Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Makoto Otsu Interview
Narrator: Makoto Otsu
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (secondary), Barbara Yasui (primary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 24, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-497

<Begin Segment 1>

TI: So today is March 24, 2022, we're at the Lakeshore Retirement Community, and my name is Tom Ikeda, I'm one of the interviewers. Next to me is Barbara Yasui, and on camera is Dana Hoshide. And to first start off, what was the name given to you when you were first born?

MO: First born? I think Makoto.

TI: Okay, Makoto Otsu?

MO: Yeah.

TI: And when were you born and where?

MO: March 26, 1926, Steveston. I think there's a hospital there, Japanese hospital.

TI: Yeah, I looked it up, and it's called the Japanese Fishermen's Benevolent Society Hospital.

MO: Could be, yeah.

TI: And so let me ask first about your father. Can you tell me his name and where he was born?

MO: Genji Otsu, he was born in Japan. Hiisakimura, isn't he?

TI: I'm sorry, what?

MO: Hiisakimura or something?

TI: I don't know.

MO: Oh, Wakayama-ken.

TI: Yeah, Wakayama-ken. And I have, kind of, the year, maybe 1898?

MO: 1898, I think.

TI: And tell me a little bit about anything you know about him in Japan. Do you think anything about the family?

MO: I don't know anything about Japan. I went there when I was, my father took my younger brother when he had that bad ear thing. So I must have been three. Maybe my brother might have been two, I don't know. So I don't remember.

TI: Okay, yeah, that's good. But then I think you know a little bit, because when your father came to Japan, or to Canada, I think you mentioned earlier, he came with his father?

MO: Oh, I don't know if my grandfather was in Canada that time or not, I'm not sure.

TI: Well, do you know, kind of, why your father came to Canada?

MO: I really don't know.

TI: Okay. But when he came to Canada, he became a fisherman.

MO: I don't know whether when he first came, I don't think he's young, so I don't think he was a fisherman then.

TI: So tell me anything you know about his life in Canada when he first came. Is there anything that you can remember?

MO: I don't remember that.

TI: Okay. So let's go to your mother. What was your mother's name?


MO: Sawaye.

TI: Okay. And where was she born?

MO: She was born in Wakayama-ken. I don't know how close they were.

TI: And your mother and father, do you know how they met?

MO: I have no idea. [Laughs]

TI: How about, do you know where they were married? Were they married in Japan?

MO: I think they were married in Japan, I think. I'm not sure though.

TI: Do you know if your father came to Canada with your mother or did he come alone first?

MO: I think he came alone first. He was in Canada. Maybe he went back and married my mother, I don't know.

TI: That's really common.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

TI: Okay, so let's talk about your brothers and sisters. So starting from the oldest, I know even... oldest to the youngest, why don't you talk about your...

MO: Misao was my oldest, older than me. And Norman, Nozomu is younger than me, then there's Megumi, and there's Ai, and there's Harumi. And then this Ellen was born after the war, (1946).

TI: So age-wise, so Misao was like a year older than you, Nozomu was a year younger.

MO: Year younger. And Megumi was a couple of years younger than Norm, so she's three years younger than me.

TI: Okay. And then Ai, how much younger was she?

MO: Ai was... gee, I was born in, let's see... she was born in, I don't know, I haven't got that here.

TI: But just about how much younger was she?

MO: She must have been about five years younger than me.

TI: Okay, and then Harumi?

MO: Harumi was born in 1934.

TI: Okay, 1934. So Ellen was born a lot later.

MO: Yeah, (�46).

TI: Okay. So she's like, yeah, she's twenty years younger than you are.

MO: Oh, yeah.

TI: So you could almost be her father.

MO: Well, I don't actually know her that well.

TI: Yeah, because of the age difference.

BY: Can you talk about Misao? She has an interesting story.

MO: She was, after she was born, she was adopted by that family, my aunt Miyamoto.

BY: Is that because they didn't have any children?

MO: Yeah.

TI: And when you think about that, was that fairly common? Did you know of any other families that another family member adopted?

MO: Maybe that's... I don't know at those days.

TI: Okay, but it just happened in your family. So earlier you mentioned how you went to Japan with, I think, your father and Norm when you were quite young. Tell me why, again, why you guys went to Japan.

MO: They had problems with my brother's ear operation, so they took him to Japan, I think. And he left him there and he grew up in Japan, actually. He never came back to Canada until after the war. So I didn't spend any... during that time, so he was a stranger to me when I saw him when he came back.

TI: Do you have any memories of going to Japan with...

MO: I don't.

TI: So people just told you that that's what happened?

MO: Yeah. That's a picture.

TI: Yeah, it's good that you have these photographs to bring on memories. And you mentioned that your brother had some ear problems. So why would you go to Japan?

MO: I don't know whether they couldn't do anything in Canada or not at that time.

TI: So it sounds like your father may have thought that the medical practices was better in Japan for this?

MO: I guess so, yeah.

TI: So he wanted to do that. And then did you ever hear why he stayed in Japan? Was it because of his ear problem?

MO: Well, my dad has to come back, whether he has to come back to fishing, or actually, Norm got stuck with my grandparents and stayed there.

TI: Okay, so it's kind of interesting that your older sibling, and the one underneath you, were essentially gone. So you're kind of the oldest brother?

MO: Yeah, I was the oldest in the family.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

TI: So let's talk a little bit about Steveston and what you can remember. So describe Steveston. What was it like for you growing up there?

MO: Well, it's a pretty good place, a lot of Japanese, I got a lot of friends. And we used to go to... I went through high school, you know. So when you go to high school, we used to take a tram from Steveston station to Cambie, it was about half an hour.

TI: Okay, so it was the actual train that you would take?

MO: A streetcar.

TI: Streetcar.

MO: Yeah. And then after, generally after school, I think I'd go to a Japanese school for an hour or so.

TI: And do you recall where you went to Japanese school? I was reading something about, I know there was a Japanese school where the Japanese Fisherman's Benevolent Society, by the hospital, there was a school there.

MO: Yeah, I think so, yeah.

TI: Was that the school that you went to?

MO: Yeah.

TI: And describe that. Like in your class, how many people were in your Japanese language school?

MO: Oh, Japanese people? I mean, my room is maybe half a dozen Japanese.

TI: And were there other classes going on at the same time as yours?

MO: Yeah.

TI: Like about how many, do you think?

MO: How many people?

TI: Yeah, like how many people total were there during that time?

MO: Japanese people? Maybe about ten.

TI: Going back to Steveston, you said there were quite a few Japanese there. What other races were there? Were there very many white people there in Steveston, too?

