that lower, what they call lower B.C. They call it lower B.C. area, that would be the area around the airport and it'd be towns like, where now we know as Richmond. In those days it was called Sea Island and Lulu Island, and they had, the soil was good in that area, and they had large, strawberries was a good example. But market gardens of just general vegetables and... they would have, at that point, they were one of the big suppliers of vegetables for the general population.

TI: But in Prince Rupert, the primary industry was fishing.

HS: Was fishing.

TI: So talk about --

HS: And some lumbering, of course. There was big, two big lumber companies up there.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

TI: Well, fishing, so of the fishermen in Prince Rupert, what percentage of them were Japanese?

HS: Oh. They, Japanese fishermen were mainly salmon fishermen. And in a way, they dominated the salmon fishing industry, and if you think about the numbers of -- every year there would be a, the fishing season would open with kind of a bang. All the fishing boats would line up. And the majority of the fishing boats that lined up to go out into the fishing areas were Japanese. I mean, there would be a few white fishermen, and some Indians, but if you look at the, those boats, most of 'em were Japanese fishing boats. And, because they were a particular type. The Japanese fishing boat you could recognize. They were built to, to harvest salmon. They had a very particular type of structure, you could recognize 'em, oh, you could recognize 'em from half a mile away, that they were Japanese fishermen.

TI: Now, where would they get these boats? Who would build them?

HS: They were all built by Japanese boat-builders who learned to build these boats -- some of them might have known that from Japan when they came over, but the majority I think is, are self-taught, or people who apprenticed and realized that they can do it, how to make these Japanese fishing boats. There was one, I went down to Fisherman's Wharf, when we first went to Victoria, that would be back in '84, '85, first went down there to see, to get crab. And somebody said, "You go down Pier 6, Edgy the crab man is down there, go see Edgy." So I went down to see Edgy, and when I arrived at Edgy, I looked at his boat and I said to Edgy, I said, "That is a Japanese fishing boat." And he said, "Yeah, built in 1933," and he says, "It's still seaworthy." It was over fifty years old at that point, but it was still in good shape, it was still working, in good condition. Dirty as heck, but other than that, you can just recognize the way the superstructure is made and everything. It just, and it's hand-built. In those days, they had to hand-build these things, and there were at least, I think there were about four or five Japanese (builders). Up in Prince Rupert area, there would be four or five Japanese boat-building areas, and then on the Fraser River there'd be a whole number of them. They were building these boats.

TI: Well, other than building a particular type of boat, what was it that made the Japanese dominant in the salmon fishing?

HS: Well, two things. They had the right type of boat for salmon fishing, they also apparently had knowledge of where the fish were going to be. To some degree, I was told that the white men never talked to the Indians, whereas the Japanese did, the Japanese fishermen did. White fishermen would, apparently, according to this guy who talked to me about it, said it was beneath their dignity to go and have to ask an Indian. The Indians were, they didn't know anything. But they've been living there for five, ten thousand years on the West Coast. They must have known where the fish were by that time. Japanese people, of course, just by being ethnic, were not, were not averse to talking to them about things, and they would find out to some degree where the fish was gonna be, where salmon were best. Not only that, but they also developed a lure -- and I forgot the name of it, it's something like "red devil" or something, somebody told me about this -- that was especially good for trolling, for catching salmon. And they would catch salmon two ways; they'd troll, or they would net them by getting in an area where they knew that the salmon would congregate, and put down their nets. So they had, they had two types of boats, the boats would often have the, there were little what they called little seiners, and they would have this big drum in the back, and the drum would, would pull the net in that way. Or the other thing, they would have these lines that would go out the back, and they would troll for salmon and catch the salmon that way. With their, with the special, they learned about this, and of course, it would go amongst the Japanese people, "Use this thing, it works. It's a good, it's a good lure." And the white people, of course, they would never talk to a Japanese, or they would never talk to the Indians, and they had to learn, learn to catch salmon on their own. And of course, doing that, they're mainly into halibut, because they required a big boat to go way out in the ocean. But on top of that, they would be mainly people who were involved in the, in the middleman area of fishing, you know. They would go around, pick up the fish...

TI: You're talking about the Caucasians?

HS: Yeah, Caucasians. They were more in the middleman, middleman activities, much less likely to find them as actual primary fishermen out there picking up the fish, catching fish. They would pick up the fish from Japanese places, but not the other way around.

TI: So I'm curious. I think of fishing, each boat has sort of their own kind of little business, and so I would think it'd be kind of competitive in terms of, the more fish you can catch, the better you'd do. Was there much cooperation amongst the Japanese fishermen?

HS: Well, fairly, I would think they did cooperate a lot like that, especially in Steveston, because they had the little group. Steveston was the big -- Steveston, I don't know if you know where that is, that's just south of Vancouver. And it was a big, it's a town that was, oh, in those days, it would be, five or six, four or five thousand people. It was quite a large community of mainly Japanese. Even to this day, they have a number of streets named after Japanese people because they somehow developed gardens or something that sort of commemorated that area, and they were known that way. And the Steveston area did have a large number of Japanese fishermen. It became probably the biggest salmon catching, or salmon product. Salmon was, the biggest product that came out of there (...), and the majority of the people that were doing all the catching were Japanese. And like I say, they had the advantage of being ethnic in terms of... and on the other hand, there was this, there was always this sort of feeling that they were, to some degree cheating because they worked too hard. They would work, they would fish longer, wait until they really got everything, then they'd bring it... they used to have a term called "high boat." A high boat meant that, a fisherman who had a high boat, that he caught a large number of salmon and he would bring 'em in. You would think that it would be a "low boat" because the boat would be way low in the water. But they used to call 'em high boat, and every year, they would talk about, "So-and-so had a high boat," and they were always Japanese fishermen that got a high boat. And to some of the resentment that, of course, developed over the years was because of their ability as fishermen.

TI: And some people, the resentment felt that it was almost like cheating because they worked too hard?

HS: Yeah. Yes, almost.

TI: And who kind of felt that way? Was it again, the whites that felt that way?

HS: Yeah, the Caucasians. I remember hearing that type of thing and working too hard. That's how they were successful: they work harder than, than the Caucasian people.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Going back, though, the Japanese fishermen, did they cooperate in any way in terms of, like, if they knew that there was a school of fish or something and somehow they'd signal and let the other fishermen know? Or was it pretty much just everyone on their own?

HS: Well, everybody, this was a private enterprise, no question. But they knew each other, and they knew, everybody, when they, when that original day, when all the fishermen -- you couldn't go out, the season opened on a certain day in the spring, and then all these boats would line up, and then they'd shoot a cannon, and then they would all take off. And they would go to what they considered their, their special ground, that they knew that they thought the fish would be in a certain place, and they'd set their nets. That's the people with what you call the seiners, that would net a salmon. Other people would troll, they would troll, and they knew where they thought, where the salmon were biting. And as a result, they would talk to each other, obviously, and say, "So-and-so, I got, there's fish over here." In those days, it wasn't a common thing to have a radio on these fishing boats. I mean, they were, but the fishing boats, if you look at the old Japanese fishing boat, it was ideal for trolling. It had a two-cylinder putt-putt engine, it would run, you know, as fast as you can go, going full speed, probably no more than, oh, (three to four) knots, you know, putt-putt-putting along. So in terms of -- and then, of course, for trolling, you didn't want to go speeding along. It had to be a slow, steady thing. And so they had the ideal kind of boat. On top of that, one of those, those old, these putt-putt engines that they had for them, (...) they were two-cylinder engines, (...) -- or four sometimes. But still, nevertheless, very small engines. And they used to start those up with a flywheel, just push the flywheel and get the thing going, they would prime it with a little bit of gasoline and keep trying until the spark would come and then it would start. And, but they were foolproof because they were so simple that the fishermen, they were their own mechanics, they could, they would know how to fix the engine, it was so simple, just a very simple engine. And of course, when the marine engine came, with big cylinder, I don't know how many cylinder, I forgot, eight or ten cylinders, and they would vroom, go along. You're going fast, but you know, that would be okay for netting, but you couldn't, it was very difficult to troll when you're, when you're going, going too fast.

Anyhow, that was the, the whole idea of the old Japanese fishing boat. Like I say, they were hand-built, and I remember one summer, my cousin and I, Harry, who's the son of my, of the cook, and myself, our parents didn't want us under their feet in the summertime, in the holidays, and so they got us to go down and help one of the boatbuilders clean his boat shop, because he was by himself, and Mr. Yabu built this boat by himself. The only time that he had to have a hand -- and right across from him in this Cow Bay, the bay would be, would be where they built the boats. When this tide was out, we used to have about a, we have about eleven- or twelve-foot tide. So you're looking at eleven- or twelve-foot amount of water. So when the tide was out, the actual bay was empty, but it was, it was just mud. But when the tide came in, then you could go across on a boat, or go across to the other side in a rowboat. There was a little cove, it really was a little cove, it was only about 50 yards wide, and across it we had one, two, about three or four, four shipbuilding little places there. Mr. Yabu worked by himself, built one ship, one Japanese fishing boat, and it would be, take him about, take him most of a year to get that one ship all fixed up, and then he would sell it, and that would provide him all the money he needed for the next year. And he'd do it all by himself, though. But you know this, like, even the keel, the bow, the bow had to be a special kind of a curve. He'd go up in the woods, and what he would do is cut down a tree that was coming out of the side of the mountain. You know how they come out and then they go straight up? He'd cut that down. I still remember him bringing one of those down, and then he would cut it using the old, what, you know, the type of chisel that was, I think they called them... it was like an axe, except it had the blade, the sharpened blade towards you (...). And he could cut it down like that, straight ahead of him. (...)

TI: But it's interesting, I never realized, so they looked for particular trees that were on the mountainside because they were already curved.

HS: Curved.

TI: And they would use that. I was always wondering how they made that curve.

HS: They couldn't get that curve.

TI: So they'd look for trees.

HS: That, and because the bow, the bow, what you call the bow timber had to be, it was about that wide. And he'd shape it so that it had little... and he would shape this thing so -- and then at the end, then he would add the lower part, timber to the bottom to get the keel. Well, those could be straight, of course, and that was just getting straight pieces of lumber for that. And then the side, side things, he would put the ribs in, take him quite a while to get the ribs all put in, and then he would have to put the, the side planks that would hold the, give you the hull. Now, that one required a little more, he would have to put those into, into this large steamer that he used, he had built, and the steamer was made out of wood, too. And it would be, he'd have a fire at one end and boiling water, and this would go into this sort of long, long square (...) tunnel that he'd made out of, out of 4 x 8, oh, 4 x 10s rather -- I'm sorry, 2 x 10s, and it would be about, oh, it was about 12 to 15 feet long. And put, he'd put the lumber into, not the shiplap, but the planks into that, and steam it for, I don't know, for about, it'd be quite a while, an hour, something like that, maybe longer, until it was really well-soaked with really hot, hot steam, and so that it could bend. And then, we were two kids, but we were only ten years old, we couldn't help him for that part. He'd have to call across to the other side, and there was one family out there, good boatbuilders, called Matsumotos. They, Matsumotos had, he had four sons, and they ranged in age from about eighteen to twelve, thirteen, something like that. And they'd be all working over there, too, and he'd call over and say he needed a hand, and then two of the boys would come row across, row across the little Cow Bay when the tide was (in), and he had to always time it so it was right so they could row across. And they'd come in, and then they would pull this timber out, this plank out, hot as heck, and they would be wearing, they didn't have any gloves in those days, they used to take towels and they would hold this, hold this steaming timber out of it and then put it on the side. And they bang it, they would use these old u-clamps, they're clamps that, big ones, and they would clamp it to the bow, and then to each rib, and pull this thing around, then they would nail it, and then they'd have to caulk each nail. So it was a big process to do this, but once... so he can only do about three or four at a time, and then the boys would go back and work, go back to their side. And then when he was ready for the next lot, he'd call over and they'd come over.

TI: That's a good story.

HS: It was a, it was a long process, and I'm not sure he could build more than one. Well, on the average, probably one boat a year, but one boat, I don't know how much it cost in those days, but it would be, it would be couple, couple thousand dollars or more. Well, that was a lot of money. A thousand dollars could get you through the year as far as food and everything else was concerned.

TI: But you think about today's, today's, how things are done today, and if you had a hand-built boat by craftsmen, a whole year, I mean, that would be so expensive.

HS: Oh, yeah. Of course, you'd never do that now. Well, you know, the Matsumotos went to Fraser Valley -- after they came back from the internment camps, they went back to the West Coast when they could, when they were allowed to go back again, and they put up their boat shop, became the most prominent boat shop in the lower mainland of British Columbia. And they built, then, the real big luxury-type yachts, like the Chriscraft-type, you know, the big yachts. And that's what they became, and I think the company's still going today, even today. The old man is, I think he died a few (years ago and) it was the older brother died just a few years ago. I remember meeting him, and he was still, had become a big boat-building industry, company.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: Okay, so we're on tape two, Henry, and so I want to go back, and tell me a little bit about your father. What was he like? What kind of man was he?

HS: Oh, Papa was, was, he was a person, very, very committed to the business of the restaurant and hotel. He ran it, and he managed it, so that it would make, it would make a small profit even in the depths of the depression.

TI: So he was a really good businessman.

HS: He was very good, well, what you might say, frugal, because he was a frugal person. And as a result, and hard-working (...) -- and the other thing that he, always remember him saying is that when you run a restaurant, if you run a restaurant, if you're the owner, you always stand by the cash register. That was his, his philosophy. That's where you would make or break your restaurant.

TI: Why is that? What's the purpose of having the owner by the cash register?

HS: Well, his idea was that if you're there by the, by the cash register, you don't have any slip-ups, not only that, there's no, there's no stealing of money from the till. The money goes directly in the till, and then also he could keep... he used to keep a ledger, how much he made every day, and then he used to always be very careful that way, in that figures were important to him, to know exactly how things were being run. He didn't have very much to do with us as kids. He never did, he was not, he was not, he was not a generous man. He was not a loving person in the sense that he never showed any emotion towards us as far as being kids. We always took him as being the father-figure that told us what had to be done, and that was it. And he didn't say very much. My mother was the other (hand), ran the household.

TI: Oh, going back to your father, so he didn't say much. When he did talk to you, was it in English or Japanese?

HS: Oh, in Japanese. He could speak English, but not, but he didn't, when he talked to us, it would always be in Japanese.

TI: Now when he was with, say, his peers, contemporaries, how would you describe his personality when you saw him in that kind of context?

HS: Oh, (...) he was the type of person that would be (reticent), not outgoing, okay. For one thing, he was not outgoing, but he was respected because of, he was just what you call a naturally intelligent type of person. I mean, he did common sense, but very, (...) much stubborn, but steadfast in his ideas. If he said that certain things had to be done a certain way, that's the way it was done. And the reasons why it went that way was because through experience, he knew that that was the way it would work. And he did have that aspect to it. He would do anything, any type of work that was necessary to get things done, so he was, he was a hands-on owner, he ran the cafe. If things were not running right, he would, he would always pitch in. He wouldn't, he wouldn't let... 'cause we didn't have any hired help, it was all done by the family. 'Cause otherwise you could not have survived that period of the depression unless it was done on the basis (...) that no money went out to the people that worked in it. Mr. Nishikaze had, they had... they had five children. We had four, Andy did not arrive until '37, so during the first, during those early '30s, it was a combination of the Nishikaze family and the Shimizu family running the restaurant. The girls would act as waitresses.

TI: And how old were the girls?

HS: Oh, the girls would be, the oldest one was about, the oldest one was the same age as my brother, so she would have been at least ten years older than we were. So when we were in those 1930s, I would be about, say, during the mid-'30s, five or six years old, they would be fifteen, sixteen. So they would, they had one that was about sixteen years old, and they had another one that, year younger or two years younger, fourteen, and they would work. And then they had a younger one, next one would be the boy who was, Koichi, who was, at that time, he would have been fourteen, thirteen or fourteen. So they would, they would all help in.

TI: And so what were some things that you had to do to help out?

HS: Well, we didn't do very much, because by the time I got to the point where, see, I was there from 1930, during the '30s I was too young to be of much help. But I know that we would do things like folding napkins and things of that nature. Harry and myself, we would have to fill a box, a box, toilet box full of napkins to, that's so that we could... amazing the number of napkins you use. [Laughs] And we used to fold them for a, a particular way. Of course, he had that cone-shaped, like a lapel, hankie in the lapel, like the, I don't know what you call it. A little cone-shaped peaked folding, and you fold it, and then you would, they would, we had a whole toilet box, cardboard box, and we have to fill it with those napkins. And then they would take them out and put, put about half, a dozen or so in a glass, a cup, and it would sit out several places on the tables.

TI: Now are these cloth napkins or paper?

HS: No, no, all paper. No, we never had cloth napkins. That's the type of restaurant we had, it was like a, it was a, it was a proper... well, today you would call it a cafe, I suppose.

TI: Now, your dad, when he, did he ever have to discipline you, or was it always your mother?

HS: Oh, yeah, he was, he would be discipline once in a while, but it was mostly my mother who looked after the kids.

TI: And so when your father had to discipline the kids, I mean, how would he do that?

HS: Oh, it was just mainly by voice.

TI: And that was like the law. When he said something... [laughs]

HS: Yeah.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

TI: So let's talk about your mother. What was she like?

HS: My mother was about twenty years younger than my father.

TI: And her name is, was Kimiko?

HS: Kimiko. And she, when she came from Japan, she was in her early twenties. I think she was, well, she got married in '23, and she died in '97. She was ninety years old.

TI: So born 1907?

HS: '7, yeah, 1907, so that would be...

TI: She came in 1923?

HS: So she might have been eighteen or nineteen at the time, when she...

TI: Yeah, it's like even seventeen.

HS: Seventeen, maybe. I forgot how old she was, but she was relatively young when she, she was about twenty years younger than my father, 'cause when... my father died at ninety-five, and that was in '82. And my mother was, died in '90, so that was another eighteen years later, so she was ninety, so she would have been twenty, twenty-one years younger, over twenty years younger. And she came to Prince Rupert, and she was, like I say, at the time when she arrived, she was fairly young. And I came along in 1928, and I was the first-born, so she'd been in Canada for a few years before had her first child, she had her first child. And then we, then we had the, she became pregnant again soon after, and we went back to Japan with her to have her second child. So she actually had my, my sister was actually born in Japan. I was born in Canada, I went back with her as a two-year-old.

TI: Now, do you know why your mother went back to have...

HS: Oh, I think she was homesick. She said that herself, she wanted to go home, and she wanted to have her second, she wanted to have, she was homesick for her mother, so she went, well, she was fairly young, of course, like I said before. Twenty-three, yeah, she would be still in her early twenties by then. And she went home, and she went back to Japan, and she had her second child. And we stayed there for, oh, over a year. And Papa was, used to, continued to work and send, send money back. And eventually, her mother said, "You know, you have to go back to Canada because your father is very faithful to you, sending you money every month and everything. He's put up his, he's doing his part, so you have to do your part." And she, her mother convinced her to come back to Canada. And so by the time we came back to Canada, my sister was a little over one year old, I think. So we were there for about two years, three years, two or three years. 'Cause by the time I came back, I was, I went back, I was almost five, I was four and something. So we were at least two and a half, two years in Japan, came back to Canada, and then of course, we stayed.

TI: So describe your mother. What was she like, her personality?

HS: Oh, personality, my mother was very, she was well-educated. Much better-educated than my father from that point of view. She got her education from the fact that when she was in, her family became Anglicans in Japan, and they sent her to an Anglican secretarial school, in fact, or a, it was kind of a little college type thing. So she, she actually got a good education, finished her education before she got married. And she was, like I say, educated by the Anglican church, so when she came to Prince Rupert, there was an Anglican mission there that was sort of two, there were two spinsters, two elderly Caucasian ladies who were, could speak Japanese, and they sort of took upon themselves to organize the Japanese people in Prince Rupert (...) and the area around. And they were, they were a very good source of information for the Japanese people, and to assimilate into the, into the Canadian way of doing things. 'Cause when my mother arrived, she could speak no English, whereas she got, her English was from Miss Lange and her assistant, plus they would teach them all kinds of things like how to eat with knives and forks, things of this nature. That's what they taught the, the Japanese girls, who were coming directly from Japan, (...) they had to learn to speak English, they had to learn how to conduct themselves in Canada, 'cause it was completely foreign to them. And these two ladies sort of became their kind of conduit into the, into the Canadian society.

TI: Now, were there other things that did similar things besides the Anglican church? Where there, like, other churches that did similar things, or was that kind of the main one?

HS: No, that was the main one. I think there might have been a United Church, but I didn't have any, I'm not even sure that they were involved very much with the...

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Now was there, like, a Buddhist church in Prince Rupert?

HS: There was a Buddhist church, but I don't remember it because we never did go to a Buddhist Church. There were Buddhists, though, and a Buddhist monk used to come there. But they don't, in those days, they didn't have, in Prince Rupert as far as I know, they did not have a Buddhist Church. Buddhists, Buddhism is not really a church, it's a way of life, sort of. And they would arrive, there used to be a Buddhist, Buddhist minister that would show up in Prince Rupert, and I remember him coming there. But there was also an Anglican minister, a Japanese Anglican used to come up from Vancouver. He used to come up, oh, how many times a year? About two or three times a year he would come up. Come up, his name was Mr., his name was Reverend Nakayama. Now, Reverend Nakayama's daughter is a girl by the name of Jo Kogawa who wrote a book called Obasan. And that's where the connection is.

TI: Oh, interesting, I didn't know that connection. Okay.

HS: Huh?

TI: I didn't realize it was that connection --

HS: Her father was, was an Anglican, his, was an Anglican minister.

TI: Well, in between, he comes two or three times a year, then who did the services...

HS: Well, it was done by these...

TI: These two women.

HS: Two women, Anglican. And for a while they had a young Japanese minister that came up and stayed up there, and would conduct -- but he stayed, I don't know how that worked, but he was there for a while.

TI: So on Sundays --

HS: Mainly it was Nakayama who would do the, what you call the missionary work, 'cause he would go up and down the coast. And he would go up through, through each of the, each of the fishing villages and conduct services there and talk to the Japanese people. And of course that would be the same thing with, the Buddhist minister would come up and he would do that. But there was no, as far as I know, there was no real Buddhist church, but there might have been a Buddhist gathering that would happen.

TI: So in thinking about the Anglican church, so as you got older, were there things like Sunday school that you...

HS: Oh, yeah, we had Sunday school there.

TI: And how many, how many kids would be...

HS: In Sunday school? Oh, there would be about twenty-five, thirty kids. There would be, and they also ran a kindergarten, the Anglican missionaries.

TI: So this is before they went to public school, they would have their own...

HS: Yeah, we had a Japanese...

TI: Japanese community.

HS: ...Japanese community type kindergarten. And I know that we had about, maybe about, in my group, there would be about ten, fifteen, well, more than that, maybe about, about, up to about twenty kids that would be in the kindergarten, that they would...

TI: Now, at that point, in kindergarten, did the kids -- because they were coming from the home -- did most of them mainly speak English, or were they all...

HS: Oh, they all spoke -- but they could all speak Japanese, just like I could, I, my first language was Japanese, and I had to learn English after that.

TI: So where did you learn English?

HS: There.

TI: In that kindergarten?

HS: Yeah, the kindergarten, and then we went to (elementary) school.

TI: So in some ways, that was kind of a prep to get you into the public schools. Teaching you English so that when you started --

HS: Oh, yeah. Teach you English, and you started, and I could still remember, well, my friends, all my friends then, at that time, like Harry and people that I associated with were my age, would all be speaking English, (...) I had arrived from Japan, so I was new. I was, so I was four, and then right away, a year after I arrived, I'm in kindergarten, so I'm five years old, and I was still speaking Japanese. And I still remember one time, there was an airplane came through, and I called it a hikoki. And everybody thought, what the hell am I saying? They were all laughing at me, saying, "What is it you're saying, Henry, what is it?" "That's an airplane." "That's an airplane," they said.

TI: So "hikoki" is the Japanese term for airplane?

HS: Airplane at that time.

TI: And so if, if there was a Japanese in Prince Rupert that wasn't part of the Anglican church, would they still go to that kindergarten?

HS: Some, I would think some of them would, too. And it was, Japanese religion is such a way that it's, it's a practical religion in that they, even the Buddhists would go. Even their parents may be Buddhist, but they would still send their, if they thought they were gonna get an education, a good education, they would send their kids to, kids to the Anglican kindergarten.

TI: And these two women taught the English classes, too?

HS: Oh, they taught they, they did, (and) they were conducting the services, they would have English classes for the mothers, not for us, no. We learned our English just amongst ourselves, and then eventually, when we went to school, we began to develop our vocabulary.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So I'm curious, on the flip side, were there Japanese language schools in Prince Rupert?

HS: Yes, there was.

TI: Now, did you have to go to --

HS: I had to go to Japanese language school just like they did in everywhere. On Saturdays we had to, Saturday morning, we'd have to go to Japanese language school. Or, no, and then later on I think they used to have some of them after school, where you'd go to...

TI: So where would you go for Japanese language school?

HS: They had a big, what they call a kaigan. Kaigan or Japanese hall, and that was, belonged to the Japanese community. A big hall, it had a second floor that was like a gym, (...) where there's a big hall with a hardwood floor, not a -- well, I forgot what they would use in those days, probably shiplap floor. But it was, it was varnished well, so they could play basketball in there. And I remember they would play basketball in that, in that hall. At the one end, one end they had a, a stage, with the curtains and everything so that they would, they could carry on plays, and then on the other end, it was, they had a second sort of a balcony so you can have a... and they, that one, it seems to me that that might have been a place that occasionally they would hold their Buddhist ceremony, their Buddhist, what you might call church or ceremony. I think that might have been where it was. I didn't know much about that, but I don't know if... somebody who was Buddhist would have known whether or not they did actually have their, but it seems to me that that might have been where they might have held. And then the whole lower, that was the second level, then the lower level, which was sort of halfway up, halfway below the ground, was like the basement. They had, I think they had about six different rooms in there where they had, they would have Japanese language school there, and they would have something like, oh, there were three or four different levels which you were, and we would have to go there for Japanese language instructions.

TI: Now, I'm curious, what did you guys, what did you call the Japanese language school?

HS: Nihongakko, I guess.

TI: Nihongakko?

HS: Which would be "Japanese school." And it was, it was, to most of us, it was a real chore to have to go there. It was always, going to our own school, and then after a while we'd have to go there after that, go to the Japanese language school, and then it was, all the other kids, our friends, would go out to play, we would have to go to another school. It was quite a ways from our place; we had to walk to it. From where we were, it would have to be up on, it was up on the, up on the hill, it was about, well, it would be about half a mile away from, from where our restaurant was. We lived right in the restaurant, we had a suite put aside where we had a little parlor, and then a little den, you might call it, where Papa kept his books and things, and then we had two bedrooms.

