Densho Digital Archive
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre Collection
Title: Mitsu Ito Interview
Narrator: Mitsu Ito
Interviewer: Mary Ito
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: March 23, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-imitsu-01-0015

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Mary I: So when you came to Toronto and you were looking for a job, what did you think of Toronto at that time, of the city?

Mitsu I: Yeah, it's, it was very... it was quiet there in those days, very nice. So I didn't worry too much about anything.

Mary I: Did you think, like, oh, "This could be my home. This is a nice place, I could live here"?

Mitsu I: Yeah, uh-huh. I thought it was all right. People were very friendly.

Mary I: Did you feel you were treated well by other people?

Mitsu I: Well, it was only one month yet, so I didn't meet too many people, only my cousin and Reverend Tsuji, so I really didn't come in contact with too many Canadians yet.

Mary I: What about in the months that followed, this being after the war now. Did you experience any kind of bad feelings or animosity from other Canadians?

Mitsu I: Worked for this company for one month, and then they went on a summer holiday. It was July. They said they're gonna take one month's holiday. So I only worked one month and I said I couldn't wait for another month because I had a wife and child in Japan. So I looked in the newspaper and there was a job for a chauffeur's job near Avenue Road and St. Clair. So I asked Reverend Tsuji what he thought about it and he said, well, it was worth trying. So I answered the ad and I went to see Mr. Hyland at Avenue Road and St. Clair. And he said he had another Japanese man at, would want the job, too, but, "If you want the job," I told him what I was doing, working for the army, he says, "You could have it." I never had a driver's license yet, so I went for driver's test. I failed one time, but I passed the second time. And then he gave me the job as a chauffeur. And he said he has a house on Heath Street, that was near Heath and, St. Clair and Yonge. So he brought, he took me over to the house and he said, "You could live here and be my chauffeur." I thought that was good because then I could bring my wife over.

Mary I: What did your wife think about your coming to Canada and then she would have to come with her son, what did she think about that?

Mitsu I: Well, my wife's brothers and sisters told her, "Why don't you open up a store in Osaka?" A small store selling baked Japanese cakes, and she thought about it, but I decided to come (...) to Canada. I think I wanted to come back because I was thinking about the best way of getting back to Canada might be by joining the Canadian army, because some of the Niseis that was Canadian Niseis that were living in Japan joined the Canadian army and then came back to Canada. Well, I was thinking about that, but I came back on my own.

Mary I: Was she okay with coming here?

Mitsu I: Yeah, she didn't mind.

Mary I: So you started working as a chauffeur then?

Mitsu I: Right, started working for Mr. Hyland as a chauffeur, and I got my driver's license.

Mary I: Good thing.

Mitsu I: And I had a house to live in. And one day I was taking Mr., Ms. Hyland to Oshawa, and up by Hog's Hollow I went through a red light and I hit a car. Ms. Hyland said, "Oh, don't worry." She got out and talked to the driver of the other car and told her that the insurance would look after it and she said it was okay and everything was all right. We never had to call the police or anything. We just took off to Oshawa.

Mary I: How did they, how did they treat you when you worked for them?

Mitsu I: Mr. Hyland and Ms. Hyland were brother and sister. They were Irish people, Irish Protestant, and they treated me very good. Very good, Forest Hill around 1950, they still wouldn't allow Orientals to live in Forest Hill, and it was, I was the only Oriental on Heath Street. There was no Chinese or Japanese, nobody. They were all Anglo-Saxons. One time, one night when I was going home, about nine o'clock from Mr. Hyland's going down Avenue Road, a man and a daughter were walking in opposite direction, and when she passed me, she spit on me. It made me mad but there were two of them and I was by myself, so I thought I better not do anything because two against one, I would lose anyway, even if I'm in the right. But it made me mad, but I kept quiet. It never happened any more after that.

Mary I: You never had any, any problems or issues living here, on this street?

Mitsu I: No, the neighbors, never spoke to any neighbors at all, because they were, they all had their own, there were mostly lawyers living on this street, anyway, and they had their own summer cottage and they would go away on the weekends. So we didn't associate with the neighbors at all. There were a few that had children, and my boys used to play with them, but that was about all.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2005 Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Densho. All Rights Reserved.