MO: Yeah. There was Japanese, I mean, there was white people there.

TI: How about any other races? Like were there native Canadians there or other races besides white and Japanese?

MO: I don't think there was any... I don't remember having any relationships with white people.

TI: So when you think about Steveston, what kind of work did people do in Steveston?

MO: Mostly fisherman, and there was farmers. There was... I think there was two or three Japanese confectionary store. They handled Japanese food.

TI: Do you remember things like restaurants there?

MO: I don't know if there was a Japanese restaurant when I was growing up.

TI: How about a hotel or something like that? Do you remember hotels?

MO: Hmm?

TI: Like hotels? Were hotels...

MO: There's a Steveston Hotel was run by hakujin, though, white people.

TI: So fishermen, farmers, you had the stores, how about like canneries? Was there a cannery?

MO: Yeah, there's about three or four fishing canneries. I remember Gulf of Georgia, Nielsen Brothers, and another... there's about three scattered on the Fraser River.

TI: Wow, good memory that you can remember that, that's really good. And so I'm thinking of the salmon industry, and it feels like it comes in, what's the right word, like different seasons. Like during fishing season, the place must be really busy with the fishing boats and the canneries. During that time, did people from outside come to Steveston to work or was it just pretty much the Steveston people?

MO: I don't think so, I don't think so. Some of the ladies were working in the cannery, and before the war, I don't think my mother worked there, but she worked after she went back.

TI: Went back after the war. Well, when it was, like, not fishing season, what was Steveston like? Was it a lot quieter or did it just seem pretty much the same all year round?

MO: Oh, it's about the same all year round.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

TI: Let's talk about where you lived in Steveston. So talk about, kind of, where the family lived and what that was like.

MO: Well, we were living in a company... in a cannery there's, they had... well, where we were, when my dad was fishing there before the war, there was about ten company cabin, you know, they were living in there.

TI: I'm sorry, you had ten company what? Cabins?

MO: Yeah, it's kind of a company cabin.

TI: And then describe a cabin for me. What would be, what would a cabin be like?

MO: Well, the place we were living in was almost away on a river bank, so it was on the... oh, actually, it's built up.

BY: Like on pilings?

MO: Yeah.

TI: And how large was each cabin, roughly?

MO: Well, I think it's a pretty good house.

TI: Okay, so did you share that with other families?

MO: No.

TI: Just for you.

MO: My family, yeah.

TI: Now, do you remember which company the cabin belonged to? You mentioned three...

MO: I think my dad, before the war, was, I think it was, I don't remember. I don't know what the company was called.

TI: Now, do you have any memories of the company cabin that you stayed in in terms of, yeah, anything that you remember in terms of where you slept or how you ate or the fact that you were on pilings?

MO: We were above the, on the piling, built up.

TI: So did you ever, like, fish from your cabin?

MO: Yeah. And fishing boats were all, there's a wharf there.

TI: So you were just right next to the water all the time?

MO: Yeah, we were all on the water.

TI: So I'm curious, as a parent, I think about this. So did you guys all learn how to swim?

MO: Yeah, when we were a kid, we were swimming all the time.

TI: [Laughs] Because I would think, that's the first thing I'd think about. Like, my gosh, my kids are going to be on the wharf and are going to fall in the water.

MO: Yeah, I got... fell in the water one time and got picked up with a young man.

TI: Oh, they just kind of, someone picked you up like that? Well, so were there every any drownings?

MO: I don't think we drowned, but we got picked up by a young man, Japanese guy.

TI: Because what happened? You fell into the water or something?

MO: Yeah.

TI: Okay. So what were some of the, how did you play when you were at the cabin? You were next to the water, you're by the wharfs, what kind of games or things did you guys do?

MO: Oh, I don't know. I guess we helped Dad getting the nets out to fix it. I guess we would play around, all right.

TI: So I'm curious about food. Having a dad as a fisherman, did that mean that you guys ate a lot of fish for your food?

MO: You know, sport fishing, no, I don't do any sport fishing.

TI: But then, from your dad's boat, like at dinnertime, did you guys eat lots of salmon?

MO: Well, when he was fishing that time, he had somebody helping him. There was always two men on the boat.

TI: But then what would your mother cook for dinner usually?

MO: Yeah, mother was just busy cooking, taking care of the kids, I guess.

TI: So what would be a typical diet? When you think of breakfast, lunch and dinner, what would you eat back then?

MO: We'd eat a lot of Japanese food.

TI: Okay, so what kind of Japanese food?

MO: Well, I don't think we had too many English foods.

TI: So a lot of rice? Vegetables?

MO: Rice and vegetables, mostly.

TI: Did you have much meat? Did you guys eat meat?

MO: Hmm?

TI: How about meat?

MO: Meat and that, too, yeah.

TI: And fish, too?

MO: Yeah, lot of fish, lot of fish.

TI: Now, did you ever go fishing yourself just, and catch things?

MO: No, like sports fishing?

TI: Yeah, or off the dock or something.

MO: No, we don't. None of the kids did fishing when they were growing up.

TI: Huh, that's funny. I would think you guys would all be good fishermen off the docks.

MO: Yeah. Well, all the grown ups were fishermen, but I don't remember any kids fishing, sports fishing.

TI: Probably because it was too much fishing, yeah.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

TI: So you lived in this company cabin, and then I think you told me earlier that your dad then built a house?

MO: Yeah, I think it's 1939. He moved out, and they built a... my uncle on the picture there, he built at the same time, around the same time, there was four homes. And my uncle, my dad's younger brother was there, too, so they all built a house, moved out from the cabin around 1939 or '36, in Steveston.

TI: Okay. So did they all, like, buy some land together and then built the houses there?

MO: Yeah. I could remember my uncle, our house, my dad's brother, and I think his cousin.

TI: So all the family.

MO: Yeah. Those houses are still there.

TI: Interesting. So these houses, how close were they to each other?

MO: How close were what?

TI: Yeah, so were they just right next door to each other?

MO: Well, they had a pretty good yard.

TI: Each one had a pretty good yard?

MO: Yeah.

TI: And when those four houses were built, were there other houses nearby?

MO: Oh, yeah.

TI: So explain to me where in Steveston this was?

MO: It was on what they called Broadway Avenue.

TI: And how far away was that from the river?

MO: Well, maybe a mile.

TI: And how did it feel for you to have your own house? Did it seem different to you?

MO: Well, you know, it was different living in your own place. It was a big house anyways, full house, full basement, upstairs.

TI: And who built the house? Was it your dad and his...

MO: I don't think it was my dad. Somebody must have been...

TI: But this is like a brand new house in 1939, four brand new houses with all your family there. And how many people lived in these four houses? When you think of all the people there?