TI: And this is in that same building as the restaurant.

HS: As the restaurant. It occupied two, three rooms, three rooms that the walls were taken down, changed...

TI: Was it the same level as the rest of the hotel, too, there was a hotel there?

HS: It was the second level. That was our, our place where we stayed. So Papa stayed right at, we, as a family, we stayed right in the, in the hotel.

TI: Okay.

HS: Nishikazes lived in, they had a house.

TI: A block away.

HS: A block away, and I think that was also owned by the, the restaurant was made into kind of a company, and it owned, not only it owned the restaurant and hotel, but I guess my father had worked out, bought a house in which Nishikazes lived in. He had the house behind it, it was lived, he was a Serbian, Peter Schabuch, we used to call him.

TI: Now, I'm curious, you mentioned the ownership of this company, were there restrictions on the, the Isseis in terms of land ownership or anything like that?

HS: I don't know how, there wasn't because my father owned that, they had two houses there, one was a small little house, the other one was the one that Nishikazes lived in, and I think he had another one after that, as well. He had about three or four as a part of the Dominion Cafe. Nowadays, you'd say Dominion Cafe corporation, but in those days, it was just, it was just Dominion Cafe, and Papa (...) and his partner, George, owned a bunch of houses, that's all.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: So I want to go back and talk about your family life. So you're living in kind of a second floor, and so your mother sounds like she was the one taking care of the family.

HS: She had to look after us, and conduct -- and we, and Mama and Mrs. Nishikaze always worked together in preparing our evening meal. They would make Japanese food.

TI: Oh, so the families would eat together?

HS: We would eat, we had another room behind the kitchen. There were several hotel rooms, that was just behind the kitchen. There was a general, there was a kind of a bathroom with a toilet, and then behind that was another one, two, three, four, four rooms. And one of those rooms had been converted into our dining room. It always had a piano in it as well, which I think the kids used, the Nishikaze family, the girls had to learn to play piano, and they learned to play it in the, in the dining room, when it was not being used as a dining room. We had a big table there, and we would all sit around that and have our -- it was Japanese food every night.

TI: And so every night there'd be, like, nine kids...

HS: Nine kids, yes.

TI: ...two mothers.

HS: Not always nine, because you, some of the older ones would, would be busy in the kitchen and they would, they would be in the restaurant and they would come back.

TI: Now, would the fathers ever join?

HS: Father would, they would always eat separately, yeah. They would, they would usually eat after everybody else, 'cause they were busy, you know, we would be having supper say around five, five to six o'clock, well, that would be their busy time as far as the restaurant was. Then they would come in as soon as things started to slow down, they would come back in and have their supper, too. And it was, the meal was always prepared by the women. Mr. Nishikaze never, like I say, he never made any Japanese food.

TI: So I'm curious, so when you guys all would eat together, would everyone be seated together? Would the mothers after they finished the food, put the food on, they'd sit and eat with you, all the kids?

HS: Not, not often.

TI: Or would just the kids eat...

HS: Kids would be, they would all eat together.

TI: And describe that. Was it pretty, was it pretty noisy with nine kids?

HS: No, well, we were pretty...

TI: Were you guys just hungry and just eating? [Laughs]

HS: We wouldn't be, no, it wasn't too boisterous. I mean, we weren't allowed to -- well, not so much allowed, but we just weren't, we had the older girls, Nishikaze girls, they had three girls that were, say, the oldest one was at least ten years older than I was. And there's Harry and myself and my sister Grace, and then, then Eva came along, and she was, she's even five years younger than I am, so she was pretty small at that point. And then the last was Ken, and he would be a baby. So, and on the other side there was the three girls that were ranging in age from about eight or nine to fourteen, fifteen, and they would, they would be there and they would, they were, in a way, they were mothers. So our mothers sometimes would eat with us. It depends on how busy, see, both mothers, both of the mothers, Mrs. Nishikaze and my mother, they also helped in the kitchen. Like they would be serving, they would act as waitresses, my father would be at the till, so he would serve whenever it was possible, but he would always look after the paying customers, customers when they came to pay. They always, they would come to the, come to the till to pay their, pay for their food, and then they would leave. So he would be, he would go there and collect the money. Things were pretty, a roast beef dinner at that time was, in the '30s, was fifty cents. You've gotta remember it was very, it was the depression time. Roast beef dinner was fifty cents, and that included the soup, the coffee, and the dessert, which was always a piece of pie.

TI: With the roast beef, potatoes, vegetables...

HS: Potatoes, everything, oh, yeah, gravy. And, of course, George, the cook, Mr. Nishikaze, like I say, he really, really knew how to cook. He was the type of cook that could, whatever he cooked, it was great food. He just, that's the way he was, he just had that knack of knowing exactly how to season everything, make gravy that was like, it was so well-made. He could make all the English things, like he could cook roast beef, pot roast. Of course, pot roast was very common, because it was, get a cheap piece of meat and make it into something that was pretty good. Stews, but pig hock, just as good as any that you could find in Germantown, he could make pig hock the same way. He'd make head cheese, make all kinds of things. He had a little area behind the kitchen, on the side of the kitchen, with a door that you could look outside, 'cause he liked to air it, and he'd have a, it was like a, he was almost like a butcher. He would, he would get great pieces of meat, and then he would chop it up and do exactly --

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: Now, how would you describe your relationship with Mr. Nishikaze? I mean, it sounds like, you at one point called his son your cousin.

HS: Yeah, but it wasn't -- it was really --

TI: But formally you weren't really related.

HS: That's what they told us, we were not related.

TI: Related, but it sounds like the two families were very close.

HS: Oh, so close together, yes.

TI: And did you sort of have an uncle relationship with Mr. Nishikaze?

HS: Mr. Nishikaze we hardly ever saw, because he was cooking all the time. And then he went to bed at seven, or six. He would have supper early, he sometimes would have supper with us, then he would leave.

TI: Well, how about the mother, Mrs. Nishikaze?

HS: Oh, Mrs. Nishikaze was, Mrs. Nishikaze was a few years older than my mother, and she was like the older sister for my mother. So she knew, well, she was, she had been in Canada a lot longer.

TI: So were the two of them pretty close, your mother and...

HS: Yeah, pretty close, yes.

TI: And was it sort of like you were raised by both of them in some ways? I mean, would they both discipline you?

HS: Well, no, no, they still, well, they would, if you were doing something bad or somebody needed to be told that you were doing something bad, but there's no question that each mother looked after their own kids, yeah.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: Now, how would your mother discipline you?

HS: Oh, she was, well, mainly, it was by word of mouth. She would, she would just tell us what...

TI: Was it kind of a quiet way, or was she a little more --

HS: Oh, no, she would get quite, quite loud.

TI: So, so in contrast to your father, she was a little more verbal.

HS: Oh, yes, she was more verbal in terms of, she was more verbal, and she was more involved, so she, she knew when you were doing something bad.

TI: How about things like emotions? Did she show her emotions?

HS: Yeah, she did, a lot more than my father did. No, my mother was quite pretty. She was quite a pretty girl. In fact, I know a lot of the men that would come over would come over just to see her, and they'd come in to have, and certainly she had a number of young guys that become admirers, and they would come over just to talk to her and things like this, which was... 'cause she was, became kind of like an older sister to a lot of the young Japanese fishermen that didn't have a family or were by themselves, they would come and have... like when they used to come, pie and coffee, it was usually my mother who would do the, that was, they would have conversations. My father never got involved in conversations with these, very rarely, anyhow. He wouldn't, he would be, he wouldn't be, he was more involved in making sure that the restaurant was going on. But he wouldn't be doing that much talking.

TI: Now, did you ever, in your later years, ever have a conversation, and it sounds like, when you described, she's twenty years younger than her husband, going to a different country, at a very young age being put in a situation where you're working hard. Did you ever talk to her about that life and what it was like for her?

HS: Well, when she first came, she was, she was a little bit, she came from Osaka, and she lived, they did have a -- I forgot what her father was, but he was, I still remember her father being very dignified-looking fellow, and when she first came, she certainly said she was taken aback by how primitive Prince Rupert was compared to Osaka. She thought that, that when... she thought she would see streetcars and stuff like that that were in, streetcars and things of that nature that were in Osaka. But when she arrived in Prince Rupert, in fact, the main street in front of us, when she first arrived, was still not paved, it was sort of gravel. And it did get paved within a few (years), by the time I was born or came back, because I didn't know anything before I came back from Japan when I was four years old. My recollection, by then, the street in front of our place was paved, and we had a, we had a, first, a boardwalk, a sidewalk made out of boards. And later on it became cement, but the cement did not come in until well into the, well into the '30s. And so my mother, when she came over in 1923, after she was married, my father, when he went to Japan, he dressed well and he arrived, and he was well-dressed. And he had a, you know, there's a picture of him in Prince Rupert looking very dapper. Nice, summer suit, and little, little cap, and that's how he was when he went to Japan. And he was, I guess he impressed the family in Osaka, and he impressed my mother. And of course, she was, like I say, she was young, but she had finished her schooling and her mother said, yeah, but this is a good match. It was still, still a matchmaking type of thing, it wasn't like she found... it wasn't like the usual coupling.

TI: So it sounds like your father, because he looked dapper, he was probably financially pretty well-off.

HS: Well, in terms of, yes, in terms of a Japanese person coming back to Japan, he was, he had enough money to go to Japan, you know, and he got a first-class passage, that was the other thing. I don't know how he went there, but he certainly, on the way back, my mother remembers that they were in first class, and they sat at the captain's table, and she was very impressed with that. They came to Victoria, and it was, when she saw -- she said that when she got there, she looked over the, she looked onto the dock, I think they had to change ships there because they came to Victoria and they got onto the CNR line, which was Prince, they were called Prince Robert, Prince Rupert, she got on one of those ships. But when she came from the Orient, it was like the empress of Japan, or they, I forgot which, one of those PMO lines, those big white ships they used to have in those days. She came that way, and she said that when she got (here), she came to Victoria or, I forget whether it was Victoria or Vancouver, she was, she said she had the shock of her life. She saw these stevedores unloading, and she said they were all white. And she said it never occurred to her that white people did any actual manual labor. [Laughs] She thought they were always like the captain or somebody, doing, doing, telling other people to go do the work. Even when she was on the ship, like on the PMO line, a lot of the sailors were not white sailors, they were Chinese or Malaysian. And even when she, when she had, that was her, that's what she thought. When she came to, came to Canada, saw these people actually working with hand, as hands, she said, "I was shocked. I didn't realize that white people actually worked." [Laughs]

TI: Now, was her family pretty, pretty well-off in Osaka?

HS: They would be, they would be considered well-off, yeah.

TI: So is it safe to say it was kind of a, perhaps a rude awakening?

HS: Rude awakening coming to Prince Rupert.

TI: To Prince Rupert and actually...

HS: Actually seeing Prince Rupert, and then going to...

TI: And what she had to do.

HS: Oh, yeah, what she had to do. And she had to learn English, and she, and the average, the average person there was, was pretty uneducated as far as Japanese were concerned. A lot of the women had not had more than a grade five education or even less than that. A lot of it was self-taught.

TI: And so after she had you, and then she was pregnant with your sister and went back to Japan, do you think it was because she had enough and she was gonna stay in Japan?

HS: She may have had that idea to some degree.

TI: Because it sounded like your mother, I mean, your mother's mother, your grandmother, had to convince her to come back to Prince Rupert.

HS: Oh, yeah. She was, she said that her mother talked to her and said, "You have to go back to Canada because your father is such a good man."

TI: Now, did you, how would you describe the relationship with your, of your parents? Did you see them interact very much, and how would you describe that?

HS: Oh, they were very, they weren't a loving couple, as you might consider it now. There was very little physical contact between the two, most of it was ordinary, straight discussion about things. Mostly was, had to do with how the restaurant was running and things like that. It became a little bit more like, the internment camp changed a little bit of that type of interaction, and became a little more closer because of the whole different situation.

TI: Okay, so we'll get to that later, that's, I just wanted to, yeah, understand how things were before.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Let's talk a little bit about school. After you came back from Japan...

HS: I came, I went to kindergarten, and I was there for, I think I was there when I was five and six, I think it might have been two years of kindergarten or something. It seems to me it was, it wasn't until I was, I was almost seven before I went to, well, in a way, it went, when I was six, when I was six, I was enrolled into, into grade one, but I remember there was only so many seats, there was twenty-four seats or something in this classroom, and I gave, went to school one day, and I was there for a day, couple days, so maybe a week. And then there was this guy, big kid, who must have been about two or three years older than most of the other kids, but he was really dumb, you know. They finally decided, somebody, either their family, insisted that he had to go to school. And so since I was, I was the youngest in the class, he took my seat, so I had to go back to kindergarten. I think that's what happened. So I was almost seven when I went to, to grade one. And Rupert Clap was still there. [Laughs] He was still in grade one.

TI: [Laughs] Still there. I mean, that's... and what was the name of your school, that elementary school?

HS: It was called Borden, Borden Street School, and it was about, it was up on a long, it was, Prince Rupert was built on large hills, so part of the town was up on the, on a big hill, it was all rock, rock hills. We're talking about rock hills with a lot of trees, but still rock. And it rains a lot in Prince Rupert. We're, Prince Rupert was about, although we never, hardly ever saw snow, snow would come maybe a very short time in the wintertime, maybe for about a day or a week, and that was it. And the rest of the time, it was always sort of rain or mist. (...) We had about a hundred inches of rain a year, so if you figure that out, that meant every third day it would rain. [Laughs] And so, and in between it would be cloudy. We didn't see the sun very often.

TI: And a hundred inches, I mean, when it rained, it rained quite a bit.

HS: Oh, well, it rained, sometimes it rained a lot, but then a lot of times it would be like raining a little bit continuously.

TI: Because just as a point of comparison, Seattle, where people think it rains a lot, a hundred inches would be more than twice the rainfall that we get in Seattle.

HS: Oh, yeah. Well, it, where, in Victoria, they get about forty inches of rain. So that's the difference between...

TI: Yeah. So describe your class in terms of, I mean, were there other Japanese in the class?

HS: There were always other Japanese, there were Japanese in every class.

TI: And roughly about, what percentage were Japanese?

HS: Well, there would be only about, in my class, there were only a couple of people, a couple of 'em. I think a couple girls.

TI: So about ten percent, usually?

HS: Huh?

TI: About ten percent of the --

HS: Ten percent, maybe. But they were, it was, the total class, Borden High School, there would be about, of the, of the say about 100, 150 students that were there, there'd be about, maybe about twenty Japanese kids going through all the classes. Be about, yeah, somewhere around 150, maybe about ten percent.

TI: Ten to fifteen percent.

HS: Yeah, ten to fifteen percent. And, you know, it's interesting, in those days, and I went from grade one to grade six at that time, and there was a principal by the name of Miss Mills, she was a Victorian person. You know, she had that, she wore that, she was a spinster, tall, she sort of looked like, looked like your impression of what a witch would look like. Long, big hooked nose, and she had that look about her, thin, scrawny, and, but (...) she was a disciplinarian, but very fair, and very well-liked by all the students. (...) She was never malicious in the way she would approach you. Anyhow, Miss Mills was principal of the school, and the teacher that impressed me the most was a grade three teacher, was a Mrs. McKay. She was, in fact, about the same age as, as our principal, but she was married and had her own, she was much more a gentle-type person. But as a result, probably more personable, whereas Miss Mills was, as I say, she ran the school and she ran it, ran it well, but she had to be, you had to listen to what she said.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: How about your friends in school? Do you remember who those were, your friends?

HS: Oh, there, we had Japanese kids about, there's a whole, there's a whole group of Japanese kids of about four or five that I chummed with, but they were not my close friends. The friends I had there were what we used to call the "Fraser Street gang." Harry, my, partner's son, their family lived on Fraser Street, which was two blocks over, well, one and a half blocks over from where, where our restaurant was. And that street, we had about five to seven of us kids that used to chum around all the time, and even at, and there was, Harry was in another class. He was not in my same class, he was in the same level, but he was on a, in another room. We had two classes of grade one, I think it was, and he was in another, he was in another, another classroom. So anyhow, we, we used to chum around, as well as the fact that we had three or four other white kids and one Chinese kid that became this group that we used to call ourselves the "Fraser Street gang," which was made up of about seven people, seven kids, anywhere from five to seven kids. It would always, it would always vary. There was another Japanese kid called Nakatani, and he would, he was always on the same street as well. And, but, I forgot his first name, Sam, something like that. Anyhow, there were three Japanese kids, there was a Chinese kid, and then three white boys.

TI: And the whites, do you remember what descent they were?

HS: One of 'em was Billy, who was, who was the son of the, the, Danny, the Serb that got killed, and he, he was one of our friends. And he was also in the same class. And then there was, there was two other guys, kids, but I've forgotten who they were.

TI: So your friend whose father was killed, did that happen when...

HS: I was there, yeah.

TI: So how old were you about when that happened?

HS: When that happened, when I was about ten years old.

TI: Okay, so your, so your good friend, you see that happen to your good friend's father.

HS: Yeah, it happened to a good friend's father. We had been friends from grade one, okay, 'cause it was soon afterwards, grade one or grade two, and certainly by grade two and three, we had been together, so I would be, what, seven, eight, nine, so I would be about grade three or four by the time that happened.

TI: Now, I'm curious, it sounded like the Serb, there was a strong Serbian community, there was a strong Japanese community, you were friends. Did, did the two of you ever share or bring each other into that community?

HS: No, we never did. We, Billy, we stayed, he never was in our place or we were never in his place. People that did come over were the Japanese kids, and we had another group of kids that we would know that were, lived near our place, and that was another group of people that we used to chum with.

TI: Now, why do you think that was, that the Japanese never brought in, like, your white friends home, and the white friends never brought you home? Was there ever, what's your, what's your thinking?

HS: Gee, you know, it never occurred to us, we never did, we never did want to go in...

TI: But you would go to your Japanese friends' homes.

HS: No. Well, later on, yes, when I got older, but by then, our Fraser Street gang had pretty well changed, broken up. Billy was, had left, and, because after his father was killed, he, they left Prince Rupert.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: And I'm curious, as you're going through school in these early days, what kind of student were you?

HS: Oh, I was just an average student, I think. I did, you know, I did well in school. As a matter of fact, it was, it was common knowledge that the Japanese kids all did well. They expected you to do well. It was considered that you'd be, you're the top or the top of the class, and certainly the top student in our school was Japanese. But in each class, they expected the Japanese kids to do well, because they said, "Oh, you study too hard," you know, you studied more than other people, and there's no question that at that time, it was considered that if you didn't, weren't in the upper part of the, near the top of the class, that you were slacking. And people would, my mother, certainly one of my, Nishikaze's older, the younger, well, she'd be older than we were, but Judy was not as diligent with her studies as, as her other sisters. So they were always getting after her to pull up her socks, do better here. But that was a common, sort of the, they sort of expected you to do well in school.

TI: So when you said you were kind of average or normal, but you were still at the top of the class?

HS: Oh, yeah, we were average or normal in terms of Japanese guys.

TI: Which meant that you were at the top of the class? [Laughs]

HS: We were at that top, we were at the top, well, near the top of the class, no question. We were just, it's just by chance, I suppose. I don't know if by chance or if, we did do, we did have to do a, there's always a, our mothers always, both Harry and I had to have good marks, or like I say, we'd get it if didn't bring our report card. I mean, in those days, of course, it was always A, B, C and D. D you're failed, C, you're average, B, you're okay, and A, you're doing well. So, so if you didn't get all A's, everybody would, they say, "Oh, you didn't get this A." Mothers were always like that. If you didn't get A's, then you were failing.

TI: So as long as you were a straight-A student, then you were, that was the expectation, straight-A's.

HS: Yeah, expectation, they expected that you get A's. B's you could get, you could get away with a few B's, but C's was considered, well, you're a failure. But you weren't a failure, you're, not until you got to a D. But I know, I happen to have one of my old grade six, grade six report card, and I remember seeing that you have to have, it was mostly A's and B's, but when we got a B, Mama used to say, "Oh, that's not real good, you didn't get an A in that." And we didn't often get A's in English or something like that, because we had trouble. We didn't read books...

TI: But math and science...

HS: Math and science were much better than the average kid because that's where you could study. But there's no, that was your environment. We didn't, my mother didn't read English books, and my father didn't talk to us about any, although he did a lot of reading, but it was all in Japanese.

TI: How about things like art? Were you interested in art back then?

HS: I was interested in art then, yeah. I did a lot of drawing at that time, and when I was in grade six and grade seven, especially when I got into grade seven, I started doing a lot more drawing.

TI: So what inspired you to do that?

HS: Well, we had an art teacher in grade seven, and she taught, she... I forgot what kind of art we were doing, but in those days, it was, a lot of it was copy, you know. Copy, because that was what we were, that's how art was. And we did have an art class, and we had to make cutouts and stuff like that, grade seven. And I still remember that teacher because she was really a beautiful girl, beautiful woman, and we used to think, my, couldn't understand why she was an art teacher. But anyhow, she was the art teacher, and in grade seven, no, as far as physics, physical education, they used to call it physical education in those days, that's, that included everything. Like there was only one type of sport that you'd -- two types of sports, was basketball and soccer. There was hardly any baseball or softball, because the weather didn't allow us to do it that often. It was, often it would be raining. But soccer you could play anytime, whether it rained or when it was misty. And basketball, but you had to have a basketball court, which was pretty hard to come by. So it was mainly soccer, as kids we had to play, as far as sports were concerned.

TI: So I'm curious, if you were to ask, like, the Fraser Street gang or your other classmates or your teachers to kind of describe how you were, what Henry was like, what would they say? What were some of the words, or how would they describe you?

HS: I would say, think that we were, that I was a diligent student, and I've forgotten the terminology. I was a good, as they say, a good student. I can remember the comments that would be, that ended up as a good student.

TI: How about the Fraser Street gang? What would they say?

HS: The general? They would be generally a whole group. As a group --

TI: No, not as a group, what would they say about you? Some of your friends.

HS: Oh, I was, I was kind of one of the leaders. It was Harry and I, we would, we would decide what we would be doing. It was usually Harry and I, we would build forts and things like that, it was usually either Harry or myself that would, that would start the thing going about building this or building that, and we would do that. And then the rest of the guys would... I have a feeling that we might have been, well, Billy would always follow us, and he was always, but he was always, he was a follower, he would follow us, our lead, both of us. And there was only, then there was, like I say, the Chinese kid, I've forgotten how he, he was younger, about a year younger than we were, and he would, he would willingly work with us on that, whatever we decided. But the, and then there was the other two, and I don't remember who they were. And the other Japanese kid was the younger, he was about a year younger than we were.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: Okay, so we're going to get going and start the, the third hour.

HS: Okay, third hour.

TI: And so Henry, so we covered a lot of your activities prewar. I could probably do another two hours just on prewar, but I'm going to move forward and get to the outbreak of the war. So, so think back to Sunday, December 7, 1941, and tell me how you heard about the war.

HS: Well, December the 7th, 1941, I, I was then... let's see, I was, I just turned thirteen, 'cause I had, my birthday's on the end of November. Well, I heard about the war, mainly that day, in fact, that evening, because of, like I say, we always had supper together. And of course, that's when they told us that Japan was at war with the United States. And in fact, within a very short time, we heard that the government of Canada in the parliament, which was in session at the time, they immediately declared war on Japan. In actual fact, it turned out that Canada had declared war quicker than the United States, because the United States had yet to make the formal declaration. It had to, I don't know what the process is, but Canada had, already had been at war for, since 1939, so to include Japan into that, into that war, against what they called the Axis was not a big jump. It was just adding another name. And for, as far as they were concerned, they had no idea about what was going on in Japan in Canada.

TI: But going back to that, that supper, so you came home and you were sitting around the table, so how did you hear about it?

HS: I think, I think my parents talked about it, my mother, and said that war has begun, that was it.

TI: So do you recall what she said, how she said it?

HS: I can't remember how they said it. And, you know, the thing is, it might have been one of our older girls who heard about it first and told us. Because we, we were listening, after that, we were listening to the radio, and of course, more stuff came up as, as we listened to the radio. Because it wasn't immediate, a lot of the stuff that was coming up that they knew what the situation, what it meant. The fact that the Pearl Harbor had been attacked didn't translate directly into a war. Next day, the parliament in Ottawa had declared war, and it could be done. Canada had this, what they called War Measures Act, where they could take emergency action immediately, and that was, that War Measures Act was something that was there, present in Canada at that time, and it was used in times of emergency. And it was already in effect, because Canada had already been in war with Germany and Italy at that time, and this was just, like I say, adding another name to it and saying, "Yes, we're going to go to war against those people because they have attacked our allies."

TI: So Canada was able to --

HS: 'Cause it attacked Hong Kong at the same time as, as Pearl Harbor. Within, within a day, they were attacking Hong Kong.

TI: Right. So, but going back to kind of -- I realize you were young, you were thirteen, but what was your reaction? What were you thinking when you heard...

HS: I didn't think anything of it myself at the time. It didn't, it didn't mean... immediately, it did not register in me that there was that big a change. I mean, we had been at war already, it was, maybe the war had extended but it didn't, I knew that it would mean it was... my brother -- not my brother, but my uncle in Japan was a soldier. He was an officer in the Japanese Imperial Army at that time, and I knew about him being there, so I knew that that would mean he was going to be fighting against the allies, which included Canada and now the United States was joining the allies. It wasn't like it was, like immediately I knew all what it meant. I didn't know all, in all the little bits and pieces of what was happening. I didn't even know what effect it would have on me at that time. I knew it was a, I think --

TI: How about the older people? Did they, did you see a reaction from them? Did they...

HS: Well, they didn't, well, they probably did, but you know, they didn't talk about it in front of us, about what was, what this all meant. My father kept, didn't even tell me that immediately after that, he obviously thought this is going to be problems for the Japanese community, and he actually put the restaurant up for sale in the newspaper, and it wasn't 'til about two or three weeks later that somebody said to me, "Oh, you're selling your restaurant?" I said, "What do you mean we're selling the restaurant?" This is around Christmastime. And I said, "Why would we? We wouldn't sell our restaurant." And they said, "Oh, yeah, you're selling your restaurant."

TI: This is interesting. So your father anticipated something was going to happen, so...

HS: When it happened, yeah. When that happened, he immediately thought, well, he's gotta do something about this.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

TI: Well, I'm curious, so the, after December 7th, when you went back out into the, the larger --

HS: Larger community, yeah.