MO: My uncle Miyamoto, called Miyamoto, there was only my uncle and his wife, my dad's sister, and my sister was living there. In our house we had our family, and then next door, my dad's brother, younger brother, they didn't have any kids. Their house was a little smaller. And my cousin, dad's cousin, Kishinos, were... the family about four or five people.

TI: Okay, so total, it feels like, about, what? Fifteen or so people there?

MO: Yeah.

BY: Were your dad's brothers and cousin, were they all fishermen, or just your father?

MO: My dad was a fisherman. Yeah, my dad was the only fisherman. His brother, Dad's younger brother, was working in the fishing industry but he was, this was a collective. Collecting the fishes for his company.

BY: And how about his older (brother-in-law, Miyamoto)? What did he do?

MO: I don't think he was a fisherman, he had a farm, I guess.

BY: And the cousin, do you remember? The cousin, their cousin?

MO: Oh, he was a fisherman, yeah.

TI: Now when you said your dad's boat was a gillnetter, so it was a two-person, was the other person one of the family members?

MO: No, it was some young guy. Usually young... hired the young Japanese guys.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

BY: So I have a question about, so were most of the fishermen in Steveston Japanese or white? What was sort of the ratio between...

MO: My dad never associated with hakujin.

BY: So that was my question. What were the relationships like between the Japanese fishermen and the white fishermen?

MO: Not too many going on.

BY: Did they not like each other?

MO: Well, competition was pretty stiff, but I don't think there was too many white fishermen in the Fraser River.

TI: So it was mostly dominated by the...

MO: Japanese fishermen.

TI: So how common was it for a Japanese to own his own gillnetter? Were there quite a few that also had their own boats?

MO: Yeah, mostly had their own boats.

TI: And do you have a sense of how your father compared with the other fishermen?

MO: My dad was a good fishermen; he was one of the top fishermen in the Fraser River.

TI: So what made him such a good fisherman? I mean, aren't all the boats kind of the same, or was his boat different?

MO: Well, I guess you got to learn all the stuff in the river. So I don't know. My dad was one of the better fishermen in Steveston.

BY: Do you know how he learned to fish?

MO: Well, I think that's the only thing that bothers me. My grandfather might have been a fisherman, too, but I don't know.

TI: I'm guessing, too, when you think about fishing on the Fraser River with a gillnetter, that's kind of a special thing. I mean, I would think it's kind a lot of local...

MO: Before the war, my dad never went out other than fishing in the Fraser. After the war, they went up north towards...

TI: Because that's different. Because I've done gillnetting, like, in Alaska, that's different than river gillnetting.

MO: Yeah. Fraser River fishing is just, they fished the tide, when the tide is right. They worked pretty hard.

TI: Right, and you have the tides, you have the river current, you have all those different things you have to account for.

MO: You know, watched the current and that, and when the tide gets lower, all the steamers, you know, all these freighters come in, you got to watch those guys.

TI: Yeah, so there's a lot going on. I mean, I remember being on a gillnetter and, yeah, you feel like sometimes you're out there by yourself, but then you have a big steamer come right towards you, and they don't move, you have to move. And you have to be careful of your nets and everything, where they are.

MO: Oh, yeah. You got to make sure you don't run by those.

TI: Well, was it really... everyone has kind of their special spots, or the best places to lay the nets. And so it is competitive to get there first, too, to lay those nets.

MO: They always get a, gather in the same spot, good fishing spot, and they'd take turn, you know.

TI: Oh, so there was kind of a, taking a turn in terms of, maybe the prime spots.

MO: Yeah.

TI: How did they decide that?

MO: Hmm?

TI: How did they decide that? How did they know how to take turns?

MO: Well, I guess the boat that came to the certain spot first gets their turn.

TI: So that's what I notice about gillnetters is, the first one out there gets the best spot, so that's why they had to...

MO: Yeah, well, depends on what time of day it is.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

TI: So let's go back to you, and you talked about earlier taking the tram to high school. But in Steveston, what school did you go, like, in elementary school? Do you remember going to elementary school in Steveston?

MO: How many what?

TI: Like grade school, did you go to grade school in Steveston?

MO: Grade school was right in Steveston, Lord Byng school, Lord Byng school. So I think elementary school was right in Steveston.

TI: And so describe that. Who were your classmates? If you think about your, like, first and second grade classes, tell me about who your classmates were in terms of Japanese and Caucasian.

MO: Half and half, I guess. There's a lot of Japanese in Steveston that time.

TI: And so for you growing up, who were your best friends? Were they Japanese or Caucasian or both?

MO: I got both. Mostly Japanese, though, in the tram, in the streetcar to go to high school, from Steveston actually there was mostly all Japanese.

TI: For your friends who were Caucasian, did you ever visit their homes?

MO: Yeah.

TI: Okay, so tell me about that. When you went to their homes, did their homes seem any different than...

MO: No, they were all the same.

TI: Pretty much same, so the way the houses were set up, the furniture... but the food, was the food different?

MO: Hmm?

TI: How about the food?

MO: Food was... you know, we'd tasted English food, too, before.

TI: Okay. How about, like, Japanese community events? Were there, like, kenjinkai picnics?

MO: Well, my dad was pretty active in a young men's club or something like that, you know, when I was growing up.

TI: And so what would the young men's club do? What type of things would...

MO: I don't know what they actually did. [Laughs]

TI: Well, how about things like, so I think of a fishing town, were there things like, much gambling and drinking and things like that?

MO: Well, you know, I don't know too... my dad never drank, so I don't...

TI: Okay.

BY: So did you go to, like, Japanese community picnics or go to a church?

MO: Yeah, our family belonged to a United Church.

BY: So a Christian church?

MO: Yeah.

BY: And was that mostly Japanese or a mix?

MO: Yeah, Japanese, Japanese United Church.

BY: Oh, okay. So would there be church picnics and church things like...

MO: Yeah. And then there's a Buddhist church, there were quite a few Buddhist people there.

BY: Do you remember anything like Obon, Bon Odori or undokai or anything like that?

MO: Oh, yeah.

TI: So tell us about that. What can you remember about those things? Just try to paint those pictures because we're just really curious, what you could remember?

MO: Oh, yeah. I was playing a lot of sports.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

BY: What were your favorite sports at that time?

MO: Well, baseball mostly.

BY: And was that like a school team or just pickup games?

MO: Pickup games.

BY: Pickup.

MO: And then had grown up at Asahi, Asahi baseball.

TI: Yeah, they were famous, right? They would come down to the United States.

MO: They had a competition with a team in Vancouver and Steveston at that time.

TI: Yeah, they were... so were you a baseball player, good enough that you thought about playing on some of these, I call them semi-pro teams?

MO: Well, I didn't play until Winnipeg because I played a lot of...

BY: Did basketball.

TI: Baseball. Oh, there was something else I was going to ask, can't remember. Sports... yeah, it's just interesting just this early Steveston life is different, especially in a fishing town.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Okay, so let's go to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Do you remember how you heard about that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, where you were?

MO: I was in the new house there. And I think when they... well, they came and took my radio, I think. We were under curfew, we couldn't go out after dark.

TI: Now, do you remember going to school the Monday after Pearl Harbor and what it was like going to school?

MO: I don't know whether we were going to school at that time.

TI: Yeah, so December, I think in the United States, people were still going to school.

MO: I don't know whether we stopped going to school or not, right there.

TI: I mean, do you remember going to school at all after Pearl Harbor?

MO: I think I went to school. I finished grade ten, so Pearl Harbor was December, right?

TI: Yeah.

MO: So I finished that year.

TI: I guess what I'm thinking about is whether or not you or the other Japanese were treated differently after Pearl Harbor.

MO: No. I don't think we were treated any different.

BY: So when did things start to change? Like when were there... you had mentioned the curfew and they took your radio, like how soon after Pearl Harbor did all of that happen?

MO: Well, I think we were stopped from going outside right after the war broke out.

TI: Do you remember any changes with your father or your uncles or his cousin in terms of their work and how they changed?

MO: I don't think so. Well, that's December, so there's no fishing, they weren't fishing.

TI: So eventually your family is going to move from Steveston. Do you remember getting ready for that? Like preparing the house or the boat or anything like that?

MO: Well, I think my dad tried to sell his boat to somebody. But I think he left it for the custodian, they call it government custodian. They looked after the fishing boats and the house, and they were sold on the auction or something like that. I don't think my dad got any money out of it.

TI: But before that happened, before they gave it to the custodian, do you remember, like, packing things up and storing them in some ways?

MO: I don't think they did.

TI: For the Japanese families during this time, what were people thinking?

MO: Oh, they thought the war is not going to last that long. That's what the Japanese people were thinking.

TI: Because they thought that the war would be over really fast and Japan would lose or win?

MO: Oh, I don't know. You know, the Japanese people think, this war is not going to last that long. So that's part of why the... the government didn't come and gather all the people like they did in the States.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

TI: So talk about your family and when they left Steveston, how did they go? I mean, you mentioned, like, in the United States, they would come with buses and stuff and there's a pickup point. But it sounds like it was different for you and your family, can you remember how you left Steveston?

MO: You know, only reason I left...

TI: I'm sorry, what's that?

BY: Did you go by car or bus or train?

MO: Well, like Minto, I think we took... I don't know how we got that. Anyway, we took a train out of Vancouver, I think.

TI: Okay. Do you remember how you got from Steveston to Vancouver? Because it's about, what, 15 miles or so?

MO: Yeah. I don't know. Probably loaded up with probably... I don't know.

BY: So in the United States, when people were removed from their homes, they could only take what they could carry. Was that true for you?

MO: Yeah. Well, Steveston, too. They didn't take too much stuff with him when we moved to Minto.

TI: And when you got to Vancouver, do you remember anything when you got to Vancouver? Like how long you were there before you went to Minto?

MO: Well, I think it took the same day.

TI: Okay, so it's just like a transfer point, Vancouver.

MO: Yeah, going to train to Ashcroft and then to Minto there.

TI: Yeah, because I think I read someplace where, yeah, the train did go either to Minto or nearby Minto there was the train that goes there. And so who else besides your family went to Minto?

MO: Oh, the four family up there, and quite a few families from Steveston went to Minto. Minto really had, well, fifteen or twenty families from Steveston, and quite a few from Vancouver. And even from Vancouver Island, mostly all Japanese.

TI: So do you know how your family and the four families that were related and the other Steveston people, how it was decided that you got to go to Minto Mines versus many people went from there to Hastings Park, but you went to Minto Mines.

MO: I don't know how we decided. My dad was pretty active, so he knew some people in Vancouver.

TI: No, it's interesting because I read a little bit, and it seems like, to get to Minto Mines, it was only the early, kind of, the people who were removed earlier went to Minto Mines, and it was considered one of the better places to go for a Japanese Canadian, rather than going to, like, Hastings Park and to the other places.

MO: Oh, yeah. Well, we weren't forced to go Minto Mines, I don't think.

TI: Yeah. In fact, I think it was considered by some as a "voluntary evacuation," similar to...

MO: It's just volunteer, yeah. Because we weren't forced to go, like in the States, never gathered and forced to go.

TI: But you couldn't stay in Steveston, right? I mean, you had to go somewhere, right?

MO: Well, yes. Japanese have to move out of Steveston. Some people didn't, though, they decided they didn't want to move out of the coast. They were, I think they were forced to move to, just a place, camps outside, Tashme, called Tashme outside Hope.

TI: So it sounds like what you're saying is that your family was one of the early families to leave Steveston, that you left maybe earlier than some other families?

MO: Yeah, well, I don't know whether people that gathered in Hastings Park went to a relocation center in interior B.C. I don't know what time, whether we were, we left east before them or not.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

BY: So you were around fifteen, sixteen years old when that happened, and you had grown up in this town, you now are moving to this strange place. So what were your feelings at that time, of having to leave your home and to go this new place?

MO: Well, you know, we were kids.

BY: Yeah, but what were your feelings? As a teenage boy?

MO: Well, we had a good time in Minto. [Laughs]

TI: So this is the part I want to hear about. Because I have read about, there were a lot of activities at Minto.

MO: Well, there was pool room, you know, all the young kids were playing pool. [Laughs]

TI: And the other thing you mentioned -- well, we'll keep going. So pool, what else did you do there?

MO: Well, I was working in a sawmill they had, too, at nighttime.

TI: And so what did you do at the mill? You said at night, what would you do at the mill at night, what kind of work?

MO: Well, we had some clippings, sawmill, and I'm piling up those slabs of timber.

TI: Okay. I read that at Minto, or nearby Minto mines, you mentioned a sawmill, there's also like a pulp and paper mill, do you remember that?

MO: I don't think we had paper, it's just a sawmill.

TI: Just sawmill, pulp. Do you remember, like, sometimes the mills, there's that sulfur smell, that really kind of stinky smell? Do you remember that at all?

MO: I don't know.

TI: Yeah, if you lived there, you would remember it. It's that sulfur smell. So tell me more about your first impressions. When you went Minto Mines, what did it look like? When you found your house, and just talk about Minto Mines.