TI: -- community like school and things like that, were there any comments or reactions from other people about --

HS: I was in grade seven at the time. I can't remember much about what they, people said to me about it. Because we were, at that time, I was in grade seven, and a lot of the kids just, although they knew I was different, never expressed to me that the difference meant that I was the enemy at that time. They didn't say anything to me, from what I remember. That was Christmastime, and we were still going to school. And in fact, that year, these same things went on the school. I still remember our high school teacher was a, the principal of the high school, or the, we were in grade seven, so it was junior high, but it, junior high at that time was called Booth Memorial High School, and it included seven to twelve. So on that week, about... so we were going to school, just continued on, nothing happened at school, we were still there. And at, just before Christmas, he would go, the principal, Mr. O'Neil, would go from class to class, and I still remember this happening, and it was kind of a tradition at that time that Mr. O'Neil would go from class to class and greet the kids to wish 'em Merry Christmas. The other thing he would do, his, his forte at that time was the poem called Lady of the Lake. Now, Lady of the Lake was written by, I think it was (Walter Scott). And Lady of the Lake, he would, he would go there and he would say to the class, say, "Okay, somebody give me, somebody give me a line from Lady of the Lake." And we'd all be sitting there, open the book, look at, and then somebody would shout out one line, and he would pick it up from there and continue on. That was, the fact that he memorized Lady of the Lake, which is a poem that goes on for how many pages, I don't know. That was, he, he prided himself on the fact that he knew that poem inside and out, so that you could give him one cue, and he would go, continue on. That happened that winter, that was that December.

Well, things got probably -- I don't remember so much after that, but in, by January, especially after that Hong Kong had fallen, Hong Kong fell in November 24th -- December 24th. Day, either day before Christmas or Christmas Day. And when that happened, that really -- and there was a lot of Canadian solders that were sent there to try to defend Hong Kong. And so it became big news in terms of Canadians, and it reflected on us. And at that, from that point on, I think there was more, I think we would call haiseki, you know, people looking at you and saying that, "You Japs are enemy," sort of idea. And in fact, within a month of that time, so that would be January, by the end of January, there were things in the paper about getting rid of the enemy, like they say, "the enemy within us." And that was that, started to come out.

TI: And how did this affect -- especially after the fall of Hong Kong -- how did this affect your family's business? Was there a change?

HS: Well, family business, it continued on. We seemed to be going reasonably well. I don't know how many, my papa would have been more, I didn't talk to him a lot about how, how they affected the business, but the main thing that happened was the fact that when this guy pointed out that there was an advertisement in the newspaper which was, went on for a number of days, saying that the New Dominion Cafe was for sale. And anybody interested sort of thing, apply. And Papa... and I said, "Oh, that couldn't be." But then this guy brought out the newspaper and said, "Here it says that your, that the New Dominion Cafe is for sale." So I thought, gee, and I asked my dad, and he says, you know, "Don't worry about that. It's none of your business." So that's the last I heard about that. Eventually, I heard that he rented the restaurant, and in fact, he rented it to the Gurevichs, and told them to run it.

TI: Because he wasn't able, in that time period, to sell it?

HS: No, he wasn't able to sell it.

TI: So you're saying that after, especially after the fall of Hong Kong, you started seeing things like the --

HS: More, it was more, it became more -- see, before that, there still, people still had an idea that things would be straightened out, it'll all be. The war was in Europe, not in the Pacific.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

TI: So were there very many, or any government restrictions on Japanese in Prince Rupert, or, or with the fishing fleet?

HS: Well, that started happening in January. Especially after Hong Kong, then I think they got a lot more agitation, agitated, and they thought something has to be... they started then, at that point, and I know, I'm sure it was probably true in the United States, that the military and the navy especially, thought the Japanese fishermen could be spies. I mean, they never did accuse anybody of being spies, but they said they could be a "fifth column," and that was the term that was very prevalent at that time, the idea of a fifth column being in the country. And that, that came from Hemingway's idea that there was another enemy within. And so they did that business of going around and checking up on all the Japanese fishermen, and eventually, by that time, by January, I think it was, in January, they ordered all Japanese fishermen to bring their boats down to the -- bring 'em in, they prevented them, they prohibited, first thing, they prohibited that they could not fish. That was the first thing. Then they brought, brought, told them all to gather in Prince Rupert harbor, and these boats were then told that they would have to travel down the West Coast and take their boats to the Fraser Valley. That's the, that's a journey with these small little boats, these putt-putt boats, that would take almost a week. 'Cause it, how far could they go? They could only go by day, and when the weather was good. So they did, took all the boats, took 'em down to the Fraser Valley, and all these boats were tied up on the, the delta, right on Fraser, in the Fraser River. It was a great, and there is a famous picture of all these Japanese fishing boats stretching on for, way into the distance, all tied up to each other in kind of a big v-shape. That these boats were there until they, they were sold. A lot of them were sold, about, in about two or three years' time.

TI: In addition to doing the fishing fleet, were there, did the, did the Mounties pick up any, like, community leaders or anything like that?

HS: They did, they had a few what they called Japanese nationals, people who did not have Canadian citizenship. They began picking them up, I think, either in late December, early January, because they were considered citizens in Japan, and now they were at war with Japan, these people were, would become, in a way, prisoners of war.

TI: Well, when you say "Japanese nationals," now, your parents...

HS: They were not, most of them were, most of the Japanese, most of the Japanese that came, that were in Prince Rupert, most of 'em were, had taken out citizenship.

TI: Oh, so your parents had taken out Canadian citizenship.

HS: Oh, yeah. That was before, see, that was way back in the '20s.

TI: Okay, so they had citizenship, so it was, so the... okay, so they could pick up people who had not applied.

HS: Uh-huh. What they called Japanese nationals, they, apparently they had, I get the, this has been going on, this has been ongoing for the six months prior to World War, before Pearl Harbor. During 1941, the Mounties had been quietly making up a list of what they called Japanese nationals, because already the -- and they knew who they were because they had to register. And then, then we, during that period, we had to register, by the way, in, in... when did that happen? That happened in December, late January of 1942, we had to register.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

TI: And so, so I'm thinking, so as this is happening, what's the mood of the Japanese Canadian community when this is going on?

HS: Well, they were very, well, of course, they were worried about what was going to happen. But there was, everybody had ideas of what, and Papa was saying, "Oh, nothing's going to happen." He was pretty adamant, although he was already making preparations for possibility by trying to get rid of the, the restaurant, 'cause he thought, this'll not do, it won't go.

TI: But what were some of the rumors going around?

HS: Oh, rumors, well, the rumors were that nothing would happen. And also, second thing was that they would shoot us all and things like that. People, some people get really, really hysterical about what they think. The other thing was, of course, that they would be, we would have to be taken away somewhere, sent back to Japan, something of that nature. That's, that's generally, the idea was that we may have to go back to Japan, but we would, anywhere, there was this rumor that we would have to leave somehow, leave Prince Rupert. And in fact, incidentally, Tom Shoyama, just about that time, the newspaper they had, he had was The New Canadian. And The New Canadian was immediately, in December, right after the war, soon after, was shut down. But then they came to them and they said they want some information, they want the Japanese people to know. "You have a running newspaper, can you inform Japanese people that they have to register?" So that's in January, they said they have to go and register. Well, he says, "I can't unless I, unless I have a newspaper to send out." And then he said, "Not only that, I have to have, be able to write" -- see, they didn't like the idea of him writing a newspaper that had English and Japanese in it, because Japanese was foreign to them, and they said this was code. "You could, you could tell people to do things without knowledge of, of the authorities." "Well," he says, "I can't write a, unless you give me information, I can't write a, just a blanket statement saying you have to register, you have to give 'em a reason why this was being done." It's a part of the, part of the, as a matter of fact, they were using the War Measures Act to do this. Anyhow, they said, "Okay, we'll give you, we'll give you the, the permission to go back and produce your newspaper." So they allowed him to put the newspaper back out.

TI: So that's how information got out to the community.

HS: Yeah, community had, so then he got the information out to the community saying that we had to register, and so we get the New, got The New Canadian, too. And in it he had an editorial, and in it he discussed what is going to happen, what's going to happen. And his, his discussion about this -- and I still remember him saying -- he said he did think that we may have to, we may have to lay low for the remainder of the war, but in knowing, he says, but knowing that the Canadian government is following the British example, he believed that they would, they would follow the British tradition of fair play. He said we would be treated fairly. And so he, he was, whether or not he believed this or not, he, anyhow, this is what he wrote in his editorial for people to read. And eventually, that newspaper continued on during the whole war, because they had to have some method of communicating with the Japanese citizens, and Tom pointed out to the RCMP, he said, "You know, at least fifty percent of the Japanese on the West Coast do not read English. I'd have to write it in Japanese." So they said, "Okay, well, I guess if you have to, go ahead." And then, so then on top of that, he says, "You know, our newspaper system is completely, we can't even do anything with the newspaper because we have no money. Our whole subscription thing is disappeared because of the, because nobody has the money to buy a newspaper anymore. You destroyed their livelihood." So the RCMP says, "Okay, we'll pay you to run the newspaper."

TI: So at this point, I mean, did the community, how did the community perceive The New Canadian during this period? Did they view it as an independent newspaper still, or did they view it as more --

HS: No, well, they always felt that he, I think a lot of the Issei felt that, that Tom was playing into the hands of the enemy, as they say.

TI: Oh, so sort of being used by the...

HS: Yeah, used by the authorities.

TI: the government, and just sort of, in some ways, perhaps...

HS: Being a, being a traitor to the, to the community.

TI: And that some of it was propaganda from --

HS: And I think, and I think Tom had to withstand a lot of that criticism, although his feeling was he's doing it because people have to know what's going on, and if they don't, if he shuts up, then who's going to tell them, because the English press wasn't going to. They, they didn't want to have anything to do with -- and then on top of that, like he pointed out, a good portion of the Japanese population didn't speak English.

TI: Yeah, but for him to come out with an editorial about this fair play, and then, and then as events happened, I would imagine that would probably damage his credibility in the community.

HS: Oh, yeah. I mean, he was, his credibility was damaged because of that, no question. But he, he really honestly believed that they, knowing the parliamentary system and the way people... the whole, the whole, sort of the premise of Canada was on their, when they formed the country, they, according to his estimation, is that the Canadian government -- it's not like the Constitution of the United States. You know, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that sort of thing. It's peace, order and good government. That's what their premise of the government, of the country was supposed to be. Peace first, good order, and good government. [Laughs] Nothing else. There's nothing about individual freedoms and things of this, that was the premise of the, of the Canadian government.

TI: So it was more of a focus on the common good.

HS: Common good. More focused on keeping order, keeping things, you know... and so as a result, there's nothing about individual liberties or rights. That's, that's one of the major difference between the government of the United States and the government of Canada.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: So let's talk about the events that started unfolding sort of in the February/March timeframe.

HS: Well, in February, of course, that was when an exact date, I think, was about February 28 or something, but I'd have to go back to... but certainly late February, the government in Ottawa, which is the federal government, under Mackenzie King, had in his cabinet -- his cabinet was made up of people from all across Canada, of course. But he happened to have three fairly powerful cabinet ministers that were pretty anti-Japanese in terms of their, their feelings to begin with. But on top of that, they were very, they were very much white supremacy-type ideas. And B.C. had always been like that. They had denied the vote to, to anybody who was even Canadian-born, even Japanese. In fact, everybody who was, who was from the, from Asia, who was Canadian-born, was not given the same privilege as anybody who was white that was Canadian-born, but did not come from, even an Italian or German. If they were Canadian-born, still was a Canadian in their eyes. The reason being, there was, there'd been a lot of problems with Orientals, what they considered in the broad term, "Orientals," in the labor market, and agitation from people from B.C., mainly British Columbia. Because that's where they, the major part of the Asian population was in Canada at the time. And as a result, they caused, their presence caused many of the whites to view them with a great deal of suspicion, especially Chinese and Japanese, which they called at that time -- and that came, actually, from Los Angeles, the Hearst, the Hearst chain that said the "yellow peril" that was taking over the West Coast. That came way before World War, before Pearl Harbor. But that affected us as well.

TI: So you had these powerful cabinet ministers who were, were sort of anti-Japanese. I mean, from a community standpoint, how much were you aware of these, these things? I guess from your perspective, what was going on in this timeframe?

HS: Yeah, we had no idea, of course, what was going on. Because the thing about this was the cabinet could do what they, make decisions on their own without calling parliament, and it would not get in the newspaper. It was called Order in Council. By doing, and this is under the War Measures Act, they were given the privilege of making decisions that were considered emergency decisions. And this is, this whole idea, that this idea of registering Japanese as, as "enemy aliens," for instance, registering them as "enemy aliens," yet, like, they gave us, all of us that were Canadian-born, they did recognize that you were Canadian-born, but you were still not a citizen, you were an enemy, you were an alien. And then, so that you were an "enemy alien" when you were, because you were, your ancestry was in Japan. That idea pervaded a lot of the thinking of people in, in the West Coast. And in fact, in Victoria alone they had two rallies where they, where they, a couple of agitators put on big, big rallies to get the government in Ottawa that was sitting on its hands, to do something about this "enemy that was within us," and that was, they were, of course, pointing their fingers at Japanese.

TI: Were there similar things happening in Prince Rupert?

HS: Nothing that happened in Prince Rupert. Nothing like that happened. It happened to be in Victoria, mainly because of two reasons. There was quite a lot of the old-time British influence, the jingo, the British empire and how it, it was the leaders of the world, and they knew what was right for the world, they knew that, that this "yellow peril" was diluting what you might call the white supremacy that was going on. They were trying -- and there's no question because they were quite, the fishermen's association was then, people like that were very, very much concerned about the effect of Japanese fishermen. The market gardeners were, were being harassed by various grocery or food grower groups that began realizing that this might be a time to get rid of these people who are taking over our, our... they thought we were taking over their country, but we were, of course, just the West Coast, but they were, we were economically getting pretty powerful.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: Okay, so let's go back now to Prince Rupert. When did things start happening? I mean, when did you first hear this --

HS: It happened, it happened February.

TI: And what did you hear? I mean, what happened?

HS: By, by February it happened, by February they just, Order in Council was done where decided that they would, they decided to remove all people of Japanese ancestry (...) within a hundred miles of the West Coast. People of Japanese ancestry could not be closer than a hundred miles from the West Coast line.

TI: How did the Japanese community find out about this?

HS: That came out, it came out mainly through The New Canadian, because they had to -- and, of course, they put up public notices all over.

TI: And how long did the community have to, to react to this?

HS: Well, they just, there was no, there was no, nothing said, other than that. Next thing you know, then they decide -- then it would have to, then after that, then they said, well, they would, you wouldn't, you were not allowed to be a hundred miles within the West Coast, well, we're all on the West Coast. Nine-nine percent of Japanese people in the West Coast were within a few miles of the coastline. So that meant, basically, all of them had to somehow get out of there.

TI: So at this point, what did your parents or your dad do with...

HS: Well, at that point, he decided he didn't, he couldn't sell his business, so he decided he would go and talk to the Gurevichs about maybe they would be willing to rent his place and pay him rent to use it.

TI: So explain to me who the Gurevichs were.

HS: Those were, the Gurevichs were the, were the people that owned the taxi, remember? And then their son was the one that was killed by the, by the RCMP.

TI: And so they were, like, friends, was he a friend of your father?

HS: They weren't, they weren't particularly friends, we didn't, my dad didn't socialize, but he, he sort of felt that they were probably more sympathetic because they already had their run-in with the government, but he also knew them. He knew them 'cause he had -- and so he approached them about renting, and they agreed to take over the restaurant and run the restaurant and pay rent. And that was the idea. So he thought he had that settled. Now, when the order came for us to leave the West Coast...

TI: And about when was that? When did you leave?

HS: That happened in March. And in actual, when in March is I can't, I can't tell you how the word came to us, but the word obviously came to the, my parents, and it may have been people going, no, the RCMP coming to visit us and saying to them, "You have to leave, and there's a train being arranged for you on the 23rd of March." We didn't have any idea of this happening, except my mother told us we have to get ready to leave.

TI: And what did that mean, getting ready to leave?

HS: Well, we were all given, we had to pack a suitcase each. So every child was given -- I think each child was given fifty pounds, and that was, fifty pounds, and each adult, I think, was seventy-five pounds, and each family was given another allotment, was 150 pounds. So it depended, so everybody, every family would be in the neighborhood of about three or four hundred pounds of material that you could take with you.

TI: So what did you pack in your fifty pounds?

HS: Well, mostly clothes. Mostly clothes. I took, I think I took a few toys that I wanted to put into my -- but we were given, my mother got some suitcases, old suitcases, and she said, "Put this in," she had some old suitcases. And then she packed everything else and put it in storage in the, in the storage room. We had a storage room in the hotel, and she put everything else in there. And dishes, everything. And, but of course, the restaurant dishes and pots and pans were left just like that, because my father rented the restaurant out to Gurevichs.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

TI: And how about the rest of the community? What were they doing in terms of storing stuff?

HS: They did the same, basically the same thing. They took what they felt was most important, and then they had to store whatever else that, whatever else they had in, either with, to neighbors, some of them gave 'em to neighbors, some of them gave to, to, put it into storage areas that they, now, that would be garages and things that they could put, put their stuff in. They couldn't, for instance, the first thing they did was in January, we were told that we couldn't have any cars, any radios, it was forbidden for Japanese people to have cars, radios, and firearms.

TI: Now, why cars? I understand the firearms and the...

HS: I don't, well, I don't understand that either, but they decided that that was... and boats, of course. That came into that whole line of the idea that they didn't want, they wanted to take us out of the business of... so there was a lot of economics involved. They wanted --

TI: And especially for the people who were doing the farming.

HS: Farming, that's right.

TI: I imagine without, without transportation.

HS: Without trucks, that would, that would pretty well knock out your market gardening. See, there was a, it was, decisions were being made in the cabinet, and you can just imagine these guys sitting around and they say, "Well, if we're gonna take 'em out, if they're at war, they're the enemy, they shouldn't be allowed to have cars." And they debate that for a while, and, "Why?" "Well, because they could use them as ways of getting information to the Japanese, they could be spies." Boats, especially the boats was the idea that they would be spies. They knew the coastline, and they would be spies for the Japanese navy. And in fact, they began accusing a number of people saying they were actually secretly members of the Japanese navy that were here in Canada. It never, none of this, of course, was true.

TI: Yeah, these were just kind of the wild rumors that...

HS: Wild rumors that they would, people would bring out, and as a result, people believed them.

TI: Now, while you were packing, was it told to you where you were gonna go?

HS: No, we had no idea what was gonna -- see, the whole thing was, Order in Council, if you understand what these guys do, they make a decision that they're gonna take 'em out, how do you get rid of the Japanese from the West Coast? They're potential saboteurs. They're also the enemy. They're also, possibly can blow up our installations, they could, they could spy, they could be spies. What do you do? Well, what you say is, "Okay, all of them, anybody of Japanese ancestry has to be taken away from the West Coast at least one hundred miles from the, the West Coast area." So that will negate all attempts of these people to become a threat to the welfare of the country, sort of thing. Okay, so they say, "Fine, we'll do that." They put out the proclamation, they told the Mounties, "This is what has to happen, look after it."

TI: So the Mounties just had to figure this out.

HS: The Mounties have to figure it out. How do they do it, well, they make proclamations, and they tell to, they talk to Tom Shoyama, "Get this out in the newspapers," they put, they put proclamations up all over, signs, proclamations that go all over the place and stack 'em up. First the men, they said that the men were the most important, men are "enemy aliens." Men over eighteen, people over eighteen, men, are potential, these are the ones that you have to get rid of first. So they round 'em up and took them to, take 'em to, "Well, we're gonna take them into work camps," that they can help build the roads in B.C.

TI: So they --

HS: But you got to get 'em out of the West Coast.

TI: So this kind of first wave was of the men.

HS: First wave of removal.

TI: And this was in March?

HS: This was, no, that was earlier, it was in, probably by February or early, by February or early March.

TI: So that was your father, then?

HS: My father didn't, no, he was, he was considered too old. He didn't go right away there. He didn't go until just before we left, but he had gone. They rounded up people, and they said they had to go. So he went to a work camp, too. And at that time, there was a whole group of young Niseis. You know, they were eighteen, and they'd be in eighteen to their twenties, that were actually to put -- where would they go? Well, the first thing they had to do was put them someplace that they could then, they had to take 'em from one spot, a manning depot as they would consider it, like taking everybody to one spot, and then there, they were ready to go on trains and go east to the work camps. They were in, put into, housed in Vancouver, in the immigration building in Vancouver, and they, they bolted the doors, or they somehow got over there and they, they put barriers on the doors and whatnot, and they, they said, "We're not going to whatever you say, because we're Canadians. We were born in Canada."

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 27>

TI: So these guys, before we go there, I want to talk more about your, your experiences. So eventually it was your turn to go.

HS: Yeah.

TI: And I want you to just describe what that day was like.

HS: It was a, it was March the 23rd or 24th, and it was like, it was just an ordinary dull day in Prince Rupert. And we were told that, my mother, obviously, was told that trucks would come and they would pick up all our luggage and ourselves, we were driven, driven to the train station and then we're gonna be shipped south to Vancouver. By this time, they had decided that we would be all housed in the Hastings Park exhibition grounds. Now, Hastings Park is in the north side of --

TI: I want to go there, but I want to still talk about Prince Rupert. So on that day, you're going to the train station, and so all the Japanese are now...

HS: Are being gathered down there. All the Japanese from Prince Rupert plus a number of the Japanese from the various, various little villages or what you call settlements along the West Coast. Six hundred plus were, mainly women and kids, because most of the men had been sent off -- except for older men. I forgot, but we had some older men, no question there was men there, too, and there were some young men, too, still. But most of them were being, had gone to the work camps, so what was left was the six hundred involved men, women and children, and some older people.

TI: What was the mood like when the six hundred of you were...

HS: Well, we were, you know, in a way, we didn't know what was happening. Myself, I know I came, went down to, we went down to the station, and when I got down there, my grade seven teacher and a number of her students were down there. And they had come to see me off, 'cause they knew that this was happening. And so after all, when you consider the ten percent or more of the students in that class were suddenly told that they're going to have to leave, and we were, we had been in school the day before, next day we're going.

TI: So were you expecting to see your teacher and students there?

HS: No, I hadn't expected to see them, but they were down there to see me, see us off, and certainly they said, well, I still remember this one girl saying, "Where are you guys going?" And I said, "Well, I don't know where we're going." I didn't have any idea where these trains were taking us. We, all we knew was we were getting on the train, and we were going south. I didn't know at that time that we were going to Vancouver, but as time goes on, of course, we're going further south, everybody realized we're going. And then the parents knew, but they didn't say anything about that to us.

TI: Well, how did it make you feel to see your teacher and classmates come see you off?

HS: Well, I was, I really didn't know. I wasn't all that, I wasn't really emotionally depressed about the whole situation. One thing was, in a way, now, I think back, and I think that, I kind of was thinking secretly, "Boy, I'm getting out of Prince Rupert. Isn't it a great thing?" [Laughs] 'Cause the rain and the, and the dismal weather was something that always kind of (depressing). We had spent one summer in Vancouver as a kid, we were sent down there. About two or three years before, we were sent down there, and we thought, "God, wouldn't it be lovely to live down here?" because it was perpetual sunshine. Well, it wasn't perpetual sun, we just thought it was. It happened to be, it happened to be a nice summer. Anyhow, so although we were, in a way, I was, I remember seeing these students that I knew, I was sad in a way of leaving them, but it was like I was going on a holiday, or I was leaving for a vacation or something. So it didn't strike me as, that this was it, this was the last time I'd ever see them again. I still thought somehow, there was this thing that we're gonna be going away for maybe a short time, we should be back within, within six months or more. We'll be back.

TI: So you didn't realize that you were actually saying goodbye to these people.

HS: Yeah. Oh, no, I didn't. But we were, I know that we were told that this was not permanent, and I think that was another reason. Like there were people I know that were in, for instance, Salt Spring Island is right now having a big discussion about what happened. Salt Spring Island is sort of like Bainbridge Island, it's right off, off the coast of... and a big Japanese population there. And this one family being packed up, and they were sent to the same place, the exhibition grounds, where we were. And the mother is saying, said that they, the Mounties had come and said, "Well, you guys gotta leave, this is the order from the government. Don't worry, don't worry, you'll be back, so don't, don't worry about it. You can just walk out, you don't even have to lock your doors. Leave everything as is, we'll look after it, you guys go." She said, "That's what I was told." Of course, that was (not the truth).

<End Segment 27> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 28>

TI: Do you think the community was intentionally being deceived, or do you think that was just what people thought at that time?

HS: Well, people thought, but on top of that, I have a feeling also that, that the decision was made that they'd have to be out of the coast. Nobody had thought beyond that. You get them out, that was it. Get them out. But what was to happen to them? No one said, said to the Mounties, more or less, "You look after them." Because when that discussion came up, the commissioner of the Mounties at that time, had said to the people, and the military had said, "Listen, this is a foolish idea. There's no threat of this group on the West Coast." There's no, it's a conceived threat, but as far as the navy and army was concerned, there was no threat. They didn't believe that this would, that they were going to cause any trouble. So they didn't think it was going to happen that there was any happen. And the RCMP said they didn't think we should do this. So this was actually done at a meeting in, it actually occurred in, I think the meeting occurred probably in Vancouver, and this is the, and this is the quotes from a General Pope, who was the commander of the Western section of the army, and Commissioner Meade, who was the commissioner of the RCMP. And they said, "Don't do this, because it is not necessary." We know, and the RCMP said, "We know who are the nationals and we know who are, what people might be potentially dangerous, and we will," and he said, "we could round up all of them and it would be about thirty-nine, forty people, and that's all we would think that would be a problem. The rest, I don't think you have to worry about."

TI: Well, so when you talk about the rest, so you have about six hundred in Prince Rupert --

HS: No, we're talking about 22,000 on the West Coast.

TI: Right. But the, so this was being undertaken by the RCMP?

HS: Yeah. The RCMP had to do it.

TI: And were they, were they armed when they were there?

HS: Well, they all carried sidearms.

TI: Were they there in large presence, or were they kind of more in the background?

HS: No, they were more in the background. We had, we had how many RCMP that came down to the station, probably about six.

TI: So you didn't feel like you were prisoners in any way, you were just being escorted to...

HS: We were escorted out and told, and told that, where we were supposed to go, and so we did. We got on the train, and the next thing you know, we're gone.

<End Segment 28> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 29>

TI: Okay, so describe your... you're now going to Vancouver.