MO: Well, we were living in a house quite a ways from the main drag. I think it was... that house we stayed in was used as a, kind of... I don't know what they'd call it. There were quite a few away from the main drag. It was a big, probably the biggest house we were staying in, because three families stayed in the house.

TI: And why were these houses there? I mean, why weren't they being used?

MO: Well, when the Minto Mine closed, they were empty. There must have been about twenty homes out there.

BY: Were they nice houses?

MO: Yeah.

BY: Like nicer --

MO: And they had a hotel, big hotel. Like this picture here, where I left there, that's the commissary house. Oh, this one here. Post office.

TI: Okay, so this was a building in Minto?

MO: Yeah.

TI: And Barb was saying, compared to your house in Steveston, how did the house in Minto Mines compare?

MO: Oh, it was pretty good, same.

TI: About the same. And so they had, like, indoor plumbing?

MO: Yeah, they were indoor plumbing. And in the wintertime, this whole thing is freezing, water pipes so they'd go and get their water supply.

TI: Oh, okay, so you would have to get your own water supply.

BY: So how did your family support itself? Like your father was, obviously wasn't fishing any more, and you had to buy food...

MO: I think Dad might have sport fished. The back yard, there was a tributary, I think it was Thompson River running down there, Minto Mines. He might have caught some fish down there.

BY: But how would he buy groceries?

MO: Well, there was a grocery store there.

BY: But how would he get the money to buy the groceries? Where did he work, make enough money in the sawmill?

MO: Well, I don't know. I don't think he was getting any pay that much from the sawmill, working at a sawmill.

TI: Now, so did the family create gardens and things like that to raise their own food? Like vegetable gardens?

MO: Yeah, they had vegetable gardens there.

TI: When you think about the time for the family, was it kind of a hard time in terms of food and stuff, or did it just seem regular?

MO: Just regular. In the fall they all went to hunt for mushrooms.

TI: Like matsutake?

MO: Matsutake, lot of matsutake there.

TI: Well, so you're kind of in the interior. You showed a picture, there's lots of snow. So were there things like ice skating or skiing?

MO: Yeah, the kids were ice skating.

TI: So these were kind of new things for you, right? Ice skating?

MO: We were ice skating, yeah.

TI: How about like snow shoeing or skiing?

MO: No, I don't think we were... as a kid we were going up the slope with the sled, but nobody skied. I don't think... nobody took up skiing or anything like that, we were kids.

TI: How about like in the summer? Hiking and fishing in the lakes or streams?

MO: I don't know whether there was hiking or not. I remember going mushroom hunting.

BY: Did you organize sports teams in Minto? Because you said you played baseball.

MO: Well, I don't know, there wasn't too many my age group down there, they were mostly young kids, younger than me.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

TI: Earlier we were talking about when you were in Steveston, you would take the tram to go to high school. So what was the school situation like in Minto Mines?

MO: Minto Mines they didn't... young kids were, they hadn't started any school, elementary school. Young kids were just... I don't think they were going to school down there.

TI: So what did the parents do for education?

MO: Well, they started some school, some teachers there, but it was not organized that well.


TI: Okay, so we're talking about the schools in Minto Mines, and you talked about how, for the younger kids, it sounds like there was a teacher to do some... but for you in high school, how did you get your education when you were at Minto Mines?

MO: I was trying to get my correspondence. I didn't have any teacher, there was no teacher down in Minto.

TI: So literally you would get mail and you would look at the mail...

MO: Yeah, by mail.

TI: And you would have lessons to do and then you would...

MO: Yeah, they'd give you lessons. I didn't do too well, so I decided to move on.

BY: Were there other students your age? Like would you get the correspondence together and all sit down and work on it together and send it back?

MO: We didn't get together, no.

BY: So it was all by yourself?

MO: Yes.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

TI: So how long did you stay in Minto Mines before you decided...

MO: I think I stayed... I think I stayed there a year and a half. Well, we moved there in May of '42, and I think I moved out of there in '44. I might have stayed there about two years.

TI: And so that decision to leave Minto mines, was that your decision or was it your parents' decision in terms of...

MO: Well, I don't know. My dad forced me to go because I wasn't doing anything... I don't know. [Laughs]

TI: I know, because I was thinking, that's not too bad, not to go to school.

MO: I was, just finished grade ten, so I think Dad thinks I should get some education.

TI: That makes sense to me, too. As a parent, I think that's what I would be thinking. So why Winnipeg? Why would you go there versus someplace else?

MO: I think my sister was going first, I think. And there was, Winnipeg, I got in the high school there. Daniel Mac, there was a missionary, I think it was Miss Mcgaffinor somebody, helped me. And when I enrolled in Daniel Mac High School there, there was only me and another kid from a Japanese, two of us, that high school, when we were going there.

TI: And because Winnipeg was far enough inland, were there Japanese from the coast that moved there directly from the coast? Or like you, they were someplace else and then they...

MO: Oh, when we went to Winnipeg, there was a Japanese family in Winnipeg already. They must have moved out there from Steveston.

BY: What was your sister doing in Winnipeg?

MO: She was going to high school, too, but she went to a different high school than I did.

BY: You lived separately?

MO: Yeah, we were not living together.

TI: Well, so, if you didn't live with your sister, who did you live with?

MO: I was bunking in with my dad's friend, he was in Winnipeg. He knew... he was my dad's friend, he was a fisherman, too.

TI: Oh, okay, a fisherman with your dad.

MO: I don't know how I got to Winnipeg. I think his son was a chick sexer.

TI: Okay. And do you remember your dad's friend's name?

MO: Yeah, Kimura.

TI: And so he was kind of your dad's age, about the same age?

MO: Yeah.

TI: Okay, so he's like of like a, almost like an uncle or something to you.

MO: Yeah, well, I knew him pretty well before.

BY: And what was he doing there?

MO: He was working in some tanning company.

BY: But there was no, like, big Japanese community there? Just a few?

MO: No, not in Winnipeg. He was living with this Japanese family that was there, he's from Steveston, too. I think their name was Sato.

TI: So when you go to school in Winnipeg, what was the response of your other classmates, the ones who weren't Japanese?

MO: Oh, they were curious. Japanese, the first time they'd seen Japanese there. I had a good time in Winnipeg, though.

TI: So were there any, kind of, like hard times where maybe you got bullied or something like that?

MO: No, I didn't think we got bullied. We were treated pretty good. Me and another Japanese guy, we were small. We were small for, being Japanese, we made a junior basketball team there, and we'd play basketball for the high school.

TI: So that was a way of getting to know people, playing sports and things like that?

MO: Yeah.

TI: How about your education? You mentioned you spent a year or two doing correspondence courses. When you got to Winnipeg and started school, did you find yourself behind the other students, or were you okay?

MO: Well, I was behind maybe, yeah. Like grade eleven and senior in Winnipeg.

TI: Okay, so you had to kind of catch up.

MO: Yeah, I had to catch up.

TI: Any other memories from Winnipeg when you were staying with Mr. Kimura? Anything that comes to mind in terms of, yeah, a memory?

MO: Well, I had a good time in high school.

BY: So how did you and Mr. Kimura eat?

MO: I was a cook, chief cook for him. I was bunking in with him, you know. He has a room rented, one room, I was actually sleeping with him at nighttime.

BY: And you were the cook?

MO: I'm his cook, I was his cook.

TI: So there was a kitchen in the place that you would cook?

MO: Yeah.

TI: So what would you cook?

MO: Well, we were eating a lot of canned food, sardines that that. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, this sounds good. [Laughs] So how long did you and Mr. Kimura live together?

MO: I think I lived together until my dad, they moved about '45. I was maybe a year.

TI: And so '45, so that was when the war...

MO: I must have gone in '44.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

TI: Okay, and so your dad and your mom and your other siblings...

MO: When they came out, I think the place they rented was from a Ukrainian family. So I think I moved out of Mr. Kimura's care. [Laughs] I went to live with my dad when I was going to the last year of high school.

TI: That year that you were with Mr. Kimura, did you get involved in a lot of school social functions?

MO: Yeah.

TI: So like dances?

MO: Yeah, go to dances, playing basketball. I enjoyed Winnipeg. Then the people that were sent to Manitoba for sugar beets, they all moved back into Winnipeg.

TI: Oh, so more Japanese started coming?

MO: Yeah.

TI: Now, with more Japanese, did the Japanese ever get together for like a picnic or anything like that?

MO: Oh, yeah. Yeah, Winnipeg there was quite a few Japanese.

TI: Now, besides Mr. Kimura, were there other Steveston people that you saw in Winnipeg?

MO: Well, I don't think there was... the family Mr. Kimura rented a place upstairs, he's from Steveston.

TI: So in 1945, your family moves from Minto to Winnipeg. So why did they move? Do you know why they came to Winnipeg?

MO: Well, maybe it's because I was there, or I think my dad had a... I don't know, Dad's relative, one of Dad's relatives was living in Minto before the war. He was there.

TI: Say that one more time? One of your dad's relatives was living in Minto or Winnipeg?

MO: Winnipeg.

TI: Winnipeg, okay.

MO: He was married to a hakujin lady there. He must have lived in Winnipeg during the war, broke out.

TI: Okay, say that one more time. So your dad's relative was with a hakujin, you said?

MO: Yeah.

TI: Were they married?

MO: They were married, yeah.

TI: They were married. So it was a mixed race marriage, Japanese...

MO: Yeah. I don't know why he was living in Winnipeg, but he was there.

TI: Now, how common was it to have, like, a mixed race marriage back then? Like a Japanese and hakujin?

MO: Well, not very many that I know.

TI: Yeah, that's why I ask. Because in the United States, it wasn't that common either.

MO: Yeah. I don't know what he was doing in Winnipeg, though. He was maybe one of the outcasts from Japan, I don't know. [Laughs]

TI: Oh, interesting. Because you think, because it was a mixed marriage?

MO: Yeah.

TI: Interesting. So what about your sister, the one that was in Winnipeg before you, who did she live with?

MO: She was... no, she was living in a hakujin place, she was a schoolgirl.

TI: Oh, a schoolgirl. Okay, that makes sense.

MO: She went to a different high school in Winnipeg, though.

BY: And this was your sister who was adopted by your uncle?

MO: Yeah.

BY: And so when your family comes to Winnipeg, how did your life change? Did it change quite a bit?

MO: No, no, I enjoyed living at home. I mean, naturally, I didn't think I had too good... I mean, helping Mr. Kimura live.

BY: You didn't have to cook anymore, anyway.

TI: You probably missed your mom's cooking. [Laughs] Well, and just seeing the family, too, but probably missing your mom's cooking.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

TI: So this is 1945, what year did you graduate from high school?

MO: High school? I think I graduated '45.

TI: And so after graduating from high school, what did you do?

MO: I thought I'd take the same... I went to the University of Manitoba, got a degree in 1950.

BY: So about '46 to '50 or '45 to '50?

MO: Yeah.

TI: And so I don't know my Canadian geography. How far away is the University of Manitoba from Winnipeg?

MO: University of Manitoba? It's quite a ways.

TI: So you were going a long ways away then to go to college?

MO: Yeah.

TI: And is that going east then, you're going east?

MO: No. Fort Garry College was in Fort Garry, (University of Manitoba, Fort Garry campus), so took about half an hour by bus from Winnipeg. I took a streetcar to one of the streets, and then took a bus to college. There was quite a few... there was about half a dozen Japanese boys from Alberta in the University of Manitoba at that time.

TI: Okay, so you were commuting from Winnipeg to go to college back and forth.

MO: Yeah.

TI: And do you remember what kind of work your father did when he was in Winnipeg?

MO: Winnipeg? He was working in McKenzie Seeds. McKenzie Seeds, he didn't like that job.

BY: Seed, like S-E-E-D?

MO: Yeah, piling up the seed bag and all that.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

TI: So I'll ask this question. It's after the war, why didn't he go back to Steveston and go fishing?

MO: Well, I don't think he... he didn't like the work in Winnipeg.

TI: Yeah, so he didn't like that, so why didn't he go back to Steveston and fish?

MO: Dad, my dad?

TI: Yeah.

MO: Well, that's the only thing he knows, only place he could go back to.

TI: To Steveston, you mean, to fish? But why didn't he go back earlier? Why didn't he go back in 1945?

MO: Well, I don't know what year they allowed people to come back.

TI: Yeah, so that's what I read, I just wanted to kind of understand that.

MO: I think he went back in 1948 to fish.

TI: I think '49 is when I read that they let Japanese Canadians come back to the coast, West Coast.

MO: I don't know what happened in the States. Everybody could come back?

TI: Yeah, right away. 1945, people...

MO: '45?

TI: Yeah. But I know in British Columbia, they didn't let that until, I think, 1949.

MO: I don't know whether they were, there was restriction like that or not.

TI: But eventually your dad, he didn't like the seed company and eventually he went back to Steveston to fish.

MO: Yeah.

TI: Do you know how hard it was for him to start back fishing? I mean, was it easy for him to get a boat and everything and start fishing?