HS: Yeah, we went down to Vancouver. It was a, it was, it was, to me, it was an adventure. You know, we're on this train, first time that we've been... this is the first time I've ever been on a train. And so we, we did all kinds of stupid things as kids. We, we opened the, everybody tried to open windows, first thing we... because it was hot in the, in the cars. So we had our window open, and we were leaning out of the windows, getting the fresh air, and going down the train. And I still remember looking at Harry, and his face was black from the cinders that was coming out. [Laughs] I said, "Your face is black," because he looked at me and says, "You are, too." And I had no idea that I, we had been, we had been hanging out there thinking that this is a wonderful feeling to have this wind in your hair sort of idea. And here we were, we were completely blackened with the, with the cinders that were coming from the, from the locomotive. Because these were still steam, coal-driven steam engines. They were not diesels at that time. But we had no idea that this was happening to us. Anyhow, we go down, and the thing was, there was a food cart, and that seemed to feed these people. I still remember they fed us stew. And what they did was they got... I don't know who made the stew, whether or not some of the Japanese mothers or whatnot were told that they would have to come here, "Here's the stuff, make stew for everybody," or whether they had hired cooks to, and had a special car. They did have a special car where they did the cooking, they had cooked. And our, our train was, I don't know, fifteen, twenty cars.

And it took us, it took us two days to get down to, to Vancouver. And once you get into Vancouver, it took us, the thing about it is the train could go directly into Hastings Park. Because Hastings Park was, was a park where they needed, the trains had to bring in the things for their big livestock shows and all kinds of things that would happen. So the train came right into Hastings Park, we came off the train, we were already in the park. But the other thing that Hastings Park had, because it was a livestock area that they would use, they had a linked, chain-link fence, and the fence went all the way around the, the perimeter of this Hastings Park exhibition grounds. The grounds had, had a fence, so that was ideal for placing people in that they didn't, that they want to control.

TI: So when you got off the train at Hastings Park, what did you see?

HS: Just, it was just a big, it's a big grassy area with buildings here and there, and all these buildings, one was for livestock, one was for displays...

TI: At that point, were there very many people there?

HS: A few people were already there.

TI: So you were one of the first groups.

HS: We were one of the first, yeah. Prince Rupert people were, being the furthest away, we probably, they started us probably first. But we, by the time we got there, we were not the first to disembark. It was other people that already arrived by a little bit closer by, like people from Salt Spring, 'cause they just had to go, bring 'em by truck. Go across the, across the ferry and bring 'em directly to the, to the park. So they might have (come) in the day before.

TI: So how did they get you organized in terms of sleeping quarters and all that?

HS: Well, all, they had already made that. They had put workmen in all the big buildings, what they had done, they had big floors on these buildings. Big display, exhibition. All the stalls, animal stalls, they had put families in each one, so the stalls were used. And then my mother, I remember they had, and Mrs. Nishikaze, we had to clean out the stalls, because although they hosed them down, they hadn't really cleaned them perfectly, so they were still dirty stalls. And so they had to clean all these out. Then what they did was we were given, the bed, the men's, I was thirteen years old, so I was designated to the men's dormitory. And the men's dormitory was older people plus young, young boys. People under eighteen. And there were also a number of other people, too, that were in-between -- there were, not all the men were taken to the camps for some reason. My father actually, I think my father was... I believe he was there. He came with us. I can't remember, 'cause we were separated on the train. We were somehow, we were, he was in another part of the train. But my mother, I know, we were, we had a family. And then my father and Mr. Nishikaze were in that building that we were there in this, in this Hastings Park, but he was definitely there, and so was Mr. Nishikaze. It might be possible that they, they might have gone earlier. That may have been the reason why they were not on the train and I don't remember. But they had had gone down there, and they had built, they had done all the initial building of these double, double bunk, double bunk beds. All they had done was just, and they put springs in the middle, and they put the double, they make the double beds. And the whole, four of 'em that was there filled. It was, it was a skating rink that was completely filled with all these double bunks.

TI: So in the men's dorm, it was just a large room with double bunks.

HS: Oh, large room with all these, all these bunks.

TI: Hundreds of men sleeping --

HS: Hundreds of men. And then they had made, they had made... they adapted or changed the washroom area, and they made it into a great big washroom area, big sluice area where you, where they had made it for a urinal, possible urinal and everything else, toilet, and they just, the water just came shooting down there and just cleaned everything up. The flushing system was all done in one fell swoop. And it was, and then they had, on one, another side they had put all kinds of washbasins for you to wash with there. And that was the men's dormitory. Same thing was done, and they changed the, they did add, like, toilets and stuff to the, to the livestock areas, but they, all the plumbing was already in there because you know how these things are done. The central area you have a big open area, then you have, for livestock, they had put all these livestock stalls, and above the stalls they had a ring of seats, benches, that they used as, for people, the audience. Well, those benches were still there, and those, and people, some of them, they did was, some of those places was just, they put barriers in between and made that into a, a little area for a family to live. And, 'cause it was mainly to sleep there, and to, those were, each family was given that, and people, I know my mother made a curtain from material they had brought with 'em, and put a curtain up for privacy, each, each stall.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 30>

TI: Today is Wednesday, July 26th, and we're starting the second day of interviews with Henry. And yesterday, we, we talked about your, sort of your early childhood life, a little bit about your family, and then we had just gotten into the, the wartime era. And where we left off was you had gotten us to, to Hastings Park, Vancouver.

HS: Yes.

TI: And you had just described the, sort of some of the...

HS: The setup.

TI: The sleeping conditions, where they slept.

HS: Yeah, sleeping conditions, that's right.

TI: But, so let's pick it up from there, and maybe, as a first question, I'm thinking, you had been in Prince Rupert, and there had, there had been a sizeable Japanese community.

HS: Oh, yes.

TI: But now, down at Hastings Park, where there were Japanese from Vancouver and Salt Spring...

HS: And from all, yeah, from all the different areas outside of Vancouver. Vancouver people, the people that were living in Vancouver, the Japanese Canadians there, were left alone, until they were given the notice that they had to get out of the city and go such... so they just stayed at their present abode. But anybody, the people, Japanese Canadians that were outside Vancouver and the lower mainland, people that they couldn't contact easily, were brought into Hastings Park so they could, in a way, it was a way to get control of the situation. As I had mentioned before, a lot of this was being done ad hoc. Everything was being, they were learning as they, the Mounties were learning what to do as they went along.

TI: And approximately how many people were, were in Hastings Park?

HS: Well, at one, at one time, there would be, there could be as many as two or three thousand people in there, in Hastings Park. But there was a limit to how many you could put in there, but Vancouver had the largest population, and there was, total numbers of all, if you take everybody on the West Coast in 1942, approximately 22,000.

TI: Okay, for the whole thing.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 31>

TI: But going back to Hastings Park, so, so what was kind of the typical day for you as a thirteen-year-old boy?

HS: Well, most of the day we did, they eventually started a little school, so we're down there in the middle, the end of March. By the, by the beginning of, by beginning of May, they put up an improvised school for all the kids, so that they would, we would have to go to some kind of teaching setup. It was, and they were held in the bleachers, in each, each grade or part of grade, I was in grade seven, so there'd be 7-A, 7-B, 7-, so you had them in a, in one of the big buildings, and we would just sit in the bleachers and they would try to, the teacher would try to conduct the classes in front, in front of you. And then they would section off, then they would have another section for... it was, it wasn't totally, there was no, there was no building for one class, so you had ten different classes going on all at the same time in, say, one big, big arena, which was just sectioned off for classes. So we did get a type of schooling; it wasn't, it wasn't the best situation, but we were trying, they tried to give us some type of schooling.

TI: And who were the teachers at the school?

HS: The teachers? Well, they brought in some teachers who were willing to come out from the general community, so they must have had people that we would call substitute teachers. The principal was a, that took over, was a full-time teacher from the Vancouver area, and he was a, he might have been a vice-principal at some high school or school, and he took over as he was an English, English background. And so he had to try and organize this setup so that we have some kind of teaching going on for a while.

TI: And books and supplies, you had all those things?

HS: Books and supplies, they did have, they brought in some books and supplies that we could use, and we did have it for about two to three months, to try and finish off the year, because here we were all leaving in, say, midstream. If I'm grade seven, they had to somehow finish off that year for everybody that was there. And they tried the best they could. Now, a lot of these ideas came maybe from, they were just brought up by a commission called the B.C. Security Commission, which was then organized in B.C., made up mainly of people who were from the area of Vancouver and surrounding. It was headed by, it was headed by a fellow by the name of, of Taylor, Austin Taylor, actually, who was a, he actually was... today you would say he was a billionaire, but in those days, he was a millionaire businessman from Vancouver. Very successful businessman. They made him chairman of this B.C. Security Commission, and he, of course had, they had various sections, but they had a whole group of people that set up the, it was made a committee, and this committee, they were responsible for the federal government, and they were sort of given the, the mandate of trying to do something with the 22,000 displaced people. And so, and so it was his job to do, to settle them.

TI: When you say "set up," so, and organize, he was more worried or concerned about, about the welfare of the people?

HS: Welfare.

TI: Because he didn't have to worry so much about the security? I'm trying to understand...

HS: Oh, yeah, he's working, he's working about what to do with us in terms of housing, food, everything. And then, of course, then the thing, obviously in that commission, the idea, what came up was what are you going to do with the schooling of these kids who had been, who had been abruptly removed from their schools? Because like in the lower mainland, there was areas of, areas where maybe there might have been up to fifty percent of the kids were of Japanese descent, like Steveston area. There was a large population of Japanese people in Steveston, so they, they occupied large numbers. Whereas we were in Prince Rupert, maybe, like I said, ten to fifteen percent of the school population, nevertheless, you would leave. And when you left, nobody knew where you went. In fact, there was very little, there was very little media attention put to this whole thing. Whether it was deliberate, and probably had something, it probably was deliberate, they didn't want people to know what was happening to, when you really come right down to it, to fellow Canadians.

TI: But you really didn't know that. You were in the camps --

HS: No, we didn't know that, I didn't know that, because we didn't read the newspapers.

TI: Right.

<End Segment 31> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 32>

TI: But there's something else you said that I wanted to follow up on. Yeah, you mentioned how in Prince Rupert you were maybe one of two or three other Japanese students in a class of twenty or twenty-four. Now you're in a class where they're all Japanese. I mean, from your perspective as a thirteen-year-old, was that, did it seem different?

HS: It was different.

TI: And how was that different?

HS: I had never been with so many Japanese people. I had never been with so many Japanese people, and so that it was an entirely new experience for me and for Harry and for many of the Japanese kids that were there. Because all of a sudden, here we were all the same, whereas before, you were a part of a general, a whole, a different community, a multicultural community, now you're all the same and we're all together in Hastings Park. So it was a different experience, and you met, you began to see kids from Victoria, kids from Cumberland, from the Vancouver Island area, kids from, some of the kids came even from the interior of B.C. The majority of them were, though, from the West Coast itself. Vancouver, we didn't meet that many from Vancouver because, of course, Vancouver kids and everybody were still staying intact in their present, in their various houses, and they were being gradually told that they had to move. The RCMP was going around...

TI: But going back to your class, so you're now all, all Japanese.

HS: All Japanese, that's right.

TI: And are there any examples that can sort of talk about how that might have been different than, than your other class? Was there anything that you can think of, of difference, by being in a class of all Japanese?

HS: Well, it became different when we actually left, left Hastings Park and went to a place like the camps, like New Denver where we went to, where all the, all the people that we were associated with were all in the same, we're all of Japanese ancestry. And the classes there were organized in, in a room, so that grades seven or eight, or that time, they had, they pretty well graduated you to, to finish the school so that you were going to the next grade. So I spent grade eight, of course, in New Denver where we had a room, and this was a grade eight class, we had, I think, two classes of grade eight. Not sure how many we had, but I think there were quite a few buildings that they had. But we were all of Japanese ancestry, so now it was a different milieu in terms of, of, well, in terms of scholastic competition, you might say. It wasn't the same as, as being in Prince Rupert, where the desire to excel was probably more prominent because we were a minority and, you know, you felt that you had to do your, do the best you can to make, more or less so you wouldn't let your side down, you might say. That would be, you know, I know that my parents were always concerned that we did well at school, and as I mentioned before, many of the Japanese kids in Prince Rupert were at the top of the classes. And, and they didn't want to, say, be at the bottom of the class or a poor student, because it reflected on the community. Whereas now, you were in a situation where all of you were the same in terms of race, and so there wasn't quite that competition to be ultra good or ultra, as a student, you were more concerned about, about your colleagues, about friendship, about getting to know people. About schooling, yes, we did, we still did spend, we did still strive to do well in our school, but it wasn't quite the same competition as if you were in a white school.

TI: Well, that's interesting. So when you were at Prince Rupert and you were a minority, you felt this pressure to perform more.

HS: Perform, because of their minority, in fact.

TI: But in general, when you were with these classes of all Japanese, was the scholastic achievement generally higher than you would find in Prince Rupert, or was it about the same?

HS: I would think it's about the same. I don't believe that we worked as hard, probably, in the internment camps, especially when we finally got our own little schools. Then later on, when you got, when I went out from the internment camp or before coming to the internment camp, I think I tried harder. And I think all the other kids had, that I knew, probably felt it a little more, 'cause we were pressured to do well at, at the school. 'Cause I think there was this general perception that people, you didn't want people to think that you, as being Japanese you were dumb, or you were, you were less than they were in terms of academic achievement. So when you got to the, got to the internment camp like New Denver, that sort of pressure on you was gone because now for all of us, all of a sudden, it was an entirely new environment. Yes, there's still some pressure to do well, and education was still important, and that was the only thing that they, they stressed upon us. Not so much that you had to be at the top of the class or anything like that, but that you have to get educated.

TI: Well, and how did that feel for you, to not have that kind of pressure to...

HS: Well, it certainly, it put less pressure on our... and we were much more carefree. And I think in the internment camp, certainly as far as kids are concerned, people under the age of twenty even, there wasn't this need to sort of excel and best yourself, someone else, mainly because you seem to be all in the same boat you might say. So it wasn't important that you were, you were better than someone else, because in actual fact, you couldn't be better than someone else, because when we started, we were all, now, whether you happened to be a son of a doctor or the son of a fisherman or the son of a janitor, you're still in the internment camp at the same level. It wasn't the same as being in the outside world. And so we were protected to a large degree from that stress of, of, the stress of, say, even when we went to high school. We tried to do well, no question, we tried to get a good education and we were always being, we were always being told by our parents, "The one thing they can't take away from you is education. So if you can get that, no matter what happens to you after, get educated and then you can compete as a person in the overall general society." And I think that was certainly drilled into us, and it was always something that was in the back of our minds, I think, that that, that to get educated was important, to make yourself educated would help you in terms of when you returned to the general Canadian society, which we expected to do. However, there was, there was always this, there was this sort of uncertainty as to what was going to become to us. But many of us were, we were so concerned with the daily living that we didn't even, you didn't think about the future.

<End Segment 32> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 33>

TI: Good. So let's talk about daily living for, like, your parents. In Hastings Park, oftentimes you were at school. What would your mother and father do?

HS: My mother and father, they, they worked in, in and around the camp at times. They would do, she did a lot of, they worked in the kitchen, they did -- lot of these, the parents, didn't do, and other ones were looking after kids. They had, mind you, my mother had to look after kids, 'cause she had two smaller siblings. So she had to, she didn't do very much of that work in terms of what you call employment-type work in the camp. My father did have to work, he, he was in the camp, they were building, they were building little cabinets, they were building anything that they could do to keep them occupied. They were doing that, some of them worked as sort of, they worked as substitute guards or people that went around picking up, cleaning, keeping the place clean, doing all kinds of little odd jobs around, around the Hastings Park. Although there was a fence around it, and you had -- so you could go out, and you were allowed to go out, and I can't remember how, how often you could leave the camp, but there wasn't a strict sort of situation where you could never go out. All kinds of people always going out, visiting Vancouver, coming back, but they had to register to go out, and you had to sort of check in. So the other thing was that I can't remember whether it was, there was a quota as to how many can go out or how often you can go out, but we were out, certainly Harry and I would go out quite often, we would go out.

TI: So what would you and Harry do when you went out?

HS: Well, we were, we would go out and go down to see his sister who was living in Vancouver, one of the places we'd go. The other thing we would do is just, we would just go out to even have a different type of meal. Harry and I would, would be given, we were given, I think we were given twenty-five cents, and we would be... and that would be, that was for if we went out we could to go the beach, Kitsilano, stay there the afternoon, have fish and chips, and then we'd come home. Favorite thing was, for Harry and I was we would go down to, then, at that time, Powell Street, which was called Little Tokyo or whatever it was called. It was, it wasn't... it wasn't, I think it was called Little Tokyo at that time, but more than not it was really Powell Street, and Powell Street was where the, the Japanese people lived. And more or less like it was almost like a ghetto of Japanese people. It was right downtown. And there are a lot of Chinese restaurants, there were two or three of them there, and we would go out and have, for twenty-five cents each, if we combined it, for fifty cents we can get a Chinese meal. We didn't want always to be eating in the -- 'cause eating in the, in the camp became quite monotonous. There was always the same things, like stew, that they could make easily, or at lunchtime, it was sandwiches, like bologna sandwiches or ham sandwiches, things like that. That's how they fed us. And breakfast would be things like porridge, and they would sometimes have an egg on some occasion.

TI: Now, when you would go down to, like, Powell Street where the Japanese, the Vancouver Japanese...

HS: Stayed, still living there, yeah.

TI: Were there restrictions placed upon them or anything like that?

HS: No, not when you, there was nothing, no restrictions as far as I know, but ownership of businesses had been restricted. So that you, all the Japanese owners were, I think, a lot of them had been, were closed down. Say, well, The New Canadian was down there, and that was closed. People, they had, people had travel agencies and things of that nature, they were, as far as I know, they were closed. So that the restaurants that were open down there were mainly Chinese restaurants. And there were a few, there definitely were a few Japanese grocery-type places that were still open when we first went there, but I think subsequently they were closed because the owners were shipped out. They were going out continuously from about all that year, all that summer, May, June, July, and they were being, gradually being deleted of the numbers of people living there. They were always being shipped away, and being told to leave. And what would happen is, more or less, was they had by this time, B.C. Security Commission had developed a system whereby they had figured out where they would put us, and in April of that year, Tom Shoyama told me that he and a real estate person by the name of Boltbee, Len Boltbee. As a matter of fact, Boltbee Real Estate still exists in Vancouver. That was the real estate company. He would, and Austin Taylor had decided he and Tom Shoyama would go into the interior of B.C., look for a place, look for places where Japanese people could live, remove to, outside the hundred mile area. Of course, right away, the first camp that went up was called Tashme, and it was at Hope, which is exactly a hundred miles from the coast. They put a camp in there, and they started building houses for them there. And then beyond that, then we had to go, they had to go to the interior of B.C., they had two problems. One was a lot of the, a lot of the, like the Okanogan cities like, like Kelowna and Vernon, they had put up big, right away, the city councils put up signs, they didn't want, as they said, they don't want "Japs" here. Whereas some of the other places, there was, they had to figure out where they can go, where there wouldn't be the problems with the local community. But at the same time, they still had to have housing for, for the Japanese.

<End Segment 33> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 34>

TI: So this is fascinating. So it's interesting, so Tom Shoyama, a Japanese Canadian, was sort of tasked to go scout out potential places for the, the community to be removed to. And so he's, he's trying to balance the fact that, he has to make sure the local community would be somewhat accepting of this community.

HS: Yes, they had to go, they had to go there and talk to (communities).

TI: And you would need some infrastructure in terms of buildings or something.

HS: So what eventually they came down to was if you look into the interior of B.C., there's an area in the Slocan city area, which is in the Kootenay area, had been at one time a booming mining frontier during the early 1900s. They had discovered, mainly it was silver, but they thought that it would be gold there, and it was kind of a mini gold rush going on. And the whole valley of Slocan Lake, which is just adjacent to the Kootenay Lake, which would be directly south, directly north of, probably north of about the Spokane area. Not, no, not that far. Just one of the... it would be almost, as a matter of fact, it wouldn't be that far (...) east of Seattle. If you go directly (north) from... let's see, it would be, yeah, it would be around, maybe around Spokane or a little bit further west, if you went directly north, you came into this valley, the Slocan valley where there had been at one time, fifteen thousand people living in that area, various towns. And those towns had become ghost towns. Like they had become abandoned, and there were towns there where there was big buildings just sitting empty, because everybody, once the gold, idea of the gold rush, they thought it was going to be a gold rush, but then it turned out to be nothing. And eventually that, even their silver (mined out) so much that they have very little further mining that they could do, so they all, all the people in those areas left, and left behind all these old buildings. And so they thought, "Well, we'll take, we'll put the Japanese in those buildings." That's why Tom and Len Boltbee went by car. He said it was a great big Buick, and they went through, at that time, he said the roads were still just the gravel roads, and they had to go through the mountains. He said it was a hairy ride that they had to go through. And they finally got to a place called Kaslo, which is on the (lake) -- Kootenay Lake. And when he got there, they said the town, there were empty buildings there, and they thought, okay, they could put some of them in there. Then they went from there to (another) place called Sandon, which was also an old mining town. And they were completely abandoned, all kinds of buildings, and only one hermit living there. (...)

TI: Now, the man that Tom Shoyama went with, the realtor, was he part of that B.C. Security?

HS: Oh, yeah, he was a part. Well, I don't know if he was a part of the B.C. Security Commission, but he had, he had been appointed by Austin Taylor to be the, because of his knowledge of real estate, they thought that he would be the ideal guy to, to negotiate, negotiate these areas by going there, talking to the people there, can they bring the Japanese to this area. Well, New Denver was the next place. New Denver was kind of, became kind of a center for the administration of all these, all these towns, because it had a hospital, it had a bank, it had grocery stores, it had, still had hardware stores.

<End Segment 34> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 35>

TI: So in this place, New Denver, they actually had a local community.

HS: They had a local community. Small, it was like a village. Probably a hundred, hundred and fifty people total in that whole area that were still living there, but they were the leftovers of the gold, not the gold rush, but the mining rush that had gone on. They called it New Denver because they thought it was going to be like Denver in Colorado. But it didn't come to pass. Of course, everything, after World War I, by the end of World War I, everything had collapsed. That whole mining venture had collapsed, and these places were just being abandoned. New Denver even had an opera house. (...) There was an opera house there, and a hotel -- that was important that you have a hotel if you were going to have administrative people coming there to look at things over, and you had to have some place for them to stay. (...)

TI: Well, I'm curious, so they go to these ghost towns, so probably, even though there are buildings there, are kind of run down.

HS: Yes.

TI: So someone has to go in there and sort of fix them up?

HS: Oh, you had to go in there to look to see how good they were. They've been there for, by 1942, it was at least, they were, some of those buildings were over fifty years old because they had been built in the late 1800s. The place had been booming in the 1890s, but by, by 19-, 1914, 1915, things were starting to just, the whole thing was collapsed, and people were just moving out in droves. And eventually, all the other ones like Sandon was abandoned except for one person, Kaslo had been reduced to a small group of white people living there, New Denver had this little village, but they had all the amenities there. They had all the different infrastructure for carrying on commerce there. Slocan City, which was twenty miles south, at the end, at the very southern end of Lake Slocan, which was quite a, the lake was about, oh, it was about... it would be about, in those days it would be something like, in the neighborhood of about fifty kilometers long. And so it was there, but it was a little railroad station there, and they had a little railroad station and that's about it. Maybe a few other people living around. So they went, they went through to New Denver, looked at that place, and then went down through to, to Slocan City, and here there were a whole bunch of old, derelict buildings. They all had to be fixed up, because they were, like fifty years old, (...) neglected...

TI: So who was, who was fixing up the buildings?

HS: That's the, people like my father. All these, all these men that had been sent...

TI: Okay, so let me understand this. So like in April, Tom Shoyama with this realtor are going around scouting out, they find these ghost towns, and then they start then sending essentially Japanese men to go fix them up, cleaning them up.

HS: Yeah. They had to figure out what was going to be done.

TI: So that's where the men were going, into...

HS: That's where my father went after they, they realized that this was something they could do. So he went to New Denver to help, but he, there's that term ganbari, you know, you're gonna sit tight as much as possible, strike or whatever you want to call it. They were, you weren't going to move until you were absolutely sure that this was what had to be done. And so they did go to, my father did go to New Denver, but he was, he made sure that we were assigned to go to New Denver before he decided he would go. And twenty miles south was Slocan City, which, and that's, by the way, that's the area that David Suzuki went to, his family. And beyond that, further south there, were three more, three more camps that were set up south of Slocan City, that was a place called Bay Farm, and the next one was called Popoff, probably for a farmer by the name of Popoff who owned the land, that they either rented it or bought it. And then they, and the place called Lemon Creek, which is still there. Lemon Creek is still there, but none of the houses are, are left behind. But these places were scouted out by, like I say -- they didn't want to let people know that these are the places that were, that they wanted to send us to. They probably had to negotiate with these people. And finally, the farmer, that farmland, Bay Farm and Popoff and Lemon Creek, the people that owned the land in those areas probably negotiated -- I'm not sure how they did it, but they finally allowed the B.C. Security Commission to put the camps in those areas. And then, of course, there were a number of other places where, which there was, there was a lot of, there was a good number of Vancouverites, Japanese people from Vancouver, who were willing to pay for their own upkeep to move out, and were willing to relocate themselves.

<End Segment 35> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 36>

TI: Before we go there, let's go back to Hastings Park and just finish up there. Any other kind of memories or stories that you have about Hastings Park?

HS: Well, one of the memories I have of Hastings Park was, was the fact that although there was a fence around Hastings Park, and you weren't allowed to leave the park, you could actually leave the park by just jumping over the fence. And that was very simply done, because it's a great big, one of these big dipper roller coasters, and the roller coaster would go right close to the fence, and you just have to climb yourself up the roller coaster and jump over the fence, which was only about eight feet high. And so you just come right over there, and then you just jump the fence, and you could go out. The problem was to get back in; that was the only difficulty. And so, so you had to sort of sneak back in somehow when you felt, if there's a number of people there, so that you could sort of sneak in with them. And I know a lot of kids used to try to jump out, spend the day in Vancouver and come, sneak in, back into the camp. Because there's no place -- if you got out, that's fine, but where do you go? You look, you're a visible minority, you can't sleep in the park or anything like that because you'd be caught. So what you end up with is you'd have to come back to the camp. And I, I suppose there may have been some cases where people slipped out and never came back, but where would you go? That was the big problem.

TI: Did any of the boys or any of the people get in trouble for doing that?

HS: Well, I can't, I don't remember anybody that got into trouble, because I don't believe that once, once the camp got, once the Hastings Park got going, I don't believe that the people that were looking, like the guards, the guards were not RCMP. They had maybe one or two people there that were RCMP, but the majority of the guards were what they called commissionaires. That's where they got the term commissionaires, they were B.C., B.C. Security Commission employees. And they hired a whole bunch of World War I veterans who were willing to, 'cause it gave 'em a job. The old guys that, by this time, they'd be in, certainly over the age of fifty years of age, forty or fifty years of age, and then even older, because they'd been in World War I. They made it a point of appointing people who were originally veterans, figuring that they're much more trustworthy as guards. And they became, they were, like they would be, they would have armbands saying B.C. Security, B.C. Security Commission, and they were called commissionaires and they, they would guard the entrance gates. They would do a lot of the administrative stuff inside the camp, oversee things, they would be the... so these were people --

TI: Did you ever get a chance to ever chat with these men?