MO: Well, he was a good fisherman, so he went to this same... I think he went to fish for Nielsen Brothers when he went back.

BY: And so did he, he had a good reputation and so he got a job, is that what happened?

MO: Yeah, he was a good fisherman, so they knew him. So he didn't have a problem getting a cannery job, I mean, fishing.

TI: Okay, so the family then moves back to Steveston, your dad, your mom?

MO: When Dad went back, the only one that moved back was my mom, Harumi, and the one that... Ellen was born in Winnipeg.

BY: So were there very many Japanese who also returned to Steveston or was it much, much less after the war?

MO: I don't know. Yeah, I don't know if there's that many fishermen that went back to fish or not.

TI: Yeah, I'm sure it shifted a lot.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

TI: Okay, so going back to you, you graduated from the University of Manitoba. After you graduated with your mechanical engineering degree, where did you go? What was next?

MO: What did I do?

TI: Yeah.

MO: I was back in... helping Dad fish one summer. Actually, 1950, there was a big flood in Winnipeg. And I know when we worked, piling, helping out in the city, flood thing, and then I went back to help my dad fish one summer. And then when I was in Vancouver, A.V. Roe, they were looking for engineers. And Vancouver, I went to interview and got a job. That's why I got a job with A.V. Roe Company.

TI: Now I'm curious, when you got that job, was your father glad that you got a job in, using your engineering degree, or did he want you to continue to fish with him?

MO: Well, you know, he didn't think I was a fisherman. [Laughs] This fishing is a tough job, you know. I mean, I really didn't like that.

TI: And so he didn't think you were a very good fisherman.

MO: I don't think I was a fisherman, I was helping my dad because he... and that year when I went to help Dad, we went up north, and it was a tough job. And when the season opened, he was out there all the time, you know. And you don't get to sleep, get enough sleep.

TI: Yeah. And probably, I'm thinking, because he was starting out again, he couldn't really afford to hire someone, right? So you were like family...

MO: Well, no, then he had young men working for him after that.

TI: Okay. So you interview with this company, what was the name of the company again?

MO: A.V. Roe.

TI: Yeah, A.V. Roe.

MO: It's an aircraft company. A.V. Roe Airplane Company in Toronto.

TI: Okay, so you got this job, so you moved all the way across the country?

MO: Yeah. And when I went to Toronto, there was a lot of Japanese in Toronto already, people that was either sent by the government or evacuated. Toronto was a big Japanese family there, lot of people.

TI: So did that surprise you when you got there, to see so many Japanese?

MO: No.

TI: Because you knew that there were a lot of Japanese there. Because my understanding is -- and we talked about this a little earlier -- right after the war, in 1945, Japanese Canadians could not return to the coast, the West Coast, and so many of them moved east to Toronto.

MO: Yeah, there was a lot of people moved east. Toronto got to be a big Japanese...

TI: Yeah. I think up until recently, it might have been the largest Japanese population, was Toronto. And so you're in the big city, Toronto, working as an engineer. So what was that like for you? Did you do a lot with the Japanese Canadian community when you were in Toronto? Did you do, like, social events and things like that?

MO: Oh, yeah, a lot of social events.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

TI: So I think at this point is about the time you met your wife in Toronto, I believe. So tell me about that, how did you meet your wife?

MO: Well... how I met my wife?

TI: Yes.

MO: Well... [laughs].

TI: And as you're thinking about this, what was your wife's name, her maiden name?

MO: Eiko Iwashita. She's from Edmonton, actually. She went to the University of (Alberta in Edmonton) and graduated a dietician.

TI: But she was originally from also the coast, too, right?

MO: She was from Vancouver.

TI: Vancouver, right, and then the war, she moved east and got to Toronto.

MO: I think she went to, during the war, she went to Edmonton to live with a Japanese family. Her dad was picked up by the Mounties right after the war broke out, and he was sent to some camp there in Ontario someplace. He was picked up because he had a business with Japan in Vancouver before the war. So I think he got picked up by the Mounties right when the war broke out, and they sent him away. So my wife's mother was my wife and two other girls, and they didn't know what to do when they had to move out. So they relocated to Edmonton with a Japanese family there before the war, so they lived with them.

TI: I see. And that's where your wife went to college?

MO: Yeah. And that's where she went to the University of Alberta.

TI: Alberta, okay. And then how did she get to Toronto?

MO: Well, she got a job with a Toronto hospital, I think.

TI: I see. So she was in the medical field, was she a nurse or doctor?

MO: Yeah, (she was a hospital dietician).

TI: So she's in Toronto and you're in Toronto, so how did the two of you meet?

MO: Well, we were both going to church and that. There was a lot activity going on with the YWCA.

TI: Okay, so it was kind of through these social activities that you would get to know each other. And so how did you start dating? Did you ask her out or did she ask you? How did that happen?

MO: Well... I don't know... how we met? I think we met when we were both going to a young people's club and that.

TI: Yeah, I'm just curious in terms of Toronto, I think of it as a resettlement community where all these Japanese Canadians are doing this. Just getting a sense of the social...

MO: Yeah, lot of social events. My wife used to be singer, she liked singing.

BY: So did you hear her sing and that was it?

MO: Hmm?

BY: Did you hear her sing and then that was it?

MO: No. [Laughs]

TI: So, Mak, part of this, we're doing this, a hundred years from now, your great-great grandchildren are going to see this, and they're going say, "How did Great Grandpa Mak meet Grandma, Great Grandma?" So these are kind of the stories, I think, for families, are really, really precious. So any stories about you dating your wife and what that was like in Toronto. Did you ever take her to a special restaurant?

MO: Wow, you're... [laughs].

TI: And if we're asking too many questions, you can tell us to stop, too. I like these kind of questions. And so how long did you live in Toronto?

MO: I lived in Toronto?

TI: Yeah.

MO: Let's see.

TI: Because you got married in 1954, and so how much longer after you got married did you keep working?

MO: I worked to '57.

TI: Okay, so about three more years.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

TI: And so tell me, what was it that had you leave Toronto?

MO: I left Toronto?

TI: Yeah, why?

MO: I had a job at Boeing.

TI: Tell me about that story. How did you get a job with Boeing?

MO: Well, we had an airplane in Avro, the jet airplane. It was even before Boeing had a flying airplane. So they were looking for engineers, and they sent out the... I was working with a lot of English engineers, and Boeing sent a, one of the chiefs down to interview all the engineers that worked for Avro, and I went for an interview with all these English friends of mine I made in (Avro). And I got a job.

TI: So Boeing made you a job offer after they interviewed you?

MO: Yeah.