HS: No, not myself, but I know that my, the sister, not my sisters, but Harry's sisters who were older, were much more... and they would, they would get very friendly with them and they would find out what to do, how to get out easily. So often the guys would, it wasn't like it was, not like a concentration camp. They were not concerned about people leaving and coming so much. But we, as kids, we're twelve, thirteen, fourteen era, we were very concerned that, that this was like a prison. We always felt like it was a prison, but we realized we could actually get out without much difficulty and we could, we could always sneak back in. And people were doing it all the time. The camp, the Hastings Park only lasted about six months or so. It was, you know what a manning depot is? Like in the army, they bring all the soldiers into the area and get them ready to be shipped to overseas or shipped someplace else. That was the, this was just a temporary stop so they could organize where we were gonna go. To move 22,000 people was a big job, just like it was in the States. 'Cause you had over 200,000.

TI: Right. So I'm curious, when, in your sort of excursions out in Vancouver, did you ever experience any anti-Japanese sentiment?

HS: Well, in a way, they never knew whether we were Japanese or Chinese. That's the biggest, that was the biggest thing. We rarely did experience this in Vancouver, because the ordinary Caucasian in Vancouver was never sure whether you were Japanese or Chinese. In fact, there were a few, a number of Chinese began walking around town in Vancouver, we heard, with a button that says "I'm Chinese," so that they wouldn't be mistaken for Japanese. [Laughs] There's, just like that guy Gordon Hirabayashi in Washington here, saying that he, he was obviously flaunting curfew laws, and he, he said he deliberately got himself, went past police stations, hung around there hoping that someone would arrest him because they were going to make a court case out of it. The lawyers were going to fight his deportation. And so he said he wanted to do this, but nobody ever picked up on him because they thought he was probably Chinese and didn't say anything. I mean, he actually said, "I had to go to the FBI office," eventually, after doing this for a number of days and hoping that they would pick him up. They didn't pick him up, so he had to go to the FBI office and tell him who he was. "I'm, I'm defying your curfew." He had to tell them that, and then they, all of a sudden they got all huffy about things and put him into jail. But prior to that -- and it's the same with most of the people. When we were in Vancouver, we were a visible minority, but in another way, we were invisible because we looked too much like Chinese.

<End Segment 36> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 37>

TI: Any other memories or stories about Hastings Park before we move on?

HS: Well, I can remember one memory. Like I told you how we used to always jump out, or try to go out and get a Chinese meal or something. So different, to get a better meal than what we're getting inside the, inside Hastings Park. Harry and I would always arrange to go to a restaurant called Sun Peking in -- there was two, one was called Sun Nanking and the other one was called Sun Peking, right in Powell Street. And you could, for fifty cents, you could get a great big dish of chow mein and two bowls of rice, and you got the soup free, and tea. That all, that all came for fifty cents. And one, they, I said, okay, "I'll meet, meet, Harry, I'll meet you at the," we went, for some reason we had to get out at different times. It might have been one of the days when I, we jumped over the fence. Anyhow, somehow I got delayed to get out, and Harry had gone before me. He went to, he told me that we were going to Sun Peking, so I went there and I got, and I went into the door, I looked around for him. I couldn't find Harry, and all of a sudden his head poked up from one of the booths, and he motioned me over. And I went over there, and here he was, sort of in the middle, middle or the end of the meal all by himself. And he wanted me to give him, give him my twenty-five cents. I said, "Well, what'll I eat, then?" "Well," he said, "you could eat the leftovers, but I need the, I need your twenty-five cents." I said, "What happened?" He said, "Well, I was standing out here waiting for you, and this Japanese fellow came along and said, 'Are you going in for a meal?' 'Do you want to go in for a meal?'" And so Harry thought this guy was inviting him to come in and have a meal. So he sat down with him, the soup, everything arrived, soup, rice and the chow mein and tea, the guy drank the soup, ate his bowl of rice, and then gave Harry a nickel and said, "That's my portion. I'm not gonna touch the chow mein," and he left. So here was Harry, left with the, with only half the, only twenty-five cents, so he had to have my twenty-five cents so he could pay for the rest of that meal. And so I gave it to him, but I only got a portion of the meal because there was no longer any rice. Of course, everything had been eaten up by this other fellow. So anyhow, he was really upset about this Japanese man taking him in there, and he was, he had been completely fooled by this guy.

TI: So he was kind of conned by this guy.

HS: He was conned by this guy, yeah, and anyhow, that was one incident that I remember. Anyhow, we did spend six months there, my dad, what you might call ganbari as long as possible, and eventually he had to make a decision as to where we were gonna go. And he decided that we would go to New Denver. He also then, he left soon after that, after the decision was made, and went to New Denver to work on their work camps, to build the houses. They found out that despite all these old houses, there was still not enough room for (...)... in that valley, total, there must have been a, there had to be about, oh, twelve, twelve to fifteen thousand Japanese people.

<End Segment 37> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 38>

TI: But before we go all the way to New Denver, let's talk about the trip from Hastings Park to New Denver and how you got there.

HS: Oh, that was, that was... oh, we got there by -- 'cause the railroad, I mentioned before, the railroad came right into Hastings Park, so it was no problem to, for them to load us up onto it.

TI: Now, at that point, did you and the family kind of know where you were going?

HS: Yes, we did.

TI: And what were your, what were your thoughts and feelings at this point?

HS: Well, we didn't, it was, whatever it was, certainly my mother didn't express any, any thoughts to us. They, the parents in those days, they kept everything away from the kids. They would never talk to them about what was happening, because it wasn't our, it wasn't our business. They were gonna look after the situation for us. They were gonna do the best for you, that was generally the idea. There, if I was a little older, it might have been different. If I was eighteen, nineteen, you might have been involved in the decision-making. But I was at that time thirteen, and I was the oldest, everybody else was younger than me in our family, and it was, it was my mother's, my father's decision as to where, which camp we would go to. We, they had chosen that they wanted to go to New Denver. Other peoples, in fact, went directly from that New Denver area, they went to Alberta, to the sugar beets, and some to Manitoba, like the Mikis, they went to Manitoba to work on the sugar beets. Two things, the reason why they went there, was one of the thing is that they could get paid for working in the sugar beets. In other words, they were going to be on their own. They weren't going to be in any camp. Second thing, they could keep the family together, they were told they could keep the family together if they wanted to go to the sugar beets, and so they chose, a lot of the people from -- you know, this is all done sort of by word of mouth. And so some areas in... Steveston, large groups from Steveston would go to southern Alberta or to Manitoba. In fact, that's where a lot of those people came from and they would talk amongst themselves, and said, "Oh, this, we can keep the family together, we can also make money."

TI: So it sounds like, from the Canadian government's standpoint, as long as you were a hundred miles off the West Coast, and you could find a place to stay or work or do something, then they were, they were okay --

HS: More than happy. More than happy, if you chose to do it on your own. If you were willing to do all this on your own, that's fine, they'd be happy to assist you.

TI: Now, would you have to kind of go through a pretty formal process of apply and...

HS: Oh, yeah, apply and where you want to go.

TI: But if you did that, that was available to you. It could be even for students to go to college.

HS: That, providing you pay the way yourself. If you want to go to Toronto, fine. They might even, I forgot what they would do. They might even take you there, providing you're on your own, and they don't have to worry about you anymore. You're off their books. They might know you, they might know where you are, but other than that, they were... see, all of this was being done ad hoc. People, the B.C. Security Commission had the mandate, they had to get us out of that West Coast area. So the first priority, get us out of the hundred-mile protective zone as they called it. The second thing was they had to get us out of B.C. if possible because they, there was enough clamor from B.C. politicians, both local and provincial, city-wise, to get rid of us. And so they wanted us out of B.C., and as I mentioned before, part of it was economic, and part of it was racial. The other, and the other aspect is that they wanted us out of their hair, you might say, they didn't think, they kept thinking we were going to cause sabotage and whatever it was.

TI: Yeah, so of the 22,000, how many of those were able to actually on their own find kind of other things to do?

HS: Oh, almost, well, close to, I would say, a third of the people found things to do on their own. And about two-thirds went to the camps. I'm not exactly sure of the numbers, but Tashme, for instance, had something in the neighborhood eventually, I think had about five or six thousand people of Japanese ancestry there. The whole valley of New Denver, Slocan, that whole area, Popoff, Lemon Creek, probably had somewhere in the neighborhood of ten to twelve thousand Japanese people. So, you know, you ended up at, you had, of the 22,000, a good majority of them went to internment camps of one type or another. There was places like, there was a place called Greenwood, Grand Forks, these are small towns in the interior of B.C. where Japanese people are allowed to go, providing they would fend for themselves. In some cases, the government would give them money to build their own houses, and they would even build some of the houses for them just to get them out there, off their... 'cause they were what they called self-sustaining. They worked, they worked for the people, and they worked in lumber yards and stuff like that there, so they looked after themselves. Whereas the camps, the internment camps, there were ten, approximately ten... oh, nine, eight or nine internment camps, some of them really small, that were being administered by the B.C. Security Commission. And that was the majority. Probably two-thirds of the people were put in that situation. And then there was this whole group that went out to, to southern Alberta, and a whole group that came directly from, from the Mission, that lower Fraser Valley area that went directly to Manitoba to work in the sugar beet areas there. That way they could stay together, they could make some money, but it turned out, of course, that the sugar beet situation wasn't quite as rosy as they were, like everything else, they said it was going to be, "Yeah, you'll be able to do this."

<End Segment 38> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 39>

TI: So before we go there, let's, let's now go to New Denver, and when you arrived, what were your first impressions of New Denver?

HS: Well, we arrived, how we go is we arrived in Slocan City, 'cause the railroads stopped in Slocan City. And then from Slocan to New Denver, you had to go by, by truck. And all the, we had, we're taking all our suitcases and possessions --

TI: How long a trek was this?

HS: It's about, it's about, it was twenty miles at that time, so if you can work that out, twenty miles by truck, and you go along the edge of the lake. And kind of at that time was a pretty hairy road, because you're right on the edge of the lake, and you drove quite high, at some spaces, it would be, the highway was (gravel), it was a skyline highway, it was a, it was kind of a dangerous highway, but still, we got up there with no problems. And then when you got to New Denver, they had converted a great big ice rink, or it was a curling and hockey rink that they had converted into a mess hall. (...) They said, "Okay, leave your baggage here, bring your bag," and we jumped off these trucks, a bunch of us at one time, there would be a trainload coming up. Some of them would stop at Slocan, others would, like us, we're going off to New Denver, and we took off our luggage there and put it, say they'll put the luggage in that corner. And most of this was done by people from the camp itself, Japanese people from the camp who were overseeing some of the administration. Because they didn't have, there was no, the reason why the army themselves didn't like this idea of evacuation was they realized that they would have to use soldiers to do all this sort of thing. So they said no, they didn't want to have anything to do with it. So, 'cause the whole thing was that Canada had been at war for two or three years by this time. They had to get them... so anybody who was able-bodied, who was in the army, was being shipped over to Europe, or to eastern Canada to train for going to Europe. And then, of course, then came the west, the Pacific war, and all of a sudden now they had to have personnel for that. The RCMP was stretched because any of the, any of their real able-bodied people were also leaving the RCMP to go as, as members of the armed forces. So it ended up that they had to use whatever help they could get, and they had to use veterans. So there were a whole bunch of veterans who signed up to work as commissionaires with the B.C. Security Commission.

TI: But in addition to that, internally, the Japanese Canadians are...

HS: Yeah, internal security (was done by "commissionaires.")

TI: ...would do their own security, and do a lot of the infrastructure.

HS: That's right, and then they used a lot of Japanese people themselves. People, veterans that, there were a lot of Japanese veterans from World War I, they made them commissionaires as well, and they would sort of be a second level of what you'd call security people to help try and keep order in the whole situation. When we got there, the first thing you had was you, by that time, it would be, I think it was... by the time we arrived in New Denver, it was late afternoon. So we had to go, nobody had, of course, we didn't have the wherewithal to have supper or anything because we were, we just had our luggage. So they said, "Stop here, go and have your supper, and come back out," and then they'll assign us a tent. And then we did get a tent, and then we lived in the tent for, oh, two or three months. And by November or so, early December, we got one of the houses. And both the Nishikaze family and our family went into a larger house, because we had six, there were, kids, our kids were, there was myself and my sister, we were over ten years old by that time. We only had two small children, which was my second sister Eva and my younger brother who was, by that time, I think, five or six years old. So the rest of the, rest of the Nishikazes had every, Harry was the youngest, everybody else was older than he, and they had a family of, total number of seven. So our six, seven, there were thirteen people in the house, so they decided that they would give us one of the larger houses, which was, at that time, twenty-eight feet by sixteen.

TI: And so why don't you, when you say "house," did it have like a kitchen?

HS: Oh, kitchen in the center, a common, common kitchen and dining room and what you would call a family room in the center. And on each side would be bunk beds and double beds and bunk beds that they built.

<End Segment 39> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 40>

TI: And so once you had a house, would you take your meals inside your own house?

HS: Oh, yeah. We took a, once we got that, we would start making our own meals, and we were, we were given... I think we might have been given originally some, some help in terms of food, food products so that we could carry on our own, own activities there. But it was only, but we could, but everybody had money that they brought from the coast, and my father had the same thing, you see, had given my mother some money to bring with her to the, to the camps, and to keep, keep a little bit of money for food. That was the main thing that we needed, was food. And so to begin with, we ate in the bunkhouse while we were in the tent, but once we got our house and got our setup, then we started making our own meals. Because while you're in the tent, it was difficult to make any meals. So you went, we used to walk over to the, to the mess hall as they called it, and have our meals there. And that went on for about two or three months, and then we came back here, by the time November, December came about, we had our own house. 'Cause they were building it from the moment that the people like Shoyama and Len Boltbee had, they'd come back from their sightseeing -- not sightseeing, their survey, they sat down and worked out where they, where they were gonna send people. And by this time, they realized that they were going to be able to, their survey of all these buildings showed that there was no way that you were gonna be able to house the 22,000 people. They thought, they thought, "Oh, there's gonna be enough room," but it ended up that it only, those buildings could only house a small portion. So they realized they had to, they had to get a lot of, a lot of buildings, a lot of the houses built, shacks. You couldn't live in tents, 'cause they had army tents that they had for us, but they were World War I army tents. They didn't have the supplies for all that sort of thing, to have army tents, and, and to supply the mess hall with food and everything like that, they... and this guy, Austin Taylor, who was a sharp businessman, was able, apparently, at that time, in the middle of the war, with everything short, he went and somehow found, apparently he found seven million board feet of shiplap someplace. He got that shipped into, into the interior of B.C., and portioned it out to all the different camps, and they'd start building shiplap houses or shacks they were, basically. Two bedrooms, most of them were two bedrooms, one on each end, and a common area in the center. And they put two families in each. And of that families, most of the time they were people that knew each other, like ourselves, we're partners. Mr. Nishikaze and we're used to being together, and it wasn't a big problem for us. There were other places and other families, they had had a little more of a change in going into that new situation, because they were meeting up with a family they might know a little bit, but not that well. But still, now they were going to be housed together.


TI: So you had just, we're now at New Denver, and you had just talked about some of the housing and how they're constructed, how they got together. Let's talk --

HS: But specifically on New Denver... New Denver was not what you would consider the typical camp. It was probably better than the typical camp. However, the setup was the same on all the camps in that the housing, although in New Denver we had very few ghost houses, like houses from ghost town times, empty houses, you did, however, have a few there. But in some of the other, like Slocan City had quite a few old, old buildings that were used as houses for the, for the evacuees, where, and Kaslo and Sandon had a lot. However, the majority of the housing was done by building these shiplap houses from that lumber that Taylor had found. Anyhow, these were shiplap houses, and there were two, almost three different types. One was single families, and those were very small houses. I forgot what the exact dimensions were, something in the neighborhood of 14' x 20' or so, or 14' x 16'. Then there were the most common type, shiplap houses, which were between about 16' by, 16' x 24'. And then there were a few larger ones like ours, which were 16 x 28 feet.

TI: What's interesting to me, though, although you were in the largest one, when I think of trying to house thousands and thousands of people, another way of doing it would have been to just construct barracks and have people there.

HS: They never did that.

TI: But this conscious decision to do it as family units...

HS: Single families, yes. Somehow, but there were a few single men's barrack-type setup, and they had, for instance, just near New Denver, up on the hill about two miles away was a place called Nelson Ranch, and that was, obviously belonged to a fellow by the name of Nelson, his ranch up there. They built a single man's hostel there, which housed I don't know how many men, but maybe in the neighborhood of twenty or thirty men, single men. There weren't that many -- there were still a lot of single men, but a lot of the single men had been sent to work camps, and they stayed in the work camps all during that period, and eventually a lot of them did move out east into Ontario. Because there was this continual push that they gave, that they were always coming around wondering whether or not you wanted to go to Toronto or to the sugar beets, or they wanted us out of B.C. There's no question that they were still getting pressure from, sort of, pressure groups in, on the West Coast, that kept trying to get rid of, as I said, the "enemy within us."

TI: But even though you were a hundred miles away, they still felt that your presence was negative.

HS: Yeah, that our presence... the thing was, I think they worried about, they kept thinking somehow we'll come back and reclaim our rights. Because, so one of the things they did was they sold all of our property so that there would be no property for you to come back to.

<End Segment 40> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 41>

TI: Okay, before we go there, I want to, let's stay at New Denver, because I do want to talk about that also. But New Denver, so it sounds like to me, what New Denver was, was in some cases designed to be a community.

HS: It was a community, yes.

TI: And what did the Japanese do to make it more like a community? I mean, were there things that they set up...

HS: Well, it became, see, one of the things they did, in New Denver, the actual houses were on a, sort of a, sort of a peninsula or a, or an outcrop of the shoreline of the lake. There was a farm there that sort of jutted out into the lake, and on that, on that jut of land, it had been cleared, and an Italian family that's name of Watson of all things, it was an Italian family of farmers. And they had, they had a market garden going in that area. They owned an orchard, that whole thing was an orchard, the whole jut of land. Well, they converted that whole, somehow, the B.C. Security Commission acquired that land, either rented it or they bought it, I have no idea. And, in fact, the Watson, the family of Italians lived right in the center of that, and continued to stay there all the time that the camp was there.

TI: So they were surrounded by the Japanese?

HS: Japanese, yes. So we were, they were always surrounded by us, and in fact, during that first winter, that was the winter of '42, they supplied a lot of the vegetables, the Japanese families that got in there and started cooking for themselves, and there was no, they had no way of getting fresh vegetables at that time. However, two hundred shiplap houses, two hundred plus. Because there were two hundred houses for people, plus they had to build, they built two bathhouses, or ofuro houses, they built a community hall -- and this was with shiplap -- and then they built something in the neighborhood of about twenty little, twenty little houses that became schoolrooms. Each house being, each shiplap shack becoming a schoolroom for a class of kids.

TI: Oh, that's interesting. So rather than having a large schoolhouse, they had these little, like, portables, kind of.

HS: That's right, it was portables. Well, the reason, of course, was that that's, the design was already set. They were pre-fabbed, you know, they were built in this, in this big rink that they had. Although it was a mess hall in the front end, the back end had been converted into a carpenter shop, and they put it into a carpenter shop, a tin shop, so that... a plumbing shop, and they, they really started working on that. The first thing they built were the houses.

TI: So who would be, who would be building these houses?

HS: Oh, all the, our fathers and young men.

TI: Okay, so they're back there building these shacks, and then move them to --

HS: Move them in, yes. And then I have a, one of the paintings I do shows you the building of the, of the shiplap houses. And it was, they, all the rafters and joists were built, and then they would just, they would just make a floor, and then, then they put up the, put up the frame, and then fill in the frame with shiplap and roof it with shingles. At the beginning, they didn't use shingles. All they did was put tarpaper on top of shiplap, and you had the tarpapers, tarpaper roof, and the sides were, with paper installation inside and you had the joists and the studs going up into the roof area. And this is all, all prefabricated. Everything was cut. What they really, they sat there and fit them together, and they would, they would have to build a floor, because each, each floor was individual, unfortunately, but they knew exactly how each, the sides of each one, because they're either, they had these three different sizes. And so they, they figured out which ones, how many of these they would build, and then allotted a house where some families were, families were given single houses, others had, were willing to take the double ones, and then we were willing to take a double one, but we had to get a bigger one because we, we had too many people.

TI: That's interesting. So you mentioned some of these shacks were used as schools. So did you have school that first winter in New Denver?

HS: That first winter, that first winter in (1942), they had a school going by that wintertime. Yeah, they had a school going, because they built, those were some of the first houses that were built. You know, it was, in the back of everybody's mind was the fact that our, the kids were being left uneducated, and that was not good. And one of the things that they, they approached the commission about -- 'cause they, the administration became... New Denver, the town itself of New Denver, village of New Denver, had a little administration building where the RCMP were, and they had administration for the whole valley. And I know that discussions probably went in between them and the Japanese people or whoever were... they made little associations of Japanese, some of the older men would become the, what you call spokespeople for the Japanese, and they would, they negotiate what could be done in the camp. There was never any barbed wire put up or anything. The camps were completely open.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 42>

TI: Yeah, so this is a question that comes to mind. So if the Japanese Canadians were viewed as a security risk and they were moved off the coast, and yet these were communities not guarded --

HS: They were guarded. There were RCMP people there yet, and you couldn't just, you were not given the opportunity to move out anywhere, you had to, if you were going to go to one camp to another, you had to go to the guardhouse and say, you know, "I'd like go to such and such," and make arrangements. But there's no, no way for you to go to any of these places except by walking. You had no cars, no, they confiscated all the bicycles, everything, so there was no bicycles. 'Cause we had all, you wouldn't carry a bicycle to, to the camp. It was just too much weight. And there was no way of getting from one place to another except they had to have trucks for moving people. Of course, those trucks were continually bringing, bringing new people in, so the trucks were, yes, these people would have to go from one camp to another.

TI: So are you saying that, so they didn't really need fences because --

HS: They didn't need, yeah.

TI: Because it was so remote...

HS: Isolated, yes.

TI: isolated and remote that there was no place to go.

HS: No place to go. There was one road in and one road out, and there was no (transportation), and even if you did go out, where would you go? You were way in the interior of B.C., we were at least, oh, 300, 400 miles from the West Coast by them. But on top of that, you were a visible minority. If you showed up at some town, they'd know right away you, there was something (wrong), "How come you're here?" sort of idea. There was no way that you could sort of escape from that area in a way, because it was, it was isolated.

<End Segment 42> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 43>

TI: So within New Denver, you talk of it as a community. So did it start growing as a community in the sense that people started farming or building their own gardens?

HS: Oh, yeah. Everybody put a garden in the back of their house, and by the first winter, no, because we were just getting there and started right away. By the second winter, by the second season, that's 1943, anybody that had a house -- most, by '43, the spring of '43, most people were into houses. Now, there were still a few people that were still arriving, that were going into tents because the houses were, they hadn't been all built immediately, but they were building, they built, the two hundred houses were, by the first, by the end of the first winter, they had most of the two hundred houses built, and there would be... The problem with the shiplap, he got the shiplap, seven million board feet of shiplap, however, that shiplap unfortunately wasn't kiln dry. It was still wet, it was still raw lumber they got quickly, and he got it there. And of course, when that first winter came, it would shrink because of, because of the humidity. And it shrunk, and it, cracks between, cracks appeared between the boards of shiplap, which has -- you know, shiplap has a little kind of a molding that locks to each other. That's what shiplap is, it locks itself. And normally you would have, it locks and it wouldn't be a, there wouldn't be a direct access to the outside. However, when they shrunk, you suddenly had a crack developing all along the whole of the house, and you'd have cold air coming through there. And that first winter happened to be a very cold winter, and it had a lot of snow, a lot of ice. This is the first time I really saw snow of any degree, because Prince Rupert hardly ever snowed. And the first winter it did that, so it, everybody had trouble. Because all the houses did that, the insides, you'd get condensation, so you had ice forming on the inside of the house, so you had to take the ice out, chip it up and then take, throw it out. That first winter was quite bad that way.

TI: How were the homes heated, the houses heated?

HS: You had a central, central big potbelly stove that they gave us. It was a, one of those sheet metal stoves that they built. See, they were building these little stoves as well as... the tinsmith, that was one of his jobs, building the pipes and building stove, and...

TI: And these were woodburning?

HS: Woodburning stoves. And then this other thing that they, they found near New Denver was a place called Hunter's Landing. Hunter's Landing at that point had been, Hunter, I assume, had been a lumberman, and he had built a sawmill there. And that had been abandoned. Well, it was restarted again when we came in there, because all the situation was set up for, for doing lumber and making lumber, and so they, immediately they started adding, getting shiplap themselves, making it there.

TI: And who would run the lumber mill?

HS: Oh, all Japanese, younger Japanese.

TI: And so there were people that knew how to --

HS: Knew the lumber business. There was a lot of, because lumbering was natural to a lot of the people that were already lumbermen in, timbermen in the West Coast. So they would be the first ones that would get the jobs to carry out the timber work. The thing is, that the first thing we needed was firewood, so they got immediately going on that. And once the firewood -- 'cause there was no coal, it was all, it was all woodburning. And so they did get this daily, weekly, the truck would go around throwing off big hunks, pieces of trees that we could split into smaller wood pieces that you could use for, for carrying out your heating. And that was original -- and originally there was no plumbing inside, so we had to have outhouses right away, and they were built for, so many outhouses for so many buildings. And gradually everything was, there was no electricity to begin with, either, because, of course, to begin with, they hadn't, they had just got the, got the shiplap houses up, and the first thing was to give a shelter, secondly to give us, to give us light at that point was kerosene lamps and Coleman lamps, you know, those mantle lamps. And we were able to use those for the first year, and candles. We used a lot of candles. The interesting thing was very few fires occurred despite the candles. I know there was only one house that burned down, and it was a big event when that house caught fire.

TI: So did you have like a volunteer or a fire...

HS: Oh, yeah, they had all these... if you look at some of the paintings where I have Main Street, you'll see sitting up there were two red buckets that were filled with sand. It was, and that, those were supposed to be used for, in case of fire. And then we had a bucket parade. Of course, it was useless, a bucket parade to the, to the lake, and you'd carry the water to douse the flames. Well, it turned out it was almost useless. They could prevent other houses from getting burned, but that house that was burning just went up. In fact, it didn't even start from a candle. The guy had dug a hole underneath and made a, had made an illegal still to make rice wine, to make sake. And in the business of making the rice wine, some, something went wrong and the thing blew up or something, and it caught the place on fire. And of course, the whole thing went down in flames, and his main worry was that the RCMP would not find the illegal still was underneath the house. He had gone to a big trouble making this illegal still. But that was the only fire that we really knew of, that I remember that occurred.

TI: That's a good story.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 44>

TI: So I was... oh, what was I going to ask? So let's go back to the, the schools.

HS: Schools were, like I say --

TI: Who were the teachers, how was it run?

HS: Teachers, the teachers, as you know, I noticed that you had that book of Ghost Town Teachers, they were people who were from, people who were, usually were Japanese Canadians. They were, usually most of them were Niseis by that time, of course. They had been educated on the West Coast, some of them were at the university level, and there was a restriction just before the, up to the war, there was a restriction certainly up at that time that anybody of Oriental ancestry, there was a quota on them in going to UBC, the university and going into, becoming teachers. But that's about all the -- there were a few professions that were open to Asians. You couldn't be a doctor, you couldn't go into medicine, because they didn't have, well, for one thing, they didn't have a medical school there. So the other thing is you couldn't go in to be a lawyer, you couldn't be a scientist, because they didn't, they had quotas on, they even had a ban on not allowing you to go into those specialties.

TI: Quotas or bans at the university level?

HS: At the university level, so you couldn't get an education. How you could do it is a lot of the people, doctors, got their education either in Japan and then came back, came to Vancouver as qualified doctors, and then they were able to persuade the government to give them a certificate to work as a doctor, or they were going east of the Rockies and getting, like Alberta welcomed Japanese people to -- and there was quite a few doctors that were, that were graduating from the University of Alberta as full-time, -fledged general practitioners and doctors, and even further east out into Manitoba, which had a medical school. U of A had, was the only one, medical school west of the, west of the Great Lakes, almost.

TI: So there were just multiple examples of the British Columbia government really trying to get the Japanese out of...

HS: They were, they were... well, when they had the opportunity, generally speaking, when they had the opportunity to try and get rid of one group of what they call the "yellow peril," they tried their darnedest to do that. There were people there that were, were vociferous enough and were determined enough to try and get rid of Japanese because they, economically it was a problem for them. The other thing is just, they just didn't like, it was a racial thing. They were, there were a lot of racists in that government, and even to this day there probably still are a number of them. Not to the extent as they were, because there's no way that you can justify it anymore, but at that time, it was almost like "England first" and all this sort of thing. They were, there were people from, there were people from the British Isles, they didn't even have a Canadian passport. They had a British passport, but they were, they were accepted as Canadians in Canada, and of course, they were, many of them were in position of authority because of their background. And all of that made for the fact that you had... however, one thing they did allow is for the Japanese kids to go to university and get educated as educators, they became schoolteachers. And other than that, pretty well, there were a few other people's economics, they got a few and took --

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 45>

TI: Well, go back to the educators. So what was the quality of schools like at New Denver?

HS: At New Denver, the quality of school was you had schoolteachers who were, some of them were at the university level. A lot of them were people who had finished high school, completed their high school, and so that they were, not full-fledged teachers, but they became teachers because they had the full education and they knew what had gone through the curriculum of the B.C. schooling. And so we used, we followed the regular B.C. schooling curriculum, four of each of the -- we didn't have the equipment, say, things for science. They didn't have science labs or things like that, but you didn't have that much in those days. Most of it was reading, writing, arithmetic. It was basic, basic education. You had to learn the basics of history, of English, of math, of literature. That was what you might say. Now, each summer from 1943 on, each summer, they would have a summer school held in New Denver, where all the teachers, all these, these what you might call now "ghost town teachers," because they were, it's like a lot of them were, like you say, not full-fledged teachers, they were just high school graduates. And some of them were early university type, they would all congregate in New Denver to attend, I think it was a five-week course or something like that, four or five week course of summer school.

TI: For the teachers?

HS: For the teachers, yes.

TI: And so they were being trained...

HS: They were getting more, getting more advanced training to be better teachers, and they would be then sent back to their places for their teaching for the next year. So they gradually upgraded themselves.

TI: So it sounds like the quality of teaching, of education, was pretty good.

HS: It was very good when you consider where they started. They started with kids that were only eighteen or nineteen, these, some of these kids were just, or even younger. They had just come out of high school. And they gradually developed themselves into full, they would have to become teachers in the full sense. But there were was from grade one to grade eight, this was carried out in each of the, at each of the camps. Now, New Denver went to grade eight. Now, what happened in '43, the question came up, what do you do for high schools, from grade nine to twelve? And at that time, they hadn't even, the B.C. Security Commission hadn't even thought of that. All they thought was of the elementary area from... I think there was a, you had to have by law or something, you had to spend, you had to be up to grade eight or grade nine, and so they had to do this, to, they had to educate people up to grade nine. But from there on, they washed their hands of it. They said, "Well, the rest of it's up to you," sort of idea. Well, up at grade nine level, they thought, well, they could do, they could develop a correspondence course. You know, you had these correspondence areas, extension departments.

TI: I'm sorry, you're talking about in high school?

HS: High school, yeah, after grade eight. So they were going to, idea was that we would have a correspondence course. And in 1943, some nuns and a Catholic priest arrived, and they say they came to the camp and talked to the people that were, the leaders in the camp, they said, "We would like to start a kindergarten." And they said, "Well, we don't need a kindergarten. We have plenty of people who are teaching, we're teaching kids now up to grade, grade one to eight, we have 'em, we have little play schools set up, that we can do all that sort of thing. What we do need is a high school." So this, these people went away, and they came back within a short time saying, "Okay, we'll build a high school." And they were called the Sisters of Notre Dame, and they came from Eastern Canada, from Quebec, a place called Lennoxville, which is just out of Quebec city, I think, (...) but from Quebec. So they're French-speaking nuns. Six or eight of them arrived, I think, to begin with, six or eight. Somewhere in that neighborhood arrived, and they set up a high school. They bought two buildings. It was not in the "orchard area," (...) called the "orchard," and that was where the camp was. It was in the main town, village of New Denver, they bought, it was across the creek, that bridge, they bought the two houses. They bought two houses and converted them into, and they got the Japanese carpenters to go in there and convert these houses into schoolrooms, and built desks for us and everything else. And the nuns, six nuns then set up a high school and they had one priest. And so they set up this, what they call -- now it was called Notre Dame High School. [Laughs] It was Notre Dame, it wasn't the same Notre Dame of Notre Dame fame, but the sisters, who were called Sisters of Notre Dame Des Anges.

TI: Now, why didn't, I mean, given that through one through eight, you had, you were able to find Japanese Canadians to teach class, why couldn't you do that in high school, too? You had some university-trained...

HS: Well, there were very few, enough, there weren't enough... in some other places, yes, they were able to do that. In New Denver, the sisters got in there first and said they would do this, so, of course, right away, there was no need for, to... 'cause they had teachers that were of that level.

TI: Okay, so, I mean, so if they didn't show up, probably you would have done something...

HS: They would have done something. There was, but they were thinking more in terms of correspondence courses because there wasn't enough, there wasn't enough schoolteachers to go around. It was all, all the best schoolteachers that they were, people that were qualified were pretty-well used up in doing the grade one to eight.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 46>

TI: So how big did the Notre Dame High School get? I mean, how many students?

HS: Well, Notre Dame High School was, the biggest it got would be about two hundred students.

TI: Wow, so it was a sizeable...

HS: Oh, it was a sizeable, and eventually it was, the least it got was about, maybe about 150, maybe less than 150. But the thing about it was we had some top-notch teachers amongst them. Well, French, for instance, they all spoke French. They were completely immersed in French, they knew how to teach French immediately. But we also had music, there was a, some of them were musicians, but they also had math, history, all these things at the high school level.

TI: Now, I want to understand -- and they taught this all in French?

HS: They could, no, not in French, but in English.

TI: Oh, so they were bilingual.

HS: They were bilingual, all of them were completely bilingual. We're talking about high quality people in this area. It's surprising that the sisters, some of them, came, of course, came from very prominent families. For instance, one that was called Sister St. Raphael was a very beautiful nun. Her family, her father, was one of the executives of Dupont in New Jersey, but she had, of course, become a sister and gone up to, to Lennoxville. They arrived, in fact, during the time they arrived in a great big Cadillac convertible, hardly getting by those narrow streets. It was so big, but it would cause a sensation, of course, this huge car. They had come all the way from New Jersey to see how their daughter was doing. One summer they arrived, I've forgotten what summer it was, about the summer of '44 or '45, they showed up. And it was, it was, they had a spectacular car because it was a great big, one of those 1945, '44 convertible Cadillacs, that had those big fins and things like that.

TI: And they drove from New Jersey?

HS: They had driven up all the way from New Jersey. And so you were, and then I know that, I was told that one of the sisters, who's a music teacher, her father had been vice president of CNR at that time. CNR would have been the equivalent of Amtrak or whatever the railroad, or Santa Fe, one of those big, big railway setups. So, and all of the teachers were, an area of expertise that they had were really quite knowledgeable. They were really expert people in each of the fields that we had. So much so that the education that we received, which was still basic education, still reading, writing and arithmetic, we didn't have, we had very little, we had no lab equipment, we had no field trips, of course, you didn't need field trips, everything was put into things like French, Latin, literature, history, social studies that they used to call it then, and math, especially math, and sciences. And so each, each teacher had certain expertise in each of these areas. We had six of them, and we had grades from grade nine to twelve, and each year they graduated people from our high school. And in fact, when I left, I left, of course, we left in '46, so I was still not graduated. I had started, by time of, by the fall of '43, they got the school going -- by the winter of '43. We were a little bit slow on the mark in terms of the, my grade nine, but we were, they caught us up. We worked on it, and so I got up to grade eleven, and then I went, when my sister and I were, she was also a year behind me, so she was in high school by the time we left New Denver, came to Edmonton, both of us, when we went to Garnell High School in Edmonton, which was a big, big city high school. Here we came from some hole in the wall. Well, within a month or two, both of us were at the top of our classes in (the big city school).

TI: So the education you were getting at New Denver was, was that kind of...

HS: It was excellent, yeah, no question about it. We received, it was basic, but you got some very (good classes). in fact, when I went there, my French, I was an average student. I wasn't a brilliant student or anything like that, there were other ones much more brilliant that I were, I was. But even my basic French that I received there, when I got to, got to Edmonton, I remember the French teacher coming up to me and said she's entering me into the French competition in the province. I said, "Why?" She said, "Because your French is so good." I said, "Well, no, my French is very average." I really, I can't go into a competition like that, because I know my French is not that good. "Oh, yes, your..." well, I was so much ahead of the rest of the class, that's just because they were not, it wasn't a, it wasn't a, French was a necessity for, for getting to university, but it wasn't something that they spent very much time with. And so my French was so much better than the average in the class. Eventually, she relented and said, "Okay, you don't have to go in it." I was relieved that I didn't get into the French competition, because they would have found out how average I was.

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 47>

TI: So this is, so I'm thinking, so the nuns and the priests at Notre Dame High School did this incredible job. I mean, did the community ever acknowledge them while this was happening or afterwards?

HS: Well, the funny thing about it is that while it was going on, the education, they appreciate the fact that they were, they were being, educating their kids, but the nuns also decided that they had to bring a little bit of culture and education to the women of the camp. And they put on cooking classes and things, and as a great, one of the paintings I do is called "The French Cooking Class." Their, the nuns were very enthusiastic about doing everything that was, they thought would improve our lives, and your lifestyle. They put on these French cooking classes, but of course, the problem is their cooking isn't, it's not Japanese cooking, okay, so they're, they're way out of it, but they go at it with a great enthusiasm thinking that they're doing us a great favor. And, of course, there's a painting that I did of the French cooking class, and there are about fifty ladies from the, from the camp, all in their best finery. And you know, they had fur coats with, they had coats with fur collars, and the Sunday best sort of thing, coming to this cooking class, and I have the nun showing them how to make French, French desserts. I forgot what it was, maybe a cake or something. Well, of course, that was completely (wrong). We didn't have the supplies for it, for one thing, you didn't have, we wouldn't be wasting our money to get, and you only had so much butter that you can get at a time. You wouldn't use it for making a cake or French pastries. But they still went ahead with these things thinking that they were (...) really helping us. And they, every year we had to have a concert which they organized and everything, and we had to learn to do things like a French minuet, and the English maypole dances. All these sort of unusual, unusual type dancing routines that were, may have been okay in Quebec city, but out in New Denver, (...) our parents were completely mystified as to what was going on, but they, they appreciated the effort.

TI: But they thought that some of these things were impractical.

HS: Yeah, of course they were impractical, but they, they did it because they thought you have to be well-rounded. They have to get the kids, they even wanted us to learn to dance, because that's one of the things, the social graces was important for them. And we were, of course, completely dumbfounded, the fact that we had no idea how to dance or do anything, we were kids, we were fourteen- and fifteen-year-old kids at that time, and they thought... we wanted sports, and that was it. They did sports for us, but the main thing was they wanted the social reaction between male and female, which we were, at that point in our lives, we were not interested in because we were all amongst the boys, the girls amongst the girls. But they did it nevertheless. They did, they tried as much as possible to round you up as a citizen. In a way, they might have been thinking, "What'll happen to these guys if they ever go back into the Canadian society?" And one of the things you have to realize, in a camp, a lot of people that were there never thought of it. But again, you mentioned it again, you were in a group where all the same. No matter who you had been before, now you're in a camp, and you're all the same, and we're all of Japanese ancestry. It never occurred to them that we were Japanese ancestry. We did all the, the things like every average Canadian boy would have done, except we did everything outside. And everything you did was makeshift. I mean, we played baseball and things of that... just like you would in your camps. We did baseball, played hockey in the wintertime, we had never had the opportunity to play hockey when we were in Prince Rupert, there was no ice. Nobody had indoor ice at that time, it was too, too... it was something in the future. But now, we could go on the ponds that, in the wintertime in New Denver, and you'd play hockey, and so we learned to play hockey. We learned to play, well, we had baseball, they, and then skiing, we built our own skis to learn how to ski. So winter was a wonderful time there, because you had a lot of snow, and it really had the four seasons in New Denver. You had summer, all the, all the seasons were very distinct. So as far as kids are concerned, they did very well. And the, and the kind of activities that went on there, and the friends you made -- and it may be true even to this day, I know it's true to this day, that the friends you made in those days became the friends for a lifetime, because you were so close for four or five years, that we were all together as a community. And they had, the Japanese community never, I don't believe they had as many Bon Odoris, you know, the business of... and the interesting thing is many of the families, despite the fact you were limited how much luggage you could bring and whatnot, they all brought their kimonos and their Japanese things which they felt.

<End Segment 47> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 48>

TI: There was a sense of Japanese culture even in...

HS: Culture, oh, yeah. That was very, and it probably flourished more in the camps because you, for once in your life, you could do this without any restriction. We did all this, and nobody ever told you you couldn't do this. The only thing you weren't allowed to do, if some guy wanted to put up the Japanese flag in the camp, you see, it would, that would cause a great problem with the RCMP.

TI: And perhaps in addition to no restrictions, there was probably more time.

HS: Oh, yeah, there was nothing else to do.

TI: Especially for the adults...

HS: Adults, mostly adults, like my father worked, there was a sanitarium that went up there to look for (...) TB and the chronically ill. They built this big sanitarium hospital building, it was finished by the winter of '43, and then all the, they really literally had to get every person of Japanese ancestry off the coast. There had been a number of them who were paraplegics, TB, chronically ill people who were in hospitals in Vancouver and along the West Coast. They were eventually shipped out to New Denver and put into this hospital there, which had a hundred beds. And my father, who worked in that hospital, so did Mr. Nishikaze, the cook, of course, he became the cook, the major cook for that place. And he would go there early in the morning and he would get the stoves going, he would wash the dining room, wash the kitchen, get it all set, and set up the menu. And by noon, he was finished. He might have made some bread, but other than that, he did, he said he did not do any extensive cooking there. He set up the menu and how they're supposed to do it, he told people how they're supposed to bake this, and then by noon he was finished, and he would come back to the house. And from thereon, he was free. Well, he decided, well, everybody had built vegetable gardens, but he, for some reason, decided he'll build a rock garden, and he did this for the next five years, every day. He built this rock garden...

TI: So more of a traditional Japanese type of rock garden?

HS: No, he had no idea, he was not a gardener. He had to go and ask people how to, how to put in the flowers, and which flower. He had to, people had to teach him. In fact, he went to, he happened to go to the village of New Denver and saw some nice gardens there that people had put in there, and so he talked to these people about what he should do, and they gave him plants to put in his place. They told him where, what he should do, he went along the riverbed and picked up rocks. And he would carry rocks daily, bringing rocks into this rock garden, and eventually, it got so big and so many big rocks that he, friends built him a wheelbarrow so he could bring it in, and then that was even too big, too much, so they even used to go out in the truck, and truck in huge boulders for him so that he could build this rock garden. And he kept building this for, for, like I say, for five years. And it became quite a huge, it became an attraction because (...) so big. I don't know how many acres it was, but it went up about twenty feet high, but it was not a Japanese garden. But like I say, people came from all over to see this place. They came from Nelson, B.C., and they looked at it, and some guy, some photographer there decided, "Hey, this is something," so he took a picture of it and then he started making postcards of this Japanese rock garden. But when you look at it, it's not a Japanese rock garden.

TI: But it had a Japanese influence, probably.

HS: Japanese influence, that's it. But it was not like a Japanese garden. Absolutely different from an ordinary Japanese garden, because Mr. Nishikaze didn't even know what a Japanese garden was in a lot of ways. He did have a little (idea), he remotely remembered ones in Japan when he was young, but he came to Canada when he was fifteen, so he didn't have, his ideas of a garden was as much as you, put in as much as you can, and he did everything. Made little ponds, made a little waterfall, but the waterfall had no water in it, other than the fact when he had the pail of water and he put the waterfall in.

TI: So here's a great example of someone, if he were in Prince Rupert, he'd be busy just working.

HS: Working all the time, that's right.

TI: And actually having more time to --

HS: That's right, that's all he did.

TI: -- to purse a activity, a hobby.

HS: A hobby. And Nishikaze was the fellow that supposedly was supposed to die of cancer of the stomach back in '36. Well, he was, like I say, he somehow recovered, and ever since then, he somehow had this idea that he wanted the opportunity to make a rock garden, so away he went and did this. And this rock garden eventually, the unfortunate part of it is that when he left, and he went to the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal, he put it in the care of some of the people, locals, and they looked after it for a few months, and then eventually it, it was bulldozed down, because they needed more room for a road or something like that.

TI: Oh no, how unfortunate.

HS: And it's gone. There's not a vestige, there's not a piece of it that's survived, other than the fact that he built a little gate out of rock, and somebody told me some, he saw that in another garden someplace around there. Somebody had, had retrieved that part and made it into, put it in his own garden.

TI: So I'm curious, in a similar way, did you, we had asked earlier where you had, had some art training back at Prince Rupert. Did you pursue or did you do any art at New Denver?

HS: There I, yes, we did have, we have an art, we did have an art, area of art -- no, there were was kind of a pseudo-art class at the high school. Not a, not a exceptionally hard, most of it was we, they would ask us to do some drawing every once in a while, that was done, that was all it was. There was really no art class, so to speak.

<End Segment 48> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 49>

TI: I guess one question I have, in terms of, within the community, was there any resentment about being there? I mean, were there discussions of people who felt that --

HS: Yeah, there was a lot of discussion, and of course, at the time, there was continual pressure put on by the B.C. Security Commission to get people out of these camps, go east, or sign up to go to Japan. And to go back to Japan, they sort of put a little bait out there, they would pay everybody two hundred dollars plus the fact they would ship everything that they had out to Japan for them. And they, each individual would receive two hundred dollars. So this was a kind of a bait they put out to try and get them to sign up to go back to Japan. And, of course, majority of the people looked at that and said, "Why would I go -- " most of the younger people said, "Why? I'm not Japanese, I'm Canadian." And so they did get about, oh, eventually they got about, oh, seven or eight thousand people to sign up, and then about half of them said, no, they don't want to go after all.

TI: Oh, so roughly a third of the people signed up initially, and then half of those people --

HS: Initially, and then half of those --

TI: -- had second thoughts.

HS: -- set aside. And that was because the war ended. You see, the war ended by that time. The initial people who signed up, who were determined to go back to Japan, because they said, "They don't want us here in Canada, we'll go back to Japan." That's where I -- but those were, of course, the parents were making that decision, and so that the families that were going there, the younger members had no say as to where they were going to, whether they were gonna go or not. So a good, two or three thousand eventually got on the, actually got on the boat and went back to Japan, so there is a good portion of what you call Japanese citizens -- Canadian citizens living in Japan, of Japanese ancestry. And there is a, as a matter of fact, even to this day, they have a society of Japanese Canadians who are living -- and they are of Japanese descent, but all born in Canada.

TI: Did some of those Japanese Canadians, or Japanese that went back to Japan, after being in Japan, did they, did some of them decide that it wasn't for them and come back to Canada?

HS: A lot of them did. A good portion of them did come back...

TI: And how did the Canadian government treat that? Was that something that...

HS: Well, to begin with, that was... until, see, up until, they kept the War Measures Act and the restrictions on Japanese up going until 1949. In '49, they finally, after pressure, they had to allow Asians to become, Canadian-born Asians to become citizens. Prior to that point, the B.C. government were able to have some control over this by denying the local Japanese at that time -- even though you were, as my father was a naturalized Canadian, he was not allowed to vote. So he didn't have the vote, and as a result of local elections, not being allowed to vote in B.C. also negated the fact that he was not on the voter's list in the federal government, too. They also followed that rule that no Asian would be allowed to vote in the federal election, the government of Canada election. Well, that all went by the board, and so that, in 1949, they had to allow everyone, and even up, just before that, they had been, the Indians themselves, the aborigines had been denied the vote, and they had to give them the vote after World War II, because they couldn't justify saying that they were not Canadians, 'cause they were all born in Canada. So they had to give them the vote. It became an issue.

TI: And this was about -- I'm sorry, what year was this?

HS: Well, for Japanese, it was 1949. You know, four years after the end of the war, they finally said, "Yes, Japanese Canadians, people that were born in Canada have to be given the vote, and they're Canadians." So when that happened, took out all the restrictions that were, had been placed, and we could now move back to B.C. They could not prevent us from going back to B.C. if we wanted.

TI: That was four years, again, four years after the war, 1949?

HS: Yeah.

TI: So that's good.

<End Segment 49> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 50>

TI: I wanted to now go back again, during that period when the government was encouraging people to either go east or to Japan, was there a lot of discussion or friction within New Denver about what people should do?

HS: Oh, yes. They used to have meetings, there was a lot of meetings in the, in the camps about this. And there were, there were certainly a core of Japanese Isseis that were so dead against staying in Canada that they were trying to persuade as many to go back to Japan with them. Because, "They didn't want us, we have to go back to Japan." And all their experience had been that whatever the, the government of B.C., during all that period they were in B.C., they were never given the vote, they were never allowed to be, other than fishermen or maybe the, at the most, schoolteachers, but they couldn't be lawyers, they couldn't be this (and that)... although out of the province, yes, in Canada, but they were basing it on the B.C. restrictions.

TI: And so within the camp, was there sort of heated disagreements about...

HS: Oh, there was heated disagreement, but it never came to a major revolt-type situation where these people going back to Japan (...), they caused a (real) fuss, (...)... there was too many people who felt it's, there's nothing for us in Japan. They don't want us there. When the war ended and they had lost and there was nothing left in Japan, many people realized they would be a burden to the people that were (there) -- and, of course, they had no place to go, a lot of them.

TI: And those were pretty much the two primary options, either go back to Japan or go east.

HS: Go east. East of the Rockies, they wanted us out (of B.C.).

TI: Because staying in British Columbia was discouraged.

HS: No option, yeah. By 1949, that changed. They could no longer push you to get out of B.C., so in New Denver, that was one of the last places where a lot of Japanese people were still there. They just stayed there, and they are still there; those families are still there today. Having, in 1949, when that restriction went on, they said, "Okay, now we don't have to move." And so they, they were old enough -- a lot of them were older, old-age patients. The living was too good in New Denver; the living was cheap there. They could grow all, most of all, they could grow everything that could, mostly all their vegetables. They, the only thing they had to buy were a bit of meat and stuff like that, they were being, getting their pension by that time. They would receive pension like anybody else, old-age pensions.

TI: So to this day, is there still a Japanese Canadian community in New Denver?

HS: Oh, yes, still there.

TI: About how large? I'm curious.

HS: Oh, at one point it was quite large. It would be, I forgot, I was talking to this guy Hayashi, who you saw in the film, and he, he estimated at one time maybe there might have been, oh, up to thirty to fifty families there, still, when we, when the camp officially closed. It officially closed in 1947/'48. They thought that everybody was out. By 1951, they had decided, well, they're not leaving, so they decided they would give them their houses. They deeded, like they gave them the deed to the house, you might say. Just a piece of, piece of little property there.

<End Segment 50> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 51>

TI: Let's talk about your family. What decision did...

HS: Well, my, see, we were, we were being pushed to leave, and by, by the fact that Mrs. Nishikaze, their family, there's one girl in that family, Chea, became a nun. She wanted to become a nun because (of) her experience with the nuns. And she also had that leaning towards Catholicism before. When we were in the camp, despite the fact that we were all going (to) Catholic schools, there were only two Catholic, Catholic families in, in New Denver. And during the time that we were going to school, one of the things that they had said that they would not do is discuss religion, so they never did. But she became a nun eventually by the end of that time, by the end of the '46/'47, she decided they were going to become nuns, so she, so she became a nun and they left. The school closed down and she stayed on and became a nun. At that, in '46, through her influence on the nuns there and they, and their discussions with, with people in Edmonton, the monsignor in Edmonton said, "Okay, the Shimizu family wants to come out east beyond the Rockies, how about coming to Edmonton? We can find you jobs and we can arrange things that you can board your children and you can come to Edmonton." So my father and mother took that chance, they became, they worked at the Misericordia Hospital, myself and Grace, we became, we boarded at the hospital, and we started working as elevator operators for, as to, to... what you might call, we would do it on weekends so that the regular ones could have their day off. So we took those jobs, and we boarded in the hospital for two years.

TI: So this was through the Catholic church?

HS: Yeah, through the Catholic church. And our two younger kids, Ken and Eva, were boarded into Sacred Heart church, was a boarding school church. And they took them there in Sacred Heart school, and they stayed there for the next two years, until my father was able to get enough money put around by working, and that money he had saved in the sale of our (restaurant), whatever he was able to save from Prince Rupert, and to buy places for us to stay in town.