TI: And back then, was it --

MO: Back then... all the English engineers that they also had an interview, they got hired. They got, after about three months, they were already leaving Avro and coming to Boeing. But I was Japanese, so it took me about a year before they gave me the visa.

TI: So this is the United States immigration taking longer to give you a visa?

MO: Yeah, I couldn't get into the States.

BY: So you're saying the English engineers got their visas before you got yours?

MO: Oh, yeah. They could get into the States right away, three months. I had to wait for a year before I could come down here.

TI: And were there moments when you thought you might not be able to get the job because it was taking so long?

MO: Yeah. Well, I didn't think... I already had a job offer from Boeing, but they were trying to get me down here, but the government didn't give me the visa 'til November. So I had to wait a whole year before I could come.

TI: And how was it for your wife? Was it easy for her, once you got her visa, for her to come?

MO: She didn't have any problems.

TI: As long as you had your visa.


TI: Okay, so it took a whole year to get your visa, these English engineers only took three months. And is your sense was because you were Japanese or was it because you had some specific difficulties?

MO: No, I had Japanese, just because I'm Japanese, I think. Boeing was really pushing for me to come down here.

BY: Do you know, do you feel like they were investigating you, or was there some kind of a quota?

MO: Well, I don't know. I don't know, those days, they were letting Japanese come down.

TI: So back then, I mean... yeah, it was just racism or there's a fear of Communism and things like that.

MO: '57, so I don't know when it was... U.S. wasn't letting any foreigner into the Japanese...

TI: Well, they let English people in. [Laughs] So this is a little bit of a tangent, but I'm curious, so what kind of jet were you working on in Toronto? You said it was before Boeing, I'm just curious, was it like a smaller plane, jet, or how large a plane was it?

MO: Well, it was a plane like the 737. It was flying, we had a flying airplane.

TI: That's interesting. Because coming from Seattle, you always think of Boeing as being kind of the pioneer in jet aircraft, but you're saying in Canada they were ahead of...

MO: They were ahead of... yeah.

TI: So why didn't this company in Toronto, why didn't it become like a Boeing?

MO: They folded up right after I came here.

TI: Is it because Boeing took all their engineers?

MO: I don't know. After I moved out here, three months after I moved out here, A.V. Roe kind of quit.

TI: And was that one of the reasons why you wanted to leave? Because you felt the company wasn't very solid?

MO: I think it was because of the prime minister, Canadian minister. A.V. Roe was gone.

TI: Interesting. So you moved to Renton in 1957. When you go from Canada to Renton, Washington, which is in the United States, how different was the United States, then, from Canada?

MO: Same thing.

TI: Just felt the same?

MO: I didn't see any difference.

TI: Yeah, I was just curious how it is. And so it was a pretty easy transition for you.

MO: Yeah.

TI: And you're actually closer to your parents in Steveston.

MO: Yeah, well, that's one of the reasons I moved, because I'll be closer to home, you know.

TI: And so I'm curious at this point, how are your parents doing back in Steveston? They're now back there for, it looks like, you're 1957, so it's been seven or eight years, they're back there. How well has your dad and mom done back in Steveston?

MO: How were they doing?

TI: Yeah. Were they able to start fishing again? Did he, like, buy a new boat or house?

MO: Yeah, Dad has to buy a boat and build a house. So he was doing pretty good, fishing.

BY: He wasn't a young man anymore.

TI: No, no. It's pretty impressive that your father could start up again and do all that.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

TI: And so when you're in Renton, you started raising a family, too. I think you had a daughter?

MO: Yeah.

TI: So tell me, what's the name of your daughter?

MO: Lorraine Akemi.

TI: And I have her that she was born in 1959?

MO: Yeah.

TI: So that's kind of the questions I have. I guess reflecting, your life is incredibly interesting to me. Starting with Steveston, growing up there in more of a fishing place, then going to Minto Mine, Winnipeg, and Toronto, then to Renton, I mean, your life has gone through lots of curves that were kind of forced upon you. But I'm curious, what advice would you have for a young person? Like if you think about having, maybe, a great grandchild or something, what would you want this person to know? I mean, just for a young person, what advice would you have for a young person?

MO: For what?

TI: About life, about living life?

MO: Well, I think living here is pretty good. United States is just like Canada, you know. I don't think any difference.

BY: I have a question. Did you become a U.S. citizen or are you still a Canadian citizen?

MO: I took out U.S. citizenship in 2000.

BY: Okay, and how about your wife?

MO: Yeah.

BY: And why did you decide that?

MO: Well, I don't know why we took out the U.S. citizenship or not. I don't know why. [Laughs]

BY: Because it sounds like you lived, like, forty years here, and then you decided, okay.

MO: Yeah.

BY: And your daughter is an American citizen.

MO: American-born, yeah, she didn't have any problem.

BY: So do you have any grandchildren? Do you have any grandchildren?

MO: Yeah, I have two (granddaughters).

BY: Grandchildren? Okay, so how old are they?

MO: They're about thirty. One of them is married to a Frenchman, and the other one, older one just got married, Japanese, he's in Hawaii.

BY: So when you see them and you talk to them, do you ever give them any kind of advice or share your stories? What's something that you tell your grandchildren?

MO: Grandchild? [Laughs] I don't know what to tell them.

TI: Mak, you're so nice. Our dads tell us...

BY: Tell us stuff all the time.

TI: ...tell our kids... [Laughs]

MO: I don't know what to tell them.

BY: Some people say, "Work hard, get an education," that kind of stuff.

MO: Oh, yeah, you know, older one is a doctor (of pharmacy).

BY: So they are doing fine.

MO: Doing pretty good.

TI: Yeah, I don't think our kids need us either. Well, that's my questions. Do you have anything else?

BY: No, I don't.

TI: Mak, this was wonderful, this was delightful. I had such a good time.

MO: I had a good time. I mean, I'm the only one living in my family now.

BY: Of all your siblings?

MO: Yeah.

BY: Even Ellen?

MO: Yeah, Ellen passed away, too. I'm the only one living now.

BY: You're the second oldest, and you're the only one who's left?

MO: Yeah.

BY: So did Norm ever, he came back? Norm came back to the U.S.?

MO: No, he never came back to U.S. He was in Vancouver.

BY: Oh, oh, but he left Japan.

MO: He was working in North Vancouver.

TI: But do you have any family left in the Vancouver area?

MO: Yeah, Norm's family, wife, and she's got two girls, and they're both married to hakujins. So I got relatives in Vancouver, (also in Winnipeg), I got relatives on wife's side in Toronto.

TI: Okay, well, thank you, so much.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2022 Densho. All Rights Reserved.