<End Segment 51> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 52>

TI: Okay, so we had... we're now in hour six, and we had just ended talking about how, or why you went to Edmonton, the Catholic church, and they provided the jobs for not only your parents but the two of you boarding, so that... before we talk more about Edmonton, you had just also mentioned how your father was able to sell some things from the Prince Rupert place, and I just wanted to, in general, talk about how that all worked in terms of all the property --

HS: The B.C. Security Commission, in an effort to try and... it was really in an effort to prevent us from going back to the West Coast, because of the pressure of politicians and some other people that, economic, people that were in associations of fishermen and things like that, they didn't want us to come back. So they decided that they would sell our properties, which they were, it was under their -- they were sort of at the time, custodians of our property. They just came out and said that, "We're going to sell your property," they did sell it. And it was, no question, I gave you that letter by that guy about that Rafe (...). That's exactly what they did. People bought these properties at fire, what you call fire (sale).

TI: Fire sale.

HS: Fire sale prices. And so Papa had the restaurant and a few of these, he and his partner had a few of these houses, and he got a few thousand dollars out of that whole deal.

TI: Now, did the government sell it to the family that was renting it? I'm curious who this...

HS: We don't know. I don't know the exact, because he never mentioned who it was that took over these properties, but they were sold to whoever happened to, they were put on sale on auction, I don't know how they did it. But most of it was on auction, and people bought, like the boat I found in, the Japanese fishing boat, same idea. They were just sold on auction, they may have had a number of auctions in which property was sold, they might have been sold also to veterans from the war, that were given the opportunity to have a first say in buying these things as a reward for having, having been in the army and stuff like that.

TI: So this is probably, again, probably a difference between the United States and Canada. I couldn't imagine that happening in the United States.

HS: It would have been difficult because you guys still had a Constitution. And there, and there was a, you had a, and your, and individual rights.

TI: To property...

HS: To property. Whereas in Canada, you didn't have a Constitution of that nature.

TI: So the government, through the War Measures Act, was able to just say...

HS: They were using the War Measures Act to do everything, you see.

TI: "We can just sell the property."

HS: "We can sell it," that's, that's our, we can do it legally.

TI: And then this money was then, what did they do with it?

HS: That money that you sold it for, we got some eventually, but before that, a lot of that money that came was used to actually pay for our internment in the internment camps. [Laughs] They pay for a lot of the expenses of doing that, then all the bills that came up, they then said, "Well, you have to pay for all this stuff that you guys had, train rides and all that sort of thing." So...

TI: The materials to build the shacks.

HS: Shacks, and the materials...

TI: The food.

HS: That's right. So they, they were using it to sort of, to house ourselves. So we, that was done on the basis of the War Measures Act, and the Order in Council. This had never been brought up in Parliament. Once it got into Parliament, then that's when that '49, 1949, when people began to, there was in, there were members of that, of the government that got up and said, "Look, what are you doing about these people? These are Canadians, you can't treat them the way you have been treating them," and eventually they had to back down. In fact, these people that said that they, who had signed up, they were determined to send them, but then there was so much problems showing up at the legislative, no, at the parliament building area, MPs were sticking up for some of the Japanese people. They said, "You can't do this. These are Canadian citizens." Like they said, "Go back to the country where you came from." Well, it was. The only country that they came from was Canada. So they said, "You have to rescind these orders," and finally they did rescind those orders of those, of people going back to Japan said, "We will no longer send any back." And then, at that point, you have, have a situation that began to simmer. Eventually that, it just died away. They gave these houses to the people that lived in New Denver. I don't know if they paid anything for --

<End Segment 52> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 54>

TI: So your mother and father, after the war, worked at, at these rooming houses, essentially?

HS: Yes, after, after... we went first to the Misericordia Hospital, he was there for two years doing, getting ready, and in the meanwhile, looking for property and keeping an eye on what he was going to do next, and that's when we got into the rooming house business. And then we, when we got our own place, by that time, I was, finished high school, and I was, my work, marks were good enough that I got into pre-med right away, so I got into medicine right away. And two years after that --

TI: And this was within the university...

HS: University of Alberta, yeah.

TI: University of Alberta.

HS: Yeah. Because, and that's, to some degree, it always reflected to me about the quality of the education I received, because, like I say, we didn't, both my sister and myself, we did not take a backseat to anyone there in Edmonton. And on top of that, within two years, I'm into pre-med at the University of Alberta, and so I graduated in '54. And in the meanwhile, by this time, we, Papa's rooming house, rooming houses, business, was going pretty strong, and he was making a living at that. But no, the other thing, he became blind before, by 1956. He became blind before. As a matter of fact, he become blind, he never met, he met Joan only through (her) voice.

TI: So how, how did he become blind? Was it something, an accident?

HS: No, it was macular degeneration, and in those days, they didn't know what to do with it. It was (1952), I remember him, he was, I was (at the university hospital) when it happened, and I took him to see the top ophthalmologist at that time, the old professor of ophthalmologist --

TI: I'm going to ask you to move your hand so it's not on that, on that mike.

HS: Was the top ophthalmologist in, at the professor of ophthalmology in Edmonton. He went to see him, and he said to him, "You have macular degeneration, there's nothing we can do. It's too late."

TI: So that must have been very difficult for him.

HS: Yeah.

TI: Your mother during this period, what, how was she taking restarting?

HS: Oh, she made the best of it. She did, matter of fact, she did, she only worked as a, she helped in, helped in looking after the rooming houses with my dad especially after that, because that's 1956, and it's, it's... we went there, it's ten years after we left the internment camp, and by this time he's blind. We, so my mother, by this, never did work outside the house other than the business of looking after my dad as well as looking after the rooming houses. And my father did as much as he could do. He did a lot of the janitorial work even though he was blind. He was able to do a lot of the janitorial work, and eventually, the, they sold the rooming houses, and one, they had to sell it to the, to the local government, because it was gonna be provincial government, he had to pay --

TI: For the courthouse.

HS: -- for the courthouse, and then the other place he kept for another few more years and eventually sold that. And they had made enough money from both of those to buy themselves a place to stay. And he, and so we had another place that he stayed, and eventually went, another house they stayed for about ten years, and in a, and then went to a condominium from there on in. My father lived to be, into 1982, and he died at ninety-five. And so from '56 to '92, he was blind all during that period.

TI: From '56 to '82.

HS: '82, '82, yeah.

<End Segment 54> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 55>

TI: Now, I'm curious about just, Edmonton in terms of... did very many Japanese Canadians resettle in the Edmonton area?

HS: Not a lot at the beginning. A few began to, there was a lot of them that came, southern Alberta was the destination for a lot of them who came from the West Coast, and they went working for the sugar beets. And they made their way, eventually some of them made their way eventually to become a situation where they could send their children to university and so quite a few of them came up from the south, came to Edmonton to work, to go to university, and then a lot of them stayed in Edmonton to whatever professional areas they got into. About 1949, there was no restriction. Well, even in 1946, there was no restriction in what you could do in Alberta. We could go in law, although law did have some restrictions still going on. I mean, they, it would be a gentleman's agreement that they wouldn't, say, have Orientals there at the beginning, in the early 1940s or '50s. But gradually they, those restrictions were dropped, and people came.

TI: So in general, would you say the, the climate, like the racial climate was better in Edmonton than in, say, on...

HS: Officially it was better, yes.

TI: Officially, but how about just amongst the people?

HS: Amongst the people, well, there weren't enough of us to make a big (issue).

TI: Well, maybe, yeah, so just like if you're an Edmonton person, how would they generally, or how was your reaction or relationship with the Edmonton people?

HS: It never came as a problem, you know that? It was, we were, from the very beginning, we found the, when I went to University of Alberta, I was treated just like any other university student. Even though I was, that I was a visible minority. But they had enough, they had enough Japanese people go through the periods long before, I mean, there was a long tradition of association with people from Japan, prominent people, and like the Prince Takamado and people like that, that that idea had been promulgated years ago, relationships that, these are direct relationships because that was the only university that would accept, say, Japanese students from Japan. And that was the only, that was, like, they could go out to Toronto or Winnipeg, but Alberta was the closest to the West Coast. And the medical school, like I say, they had graduated a number of Japanese students that went on into medicine, and there was, so there was a tradition there that they continued to honor. So there was no question, as long as my qualifications were right, I could get into pre-med.

<End Segment 55> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 56>

TI: Okay, so let's talk about your career a little bit. So you went into pre-med, and then to med school.

HS: Then I went, pre-med goes directly into med school, so it's like a six-year course, so you get two years of pre-med, you end up, and then you get four years of medicine. And by the fourth, by the second year of medicine, you've spent four years in, in university. So at that point, if you can get, you're still in medicine, if you haven't flunked out by then, they'll give you a B.S.C. So, and then at another two more years, you finish your med school, now you get your M.D. So by the time I ended off in the six years I put together, they gave me what you call a B.S.C.M.D. So you had a Bachelor of Science --

TI: B.S. is Bachelor of Science...

HS: Science, plus an M.D. So at that point, you end up as, then you decide, "What am I gonna do next?" You're, so I had no desire to continue and, say, become a general practitioner, although the ones I knew, the Japanese that had gone through, previously all, most of them become general practitioners. A few, there was one guy who had gone into obstetrics and became an obstetrical specialist, and he had been there before the, he had been there before the war. He actually came from Victoria, and he had been there before the war.

TI: Well, I'm curious now, what, why did you decide medicine?

HS: Hmm?

TI: Why medicine?

HS: Well, when I, we discussed this, my mother to some degree thought that might be a good area, what else am I gonna go into? We had no, had no experience in other areas, medicine, they decided, would be, if I can get into medicine, it would be a, a profession other than law, that some were going into. I didn't know of any other. Now, a lot of them, a lot of Japanese that went into commerce, which I had no, we had no background for that. My mother knew a number of doctors, Japanese doctors, and she always admired them and what they were able to do. So she --

TI: So this decision was influenced by your parents. Your parents --

HS: Parents to a large degree, and by, and we'd always, and we did discuss this, as to what area should I go into, and medicine sort of won out. And so that's how I got into medicine. Once I finished my medical career, I thought, well, graduated in '54, decided, well, what am I gonna do now? I could, I was reluctant to go into general practice, I didn't know, I was still, mentality, I was still back in the ghost towns. Here we were, amongst all Japanese people, now I'm in Edmonton, and I don't see any of them. I lose all my Japanese contacts and my Japanese language because I'm not speaking Japanese again anymore. So the only contacts I had were some Japanese Canadians who only spoke English, and they were, they were people who lived, had lived in Alberta all their lives. They had not been affected by the war, like Roy Kiyoko, who was, became a big Canadian artist. And he couldn't speak Japanese anyhow. I decided, well, I should go into a specialty, and then I thought about that. And I was working at the time, I was in surgery, a resident in surgery at the University of Alberta hospital, resident in surgery, and one day, I got a call from the chief of surgery, who was a very powerful, politically powerful medical person. 'Cause he was directly connected to the American College of Surgeons, and he had many friends, and he was, in fact, at one point, he was the regent of the American College of Surgeons. Although here he was, a surgeon in Edmonton, Alberta, but he was, he was so well-liked, and he was so knowledgeable that he became a regent of the American College. He called me down to, from the OR, and I went down there, not knowing what was going on. And he said to me, "Henry," he said, "got to think of your future. What are you gonna do? Are you gonna just stay in general surgery, or what are you gonna do?" I thought, "Well, gee, there's this new area that's just developing, plastic surgery." He says, "Okay, you want to be, you want to consider treating, going into plastic surgery?" I said, "I'd love to." He said, "Okay," picks up the phone, phones the chief of surgery at three places: one in New York, Pittsburgh, and a fellow in Kansas City, and another guy in Galveston, Texas. And these are areas where plastic surgery was really strong. And he says, "I think these are areas," so he talked to these people, and he said, the guy said, "Well, I think these three, I can give you three places you should go to. One in Pittsburgh, one in New York and Albany, and one in Duke, North Carolina." Duke was, at that time, was what you call the Harvard of the South. So I go to all three places, and eventually, the place in Pittsburgh takes me on. And that's --

TI: So why, why did this chief of surgery single you out like this?

HS: Well, he was, he wanted all his, he was the chief of surgery, and he wanted all his boys, as he called them, to do well. He wanted them to become prominent. That's what he wanted. And he wanted me to be, says, and, "Henry, you've got the potential to become a surgeon," but from the reports that he gets from all of his staffpeople, what I was doing in the hospital. So he decides he'll give me a chance to see what I can do. So I go to Pittsburgh, and, with the idea that he will, then I will come back to Edmonton, and that I would then work at the university hospital and we would develop a division of plastic surgery. That was in the back of his mind, he's thinking ahead about how he was, he was always having like that, research, he wanted the research department to become big time. He had big, big ambitions for everybody in his division, in the department of surgery. He was very, we don't have very many people like that anymore, but he was, he knew everybody. He knew the people in England, he was, he was well-known in the British medical schools, medical area, and he was really well-known to Americans. In fact, he was so well-known that somebody remembers him being at the College of Surgeons in Chicago where he was introducing surgeons from eastern United States to the surgeons from western United States. He was the one guy that knew both of them. He knew them all.

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<Begin Segment 57>

TI: I'm curious, by being of Japanese ancestry, was that ever a hindrance or a help in your career in, as a plastic surgeon?

HS: Well, I don't know if it was a hindrance or a help. I, I was, all the time was at, with Walter Mackenzie in University of Alberta, I was treated like any other resident. If I did my job and did it well, he felt that I, he would reward me with giving his effort to do the best he can, because he wanted us to be in a position where we could really do something worthwhile in medicine. 'Cause he was thinking in terms of what was gonna happen to the medical school. Its development in Canada, the medical school in Alberta, over the years had developed a pretty good reputation in comparison to Toronto and Montreal, that were the, the big guns. He never took, he was never, like he said to me, says, "I can get you into the best plastic surgery residency in the United States, but I can't do that in Canada. Toronto and Montreal are closed as far as you're concerned." They were, just, it was just too difficult to try and push into those areas. "But I can do," he said, "I can get you into the best place in the States," and sure enough he did. And I got into Pittsburgh, when I came back from my training in Pittsburgh, there was another fellow, I joined him as an associate, he was two or three years ahead of me, Mac Alton. He was, he was trained in England, and he did a bit of work in (Montreal) and a bit of work in New York, but he came back mainly English-trained. I was American-trained, and the two of us, he said, he wanted to start a division of plastic surgery at the University of Alberta. This would become probably the first division of plastic surgery east of the Great Lakes. Everything else had been in Toronto and Montreal You didn't have a training center in western Canada where you could get your own residents and get your own training.

By 1967 -- I came back, I left in '60 to go to Pittsburgh, came back in '62, and by '65, we had a division. And we trained our first resident in plastic surgery at the University of Alberta. And the interesting thing is he happened to be Japanese. Not Japanese born in Canada, Japanese born in Japan, who had gone to the States, did research, and then became an, became, originally, became an American citizen, and then came to Canada and did research in Canada, and became a Canadian citizen. And we took him on as, as our first resident. The second guy was a guy from England who came and trained with us. And it wasn't 'til the third person that we got a real Canadian in terms of a guy who was born in Canada, and we trained him.

<End Segment 57> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 58>

TI: We have about thirty minutes left on this tape, so I'm going to kind of skip around a little bit.

HS: Yeah.

TI: But when you look at your career in plastic surgery, I know it was a long and illustrious career.

HS: Yeah, thirty-five years.

TI: But what are, what are a few of the highlights --

HS: Milestones?

TI: -- or achievements that --

HS: Well, the milestones in that, in '78, well, in '73, here we are in the middle of our residency program. By '70s, late '70s, I, Mac and I had decided that there's some new fields opening up in plastic surgery. One of those fields was microsurgery, that is joining very small vessels together using a microscope. So we decided we, we have to start developing that, that's going to become big in the future. And we sent one of our residents back to, to train with a fellow in San Francisco, a fellow by the name of Harry Bunke, who was, knew Mac from having trained in Montreal. He had trained in Canada, and his wife was French Canadian. So he was glad to take our resident, our chief resident, go there and train. Well, Gary came back, the day he came back was in July of 1973, 15th, he came back, I had lunch with him, and he said to me, "By the way, Henry, I have these sutures in my hand." These were the first what you call number 10 nylon sutures on little needles, you can't really see. You have to see them under a microscope. If you throw 'em up in the air, they'll just float. They were very fine sutures. He says, "You know, we could do some microsurgery if we have a case.

So I went back to the office (after) lunch. I go back to the office, am no sooner in the office than I get a call, about three o'clock in the afternoon, I get a call from a guy in the country, (a town called Rimby). He says, "I have a problem. There's a little girl here that got her arm cut off. Can we send her up, and you can do something for her?" I said, "Well, what did you do with the part that was cut off?" "Oh," he said, "the father was, had enough sense to grab it and bring it with him." I said, "Okay, do this and send her, send the kid up by ambulance." They got it up, and I organized a, immediately, we were, fortunately, everything worked in, you might call serendipity. We just happened to have an anesthetist that was available at a small hospital. Not the main university hospital. That hospital had been closed, the OR was closed because of air conditioning problems, and they're reconditioning the air conditioning, so the whole OR is closed. Gary I got a hold of, and he said, "Look, we can do it in emergency." I said, "No, we'll go to Charle Camsol," which was an Indian hospital, actually, a small hospital. I phoned over there, and they said, "Yeah, the anesthetist is just going out," and the girl's, Bailey said, I said, "By the way, we're gonna try and do microsurgery, and we're gonna try and join these fine little vessels together. Do you know what instruments we might need?" She said, "Yes, I do know." I said, "Well, how come you know?" She says, "Well, I did, in Australia when I was there, I had worked in the OR where the first replant was done in the commonwealth, and that was done a year ago."

TI: Oh, so this is, everything was coming together.

HS: Everything coming together. The anesthetist had been leaving, he came back he, she had to call him out of the parking lot and he came back and he says, "I'm available. Send the kid over. We'll get the OR set." So the kid comes in, I hear at three o'clock, the kid comes in, about four or five, by this time it's four or five o'clock. They had the OR ready by six o'clock. We did the operation, and we had the arm on by twelve o'clock. So from three to twelve, that's nine hours. That was the maximum time before your tissues begin to die. Well, we got this arm put together, and it survived. It was the first successful, functioning arm that was ever put together in North America. We did... you know, the university hospital, well, we were, it was the, Gary and myself were university-trained, we got the orthopedic surgeon, was also a university-trained person, but it was done at the, this Indian hospital, this aboriginal hospital. And we had help from residents and whatnot, but we got this arm going, it survived, not only it survived, it functioned. Every, every previous case, there was only one case previously that had been in Boston way back in the '50s. It had survived, but that was all. It was not functioning. They had tried one in Calgary, it deteriorated and became gangrenous.

TI: So even though they were doing microsurgery in other places, this was still the first time something this...

HS: First time. We beat everybody in North America. We're the first time in North America. They had done one in Australia a year before, they had done one in China of all places a year before that.

TI: And so you and Gary did this, so what were the role, what role did you play?

HS: I play in terms of, there's, it takes two people to do this. Somebody has to work on the arm that's cut off, that's what I worked on. Gary works on the arm that is still viable, and he knew that the, he had been with Harry Bunke, so he had learned how to put these vessels together, so I helped him put these vessels together. And then when the, like, nerves we could do. And the other thing, we only had a microscope that had one eyepiece. But the trouble was, the advantage I had, I was, with myopia, I could take my glasses off, and I could see the, see the vessels well enough to be of assistance, to get the things together. If you, you were not myopic, you couldn't do it without a microscope. But being myopic, I could do it with 'em. And so we were able to put these vessels together, the blood, at twelve o'clock, we let go of all the tourniquets and whatnot, our little clamps, and the arm pinked up, and we sat there just... that wasn't finished yet. We hadn't still finished, we just got the blood vessel going. And the important thing was not only getting the blood vessel, blood in, that was the big, big thing that everybody concentrated on, but the important part was to get the blood out, to do the veins. And that was, that's where it required someone who had training to get the blood, to get those little veins put together. So we put together two or three veins.

TI: The veins were probably harder because there was less pressure, less...

HS: Well, the veins were harder 'cause the vessels are very fragile. They're like, what we did, I had worked with, in the lab before that, I had done that in the, in the early '60s, putting veins together for kidney transplant things. And it was like the other guy used to say to me, "Henry, this is like Scotch mist, you can hardly see it." And it, and it just... but the veins doesn't have pressure, so you could hold onto the pressure, get the clot to form there so it wouldn't leak through. But then you didn't want it to clot, you had to continually use heparin, and then we got them on aspirin. This kid today is, got a functioning arm. Not fully functional, but she can do a number of things with her arm. Of course, she's a farmer's wife, and she's still living in Alberta.

TI: Wow, what a story.

HS: It was, it was, but it was a series of --

TI: To the family, that must have felt like a miracle.

HS: Oh, yeah, it was a miracle. I mean, we got a lot of press from this. But it was something that because we were the first to do it officially, not only, we could show the kid, and she had her arm, and it was, the blood was going through there. The nerves had been all cut, of course, it was completely off. I have pictures of it just sitting, arm was sitting in a bucket, put it back on. Anyhow, it worked, and that was one of, one of our big achievements there, milestones.

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<Begin Segment 59>

HS: Secondly, by '72, '73, I had become the secretary of the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons, and by '78 I was the president of the, of the society. And that was a milestone, becoming president. And as, from there --

TI: Milestone meaning, a personal milestone.

HS: Yeah, personal milestone, as a medical person. And during that whole period, we had some firsts in Alberta in that we had the first residency program going west of Toronto, secondly we had the first burn unit. We set up a burn unit at the university hospital in the late '60s. And so we had a burn unit that could treat burns on a consistent basis and with, with good success. People survived despite horrendous burns. And not only that, we, by 1980s, by this time, cosmetic surgery was coming along, and we were probably the first ones to really do the, the liposuction. 'Cause we went, I came down to, to Los Angeles, and we went to a course that was put on by, in, at the American group, brought this guy who had developed the technique of liposuction in Paris, guy by the name of Gerard Illouz, and he gave this course in, at the Beverly Hilton. So I went there to learn to do it, and then brought it back to Edmonton. There was a guy there from Peterborough , Ontario. His disadvantage was when he went back, of course, he wasn't going back to, he wasn't going back to Ontario, he was now at, relocated to, to Texas. But I knew him and we were there in the class, and we watched Gerard Illouz do this, and he's using his suction, and of course using French words like allon, commonce, and this guy, Peter says to me, he says, "Gee, Henry, I don't think we can do this operation." I said, "Why not?" He says, "You have to learn a foreign language." [Laughs] Which, it was just a joke. But anyhow, we did, we brought, I was able at that time, I arranged to get this Gerard Illouz to come to Edmonton. Well, eventually I got a letter from him saying that... by this time, everybody was clamoring for him, of course, and New York wanted him. And here's Edmonton, I already had my bids in before, but between going to New York, San Francisco, all the big universities in the United States, he said, "Well," he says, "I'm sorry but I can't come to Edmonton." So he said, "But however, I'll send you one of the, my disciples, who's done this work in Las Vegas, guy by the name of Hetter." And it turned out that Hetter was probably a better choice, because when he came to Edmonton to teach us about liposuction, our little conference put together, he was much more prepared than Gerard Illouz, who was good technically, but difficult to understand in how you do, what the whole process was. Well, Hetter was a student of fat and how to get rid of it and all that sort of thing. So it turned out that he was a very good lecturer and we really got that going. So liposuction started in the early '80s in Edmonton, probably the earliest area in Canada of any degree.

TI: That's another good story.

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<Begin Segment 60>

TI: So I'm going to move on, beyond plastic surgery. And in the '80s, you also got involved in another area, the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation.

HS: Yes.

TI: And I wanted to just have you talk a little bit about that and your role, how that came about.

HS: Well, see, I had always been involved with the ethnic areas in Alberta. I was a member of the Alberta, I was a member of the Alberta Cultural Heritage Council, and then from there, I became a member of the Canadian Multiculturalism Council that was in Ottawa. And so I was speaking and talking with the minister of multiculturalism, Weiner, Jerry Weiner who was the minister of, he was a minister of this area for the Mulroney government at the time. And the decision had been made that they would finally recognize the wrongs that was put upon the Japanese Canadians during World War II, and they also decided that there would be a monetary compensation, and they decided that it would be $21,000. The same parallel was going on with Reagan and the American Citizens League, ACL.


HS: JACL, yeah. Same, JACL. Same thing was going on in the States. We were going, in September (...) 1988, the final decision was made to bring it up in Parliament. However, that decision actually was made in August. It was made in early, in middle August or early August, because they had a secret meeting with people like Art Miki and his group, people who were called the Settlement, Settlement Committee, and this is a part of the NAJC, the National Association of Japanese Canadians, of which he was president. They had, the Settlement Committee had met with Jerry Weiner, and they had decided that they would, they would go ahead with it. And they had a secret meeting in the Ritz hotel, Ritz-Carlton hotel in Montreal, which the, the bureaucrats from that, his, from Weiner's department came, and they were told by, through Mulroney but through his lieutenant who was Lucien Bouchard, who later became a member of the Separatist group. But at that time, he said, "You guys sit here, if I hammer out an agreement," and at that time, that agreement they hammered out was that every individual would get $21,000, who had been affected by the evacuation, by the, by the Order in Council back in February of 1942, and during that period. Anybody born during that period when that was in effect was then, would get $21,000. On top of that, they got two other recommendations that they were accepted by the government. One was there should be twelve million dollars given as a grant to form the Redress, the Redress Foundation, Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation to regenerate the Japanese communities across Canada, which had been decimated by the removal and by the sale of all the property. 'Cause a lot of the properties that they sold were properties that were owned by various Japanese associations along the West Coast. Like in Prince Rupert, that big kaigan, that big building with its property around there, that sold, and of course, nobody got anything out of that because it was an association of, of the community. The second thing, third thing they did was they agreed to a 24 million dollar race relations foundation, and that would be developed in the future. Those three things were agreed to, and that was, that was proclaimed (...) in the government of (Canada) in the parliament on September 22, 1988.

TI: And in addition to that $21,000, a formal apology, also.

HS: Yeah, a formal apology at the beginning. Formal apology plus the monetary... it had always been a decision that you couldn't just have an apology. Trudeau had done it already, he said he apologized for it, but that was, that wasn't, from the lawyers who were involved, they said, "There has to be a monetary aspect to it or you don't really, or you don't really have closure." So this was the monetary...

TI: So before we get to the twelve million dollar sort of Redress Foundation, I didn't, I wasn't aware of this 24 million dollar race relations. Has that been done?

HS: It's been done. It's in process, it's already, they have a foundation, race relations foundation which has existed right now, and working away at developing programs that would help in race relationships.

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<Begin Segment 61>

TI: Let's talk a little bit more about the, the Redress Foundation.

HS: Well, the Redress Foundation was actually formally put together (...). A year later, we really, in March of (1989), we really formed the actual body.

TI: I'm sorry, you said 1998, or 1989?

HS: Sorry, 1989, sorry. 1989, I'm sorry. 1989, it was, a year later we had formed the actual group, and it was, people who became, I represented a central, or what we call not central, Canada, but I represented Alberta, and there were people in B.C. and people from the prairies. I've met the prairie areas, and of course Art Miki was from Winnipeg, and then we had people from, from eastern Canada. And when we met, they decided that I would become chairman of that, of that group.

TI: Now, why do you think you were, you were chosen as chairman?

HS: Well, one thing, I had, all this time, I had been, I had been either with the, with the group in western Canada or the group in eastern Canada. I had really been an independent in the terms that I was always a member of the, of this advisory council that was advisory to the, to the government of Canada.

TI: So was it almost important to have someone who wasn't either western or eastern?

HS: Or eastern, yeah. Someone who was neutral in that I didn't have a lot of baggage with me. Like Art Miki had a lot of the western ideas that the people were expecting him to do certain things for other, for that, their group. And then there was this big contingent from Toronto that were most anxious that most of the money would go to Toronto, like 12 million to develop the, to develop the regeneration of the communities.

TI: So you were viewed as not as biased as many other...

HS: I was not a threat to anybody. [Laughs] I think they found out later that I was a threat to everybody, because I refused to accept certain things that would happen. Everybody wanted, I mean, right away, people, somebody from Ottawa phoned me saying they wanted the money right now. They deserved so many millions of dollars because Ottawa was, after all, the capital, and they, they have so many Japanese people. And of course I, I just turned them down flat saying, "Not a red cent. We're gonna hold onto it, and then we're gonna develop our own system." Well, what happened was we got some very good legal and financial advice. And immediately... we received the money in September, we received the money within a few months, the actual cash. We put it into, into the bank, into the financial part of the Royal Bank of Canada, into their financial division, and it immediately began to get interest. And within five years, we had not twelve million, we had eighteen million. So we had increased it by fifty percent.

TI: So you had, essentially, invested the original twelve million.

HS: Invested... million. Yeah, and despite the fact that we were also accepting grants and applications, and we were sending out money. But we did it in such a way that we were, we were taking out the money, but it was done in a way that you couldn't get the money until you were absolutely -- people say, "Oh, yeah, we're gonna build this." Okay, give us a bill of what your initial bill --

TI: Well, I'm curious, did you ever, at some point, when it was, like, eighteen million dollars, think about some of that as being kind of an endowment, that it would potentially sort of...

HS: Well, that was, that eventually, that was a big thing that we did, was put it in endowment with the National Association of Japanese Canadians.

TI: Oh, so there's, some of that money still is around?

HS: Oh, still there. They have an endowment, yes.

TI: And how large did you guys decide to make the endowment?

HS: The endowment eventually, because there was so much money we made, I think the endowment was somewhere close to two to three million dollars, that they got. But the initial thing was everybody, right away, they wanted to break it up in little pieces. Toronto wanted so many millions because they were the biggest group, and the Vancouver... and we resisted, just said, "No. You'll get it when you have some project. Give me a project, we'll give you the money."

TI: And so overall, when you look across Canada, what were kind of the criteria? What were you trying to do at that point?

HS: Well, we were trying to develop a sense of community, we were trying to do, we had certain prerequisites. We wanted to have so much money go to seniors, seniors' groups, and they had to have some kind of project that would help them. So that meant seniors, nursing-type homes, that type of thing. And it did, they, Toronto did come up with a good plan. Now you've got a big Momiji Center, which today houses Japanese Canadian older seniors, and they live there as, it's not nursing entirely, but it's a residence that gives them quite a few advantages. Then there was one that we made in Vancouver called Nikkei Place, and they have a seniors' residence there. Those are the two major ones. There's one in (Vernon, B.C.) and there's one in Ontario in a place called Beansville, and these were things that we put into.

TI: And so were you consciously also thinking geographically to try to disperse the funds?

HS: Oh, yeah. We had to do it in such a way that everybody got a piece, you might say, and nobody got too much. The two major centers, Vancouver and Toronto, got the majority of the money, no question.

TI: And was that based kind of on population?

HS: Population, on population.

TI: So geographically, you kind of knew where the population was, so you kind of knew...

HS: We knew exactly where the population was...

TI: About how much was there, but you were really trying to push them to actually come up with, with projects.

HS: We want the project because we wanted everything that, whenever we gave money, we gave it in seed money, "to get you guys going. And you've got to get your community to develop that, whatever project you've got." These are capital projects. We had programs that we did, and we had, the capital projects were mainly cultural centers, senior citizens' homes, and things like Japanese gardens that were planned by various people. Even Edmonton, see, they had a cultural center there, they couldn't, they couldn't, even with so many hundred thousand, they couldn't get their own center unless they raised several million dollars. Well, they, the great plan that they came up with was, okay, the city has community centers, and the city will, they have funded those community centers. And there are several centers, these community centers, where the people have eventually, using those community centers, had finally disappeared. Because all the young kids are gone, they're, older people living around those areas are not as enthusiastic anymore. So you can use these centers, and so they said, "Well, join one of those centers," and they did. They joined one, and they said, "Okay, together, we will have a center." And so that was accepted, and so we put money into it, changed the community center that was already there, and made it into a Japanese, Japanese and community center. And so this was done in a number of places so that you had centers that were viable because it was a community center to begin with.

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<Begin Segment 62>

TI: So when you take a step back and look at that whole process, the program and everything, what do you see? Are you pleased with how it went?

HS: Pretty well. Because we were able to fund 150, 155 various projects and programs out of that 18 million. And at the same time, we were still able to give so many millions to the NAJCS, a sustaining, or what you might call an endowment amount. And they have three endowment programs, one cultural, one in sports, and one in education, out of that whole deal.

TI: And just in looking back, were there any things that you would have done differently, in hindsight?

HS: Gee, in hindsight, it's hard to say. We might, the thing we didn't do, and we did about get caught into that trap of accepting... well, one of the things we did not do, we always wanted to be sure that if you're gonna get a project, show us you've got a project that is going to be worthwhile. And the first thing that a lot of these people were doing, were doing a feasibility study so that they can say, "Yes, it's a feasible program." It is going to be backed by the community. So, you know, the total cost of everything we did, the budget for the regeneration was actually eighty-three million dollars. We committed twelve million, and through all the different efforts of all the various communities, the actual amount of money that was used for these regenerations programs was eighty-three million. So we, we got how many times, eight times or seven times...

TI: So it was very, it was a process that generated, it was like seed money to generate a lot more.

HS: Yeah, seed money, but most, because that was the major stumbling block, buying the land or putting the money into a program that you could get it started, and then they would then go to other agencies and that was good.

TI: So that's all positive, was there anything kind of, again, in hindsight, you would want to do differently?

HS: I can't, I don't know... well, I'm not sure what we could have done differently without jeopardizing the amount of, we had, we were able to do two things. We were able to do all the programs, always during the time that we were doing these programs, we were making money, that money was coming in. So money was going out to these programs, but because the investments that we had were so good, it was, money was coming in from the investments. Eventually, all that, it might have been nice for the foundation to have continued, but one of the, when we weighed the proposal, originally, the life of the Canadian, Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation was supposedly agreed by the, on the memorandum for five years.

TI: So it was supposed to sunset.

HS: It was, it was supposed to be a sunset agreement. We were supposed to finish. But at the end of five years, we had, we found that none of the projects, to a large degree, a lot of the projects that were started were not finished yet. So I had to go to, to Ottawa, and we had to go and talk to the minister who had now since, was a new government, and we discussed it with them. And they, they looked at our books and they thought, why, this is a foundation that has done well because not only was it doing its work, but it was making money. And so by doing that, instead of flitting the money away to... a lot of the foundations that were funded by the government, the money was going into a hole in the ground, we were actually getting more money to do the same amount of work. And we, they said, "Okay, we'll extend your time. How much time do you need?" We thought, well, how much time are we gonna need? By this time it was '95, we said, "Well, at least another five or six years." They said, "Take as much time as you want." We decided 2001 or 2002, that's enough.

TI: Now, why did you choose, was it the NJAC?



HS: That was the, that was the National Association of Japanese Canadians, that was the overall umbrella association that did the initial, all the work in getting the agreement.

TI: So you thought that was a good organization to carry on.

HS: Yeah, and they were, and they were a good organization in that they had the welfare of the total of Canada rather than one city or, each had their own chapters. And we wanted to have something that was national, not localized to Vancouver or Toronto, a tendency that that was always going to happen.

<End Segment 62> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 63>

TI: Okay, so Henry, we had just finished talking about some of your career, and some things about the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation. And while you were busy with all these things, you were also busy raising a family.

HS: That's right.

TI: And I just wanted to talk a little bit about that. So can you tell me how you met your wife?

HS: Well, Joan was a student nurse at the University Hospital, University Hospital in Edmonton, and that's the University of Alberta hospital. And she was in training as a nurse at that time. I met her when she was still a student nurse. And she was a student nurse, senior student nurse by that time, when I really got to know her.

TI: And about what year was this?

HS: Huh? The year was 195-, about 1956 or '55, '56.

TI: So this is a couple years after you had graduated.

HS: Yes.

TI: Okay.

HS: By 1956, I had gotten to know Joan quite well, and we got engaged while she was, she was in... what was she, she was in the hospital for some minor problem, she had pneumonia or something like that, or some, I know I remember she was in bed at the time, in the hospital. And I, at that time, I proposed to her, I brought a ring. And this friend of mine that was, as a sideline, he was there doing some, he was doing some what you might call post-graduate training in obstetrics, but he was actually a general practitioner from, from Lethbridge, and he owned, as part of his deal, he owned a jewelry shop. And so he gave me the opportunity to buy a ring, and engagement diamond ring for a good price, and at that same time, he gave me this huge crown, special crown to hold the ring in, which I then brought to Joan. And she was amazed to see that in the, in this big crown I had, you opened it up, and inside it was an engagement ring, and she, she then accepted it at that, right at that time. And in 1957 we were married, in October of 1957.

TI: So I'm curious, when you started dating, Joan is Caucasian.

HS: Yes.

TI: And I'm curious, in terms of being sort of, of your generation, was it fairly common to have, to see these sort of interracial type of marriages or relationships?

HS: It wasn't a common thing at that time, and in fact, there was a concerted effort by a number of the Japanese people in Edmonton to arrange parties and things where we met girls of our same group, and an attempt to try and foster some kind of relationship that way. However, there were two doctors, one a veterinarian doctor, and one who was a graduate of the University of Alberta, had been a doctor in Edmonton for about, at that time, at least ten years' plus, and he was married to, both of them were married to nurses. So it wasn't something new, completely new, although it was very uncommon at the time. And like Joan said, both our mothers cried when we made our engagement, because they, they had no idea of what was going on, because it was, this was entirely something new, and they were just flabbergasted, you might say.

TI: Well, so what was your parents', did you ever talk to them directly about the relationship?

HS: Well, yes. She, after a little bit of talking, and my mother certainly accepted it. She said, "Well, you know, if that's what you feel is, is you'd like to do, then I think you go ahead. And I think the same occurred with Joan, she was determined that she would marry me, and I think her mother also accepted that, although this was something unexpected that she was concerned.

TI: And in general, how were the, kind of, in-law relationships? Yours with Joan's side of the family, and Joan with your side?

HS: It was very amicable, but it wasn't, I mean, we weren't... my mother, we were in Edmonton and his, her, her family was out in Fort Saskatchewan, which was in the outskirts of Edmonton, and it wasn't like they were visiting each other or anything like that. No, that didn't occur, because it was, there was a problem with distance as well as a problem of opportunity. 'Cause they, her mother was still working as a teacher when it happened. And her father was a guard in, at that point, had owned a garage, he had sold the garage, he was now working in the, there was a huge penitentiary there, and it was right in the town of Fort Saskatchewan, and he began to work for them there. And so, but we got married in, in an Anglican church, it was a church that, in Edmonton, that my mother, who had continued to remain Anglican at All Saints Cathedral, but it was, we felt it was too large a place to have our wedding. We had it right in a community church, which was an Anglican church, and had their reception downstairs, which was the common thing to do in those days. In 1957, very few people were saying, booking the big hotels and things like that for receptions. It was usually in community churches or small churches, and that nature.

TI: So I'm curious, if Joan were here and I asked her what was it about you that attracted her to you, what would she say?

HS: I don't know. I think she, I think we fell in love, main thing. She was, she had, she'd had relationships before, so she knew all about it. It's just that I think her relationships were, she found them, that things with other, other Caucasian males had not worked out. It seemed like it, when she met me, it seemed like something that was more permanent.

TI: And for you, what was it about Joan that attracted you?

HS: Well, she was very attractive, and though she, and I liked her a lot. And because, and I just felt that she was a beautiful girl, and so I thought, "Gee, it would be wonderful to be able to be married," and we, when I asked her to be, that we be engaged, she accepted right away. So that sort of set the stage.

TI: Okay, that's good.

<End Segment 63> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 64>

TI: Well, and you had children.

HS: We had four children. Our first child was, was a girl, Kim, very bright, and she went to, she was in her, in her upbringing, she was always a very outgoing child, and very good. She became a, as a matter of fact, she became a competitive figure skater, and at one point, she was the, the juvenile champion figure skater in Alberta. But she never went beyond that; she, by about that time, she was already about fifteen when she did that, and boys came into the picture, and that sort of went, being a figure skater sort of went to the side. She wasn't willing to give it as much as she thought she was giving, although she continued to do a lot of skating. She taught figure skating, and she became a teacher. And then she married a dentist and then went to Calgary.

TI: And then after Kim...

HS: There was Darren, our first son. And he became a electrical engineer, and he continued to stay in Edmonton. He stayed with us for a long time, Joan finally had to get him to move out, and he did go out with a friend, I think, and they had their own place. And then eventually, he had a number of relationships, and eventually he and his present wife, Nadine, married, and they have two boys.

TI: Now, is he the triathlon?

HS: No, he's not the triathlon.

TI: Okay, so that's --

HS: Greg is the, Greg was the next one, and Greg is a triathlon. He, he's still single, although he's had a live-in, and he's had a relationship with one girl for at least five or six years now. But he's not, and I know that she has said to us that she'd like to get married, but Greg is so wrapped up in his triathlon and in his other work. He works as the, a manager with what they call the Northland, it's the Northland Foundation, but actually it's called the Northland Exhibition and Division. It's a, it's actually a separate organization from the city, but it got its start from the city as a convention center type setup. It owns a number of facilities, and one is that it, it runs the racehorse area, it's gambling casinos, and it has as a part of its overall thing, it has a huge skating rink, which was called the Coliseum at the time when he joined them. The Coliseum was where the Oiler hockey team that we have in Edmonton, that's where they are. They use that skating rink. That big complex, but it's also a big convention center. It has several big buildings that do all the conventions. So actually, Greg, in a way, is in the entertainment world, his major, major work is to run the horse racing area, as well as, but he does have a hand in the gambling area as well.

TI: Wow, so it sounds like he's busy.

HS: Yeah, he's busy, but this work that he has seems to fit in well with him because he has to take time off to do his triathlon, and he also is a taiko drummer, and, right now, he is one of the principal, a major player as well as organizer for the taiko group. And a lot of it is the fact that he's already in the, you might say, entertainment world, so he has, he has communication with other areas where he can, where he can book the --

TI: And just to finish up with Greg, I mean, you said he's a competitive triathlete.

HS: Oh, he's competitive triathlon, yes. Just recently, he said he'd been put on the Canadian team to go to Lausanne, Switzerland, for a triathlon championship that's going to be held there.

TI: Good. Okay, so that's three, and then the fourth one?

HS: The fourth one is Gina, or Yoshiko as she is now known. She has one child, which is a girl. I forgot to say that Kim has two boys. Kim has two boys, they're, the oldest is seventeen now, and the next one is getting to be fourteen. And the, Gina has a little girl who's now coming on to four years of age. She's, she's in Toronto, Kim is also in Ontario. Kim and her husband are divorced now, and she's now got a new situation and is just going into a new house in, in Ontario. Gina and her husband are in the process, her husband is a, again, he's in computers, he's a programmer. He worked for the Bank of, Royal Bank of Canada, but recently has opted to finish with the Royal Bank because he was always on contract, and they wanted him to become full-time, but he felt that what they were offering him wasn't good enough, so he's now in the process of trying to get a different area. And the other thing, of course, they would like to come West again, and so that's what he's trying to do now, is to arrange something. As a matter of fact, he's even talked to somebody here in Seattle, he said, but he's really hoping that they get into Calgary or Edmonton.

TI: Boy, it sounds like if he could do that, it would be nice for you to be close to your grandchild.

HS: Oh, yeah, or Vancouver, but they're not interested in Vancouver, they're interested in Calgary.

<End Segment 64> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 65>

TI: So Henry, at this point, I want to, something else that you're, you're known for are your paintings. And I wanted to ask you how you got started with painting.

HS: Well, I've been, I've been always interested in art, ever since I... and when we were, ever since I was in, in my residency program in, early on at the University of Alberta, I... as a matter of fact, when we were in, in Pittsburgh doing our residency in plastic surgery, one of the things that our chief developed was a little program where we were allowed so much money to go into some program at the university there. And one of the things they wanted us to do was take art at Carnegie Institute. Well, he thought that all plastic surgeons should have some facility in sketching and stuff like that. So he, so I did take that course in Pittsburgh, and that sort of started me on the idea of maybe, I kept thinking about that, and when I came, we came back to Edmonton after I got pretty-well established in plastic surgery at the university hospital. I started taking some extension courses at night, and that would be in the '70s. And I took a course in, what do you call... silk-, that would be in the area of printmaking, so I did printmaking one year, and the next year I did general painting. And then I did those two courses, and when we got to, here to, started coming here to Victoria, I went out to a place called MISSA, which is the Metchosin International (Summer School of the Arts), International School of Summer Art workshops, and I did a couple of courses with them. And these things sort of got me to doing more painting, I was painting in oils and watercolors. And I'd already done, a number of prints that I'd done when I was in printmaking, I still have those prints today. And some of them were accepted as good prints, but I never did sell anything, I wasn't in the process of becoming a real artist, of selling paintings or anything like that. I was just doing it mainly because I enjoyed doing it. And the other thing I did was a few years ago, in 1999, as a matter of fact, I was thinking about that it was gonna be sixty years from the time that I was incarcerated in New Denver as an "enemy alien." And my background being that I was involved in all these things, the foundation, the NAJC, and the Alberta Heath Cultural Heritage and Council, all that sort of thing. I thought, I can't write, but I could paint. And I thought, "I wonder if I could paint something of that period." And so I did, initially I did a thing called "Cool Cats," and that was these four guys that was a photograph that I had, of these four young fifteen-year-olds, fourteen-, fifteen-year-olds that thought they were really cool. They had, you know, their pork pie hats and drape pants, during that period, keychain, zoot suit, sort of. That would be 1943, '44. And they were standing on the bridge that connected the orchard to the main part of town in New Denver.

TI: So this is in New Denver?

HS: In New Denver, yeah. And they were sitting, standing there, so I remember seeing that picture, and I thought, those guys think that they're on top of the world. And it was, I thought it was a great picture for, to start painting. So I started by doing that one, so I did "Cool," the "Cool Cats," and then I put a little blurb about them and thought about that. And then I did one of the actual town of, the orchard as it looked in 1946, 'cause I saw a picture of that. So I used that as a background. When I got those two done, and I was thinking about that, and I thought, you know, there must be, I know there were hundreds of pictures of the New Denver period. I had a few, and they were snapshots, and I'd seen others, friends of mine had others, so I thought I could do something about the lifestyle of that internment camp, and what it was, and what it really was like. So I thought, well, I think I could make a series of this, and so I started painting this series. And so finally I painted, to begin with, twenty-two of them with all kinds of scenes in all different areas. Things, activities that we did sports-wise, social-wise, as well as how the, how the camp looked like, and what people did when they were in the camp, what was the major things that stuck in my mind, the vegetable gardens, the sanitarium, all of this sort of thing. And when I, and I painted them, I thought I'll paint them in oil, because if you're gonna do any painting, I'd seen some watercolors, and to me, watercolors are fine as a medium, it's difficult to preserve. I thought, well, if I preserve them I can preserve 'em with oil paintings, so that's why I did them in oils.

And after I got twenty-two, that made it up, by the time I got started... to begin with, I had it, I went to, happened to be in Toronto. We had a little company that made me go, having to go to Toronto. When I was in Toronto, I got my sister to gather some of the people that had been in New Denver that I knew, and we would have a dinner. And at the same time, I put a little tape recorder there and we, I asked each of them what is it that they remember about the internment camp. And all of them had very positive, they all had positive recollections of the time that they were in New Denver, and now they were, this is, this is some forty, fifty years after. And they all had thought that this was a community to them that they really cherished, and it was sad to leave. We, when we left, we felt badly about leaving, and anyhow, this, then, started me off thinking about the paintings. I had this sort of recording that I did, and one of the things, for instance, like my sister said, you know, "When I was in the internment camp, I really felt safe." There was, it was like, they were out of the area of any prejudice or any slurs that were directed towards him if it was like they were on the West Coast. They felt that they were, you might say, they were the majority, of course. When we were in the camp, we were the majority. The white people in the, in the city, in the little village of Victoria -- in the little village of New Denver, really were the minority. So everything that went on in that whole area, in terms of social things, the dances, the movies, the baseball, the hockey, they were all done by the Japanese group, and the white people joined in. It wasn't the other way around. And it was like, it was a, it was a different scenario, and we thought, you never thought about it at that time, but you actually were conducting your life as if you, this was the way things go. You decided what was going on. We were the ones that put the teenage dances on, and the New Year's dance, and the white people came to our dances; we didn't go to the other ones.

TI: And so you had these paintings, and you think that conveyed that kind of feeling?

HS: Yes, it does. There's a, everybody who has seen these paintings say the paintings are rather happy. And I said, "Yes, they were," because the general mood of the type of people that were there, and we're talking about teenagers and people who, not the Isseis but Niseis, were generally happy by being, being there. And when they left, many of them were really sorry to leave the camp to go to Toronto or these other places, because it was, they had spent three or four years in an area where they just had no concern about whether they were Japanese or whether they were Canadian. It never occurred to them.

TI: And you think those twenty-two paintings kind of captured some of that.

HS: Captures that effect of it, yeah.

TI: So how have you displayed or exhibited these...

HS: They've been going around. They've, I've got them all in, of course, they're framed, and we got, they pack up into three boxes, and we have big panels which explains the camps and where they were. And we have a discussion of what this is all about, and this goes around. We have about six panels of discussion. Each painting has a little caption that goes with it explaining each painting. So each, and I have one on hockey, for instance, baseball. We all listened to the World Series and played baseball as we, as we listened to the World Series. We all played hockey and listened to Hockey Night in Canada, which was a Saturday night tradition in Canada. And we all took part in, in dances, "teen town" was a thing at that time.

TI: Right, so those, those paintings captured that. I'm curious, since it's been on display, have there been any memorable sort of comments that...

HS: Yeah. The best place where it showed was at the university, when I used it, had it at the university gallery, the comments were very interesting. Because here's people, a group of people who were completely outside of our community. And none of them were, of course, Japanese, were of any Japanese ancestry, but they were, ancestry, but a lot of them were interested in... to begin with, they had no idea that this had occurred. Of course, it had never been publicized, it's not in the history books to any degree, so nobody knew that this episode ever occurred. And the second thing, of course, was that they could see in this a kind of a bittersweet remembrance of a time or an episode, something that also probably affected all of our lives, and even today, your life, from your parents. And things that, everything has, this one episode had occurred, and if it has occurred, you can't take it away, and it becomes a part of your persona.

TI: Actually, that's kind of a good way to end that portion.

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<Begin Segment 66>

TI: I want to also kind of mention, in your life, you've lived a very rich life. And lots of different experiences, but you've given back a lot to the community, not only through your career, but to the community through the foundation and your paintings. And you've been acknowledged for that by the Canadian government. And I wanted you to, to just spend a minute or so explaining one of the, this honor that you got, this medal.

HS: Oh, in 2003, I received the Order of Canada, which is the highest, highest what you call recognition for a civilian. And this was, is given out by the governor-general of Canada, who represents the queen in Canada. The queen, despite the fact that the queen is from England, we all, every, there's a governor-general who represents her in the government of Canada. And her position is to, is to be sort of like the representative of the queen here in Canada, and she does sort of the same ideas. In England they have what they call knighthood that they give to their prominent citizens. Like, for instance, the Beatles got knighthood.

TI: So this would be kind of equivalent to being knighted.

HS: That same, same, except it's in Canada.

TI: So I can call you "Sir Henry." [Laughs]

HS: It's not a sir. They don't, there is none of the, there's none of the laying on of the sword or anything like that. As a result, but as a result, you get this medal and the recognition, and you become a part of this group known as a member of the Order of Canada. And I can put this, my initials, CM, which means I am a member of the Canadian Order of Canada, after my name. When I officially write my, if I sign my name officially, I could put CM at the end. It's like putting MDCM. My MD, my doctorate, and FRCS, which would also go there, which is becoming a member of the Fellow, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada, it's called the Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. And you put that FRCS, Canadian surgeons on there as well, and the final thing that you put on is the Order of Canada, which is a CM. So this is what you're, you're given the, you're officially recognized to do this, and so I can do, put a CM on my...

TI: [Addressing videographer]: So did you get a good shot of that? [Addressing HS]: Okay, so why don't you put that down, and then just talk briefly about this medal.

HS: This medal I received from the, from the premier of Alberta, and I received this in 2005 as recognition of my accomplishments with the, and achievements with the, not only with Alberta, but also with Canada. It is the centennial medal, and these medals were given out to people of note in, since Alberta became a province in 1905. So in 2005, it's, it's the hundredth anniversary, these medals were given out to people of note at that time. And this was, and they, because of my, I think because of other things I did, as well as the fact that I was, had the Order of Canada by that time, that I was given this medal as well.

TI: Okay. You know, Henry, we have about one or two minutes left. Any other last thoughts or comments?

HS: Well, I'm, I must say, I appreciate coming here and having you, having Densho feel that there is some importance in people outside the United States, but in North America, you might say. And the recognition that there are other stories similar to the American experience, but the Canadian experience -- and in other ways, quite a bit different because of our location. However, it is, it is nice to be able to come, to come here and do this. I feel that it is, it is a Nisei, whether in Canada or United States or in Mexico, it's that, it's that idea of anybody that has an interest or is part of a Japanese experience outside of Japan, are sort of, as a group, like brothers, or it's one family.

TI: Well, good. That's a wonderful way to end this, and I've learned a lot about Japanese Canadians. So thank you so much.

HS: Thank you very much.

<End Segment 66> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.