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-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

Mary I: What about other jobs? What kind of, what other jobs have you had?

Mitsu I: Well, after working as a chauffeur for fifteen years, Mr. Hyland passed away and his sister passed away, so I had no job. And the Royal Bank built a new building at Bay and Front, and they had an ad in the newspaper looking for employees to work down there, so I applied for a job as a security guard. And when I went down to see the man in charge of employment, he was an ex-serviceman. When I told him that I was ten years with the British army, he gave me the job right away as a security officer at the Royal Bank South Tower desk. And the bank at that time, they just finished building the new tower, and they needed tenants to rent the floors. So they had me sitting at the desk. Japanese firms were just starting to come into Toronto, and Bank of Tokyo, a man from Bank of Tokyo came in, he took an office there, Mitsui, Fuji Bank, Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, Sanyo Securities, there was about seven or eight Japanese company, they all moved into the Royal Bank. Bank thought if I was there, it would be good for the bank, so I worked there for, 'til I retired at sixty-five.

Mary I: Did you like that job?

Mitsu I: It was very good. Met a lot of important people; I met the former prime minister John Turner, and Mr. Steve Roman, chairman of Dennison Mines. I became friends with a lot of people there at the Royal Bank. It was really good.

Mary I: Which job would you say, over all the jobs you had in your life, did you like the best?

Mitsu I: I think the, the chauffeuring job was really good because Mr. Hyland, we used to go to the racetrack every day in the summertime, 'cause we knew Mr. E.P. Taylor and everybody, we used to get a free pass to the races. And we had a good time, and Mr. Hyland, well, he played the stock market, and we used to drive downtown and visit all the stockbrokers, went around. It was very interesting. Met a lot of important people.

Mary I: What kind of Rolls Royce did he have?

Mitsu I: I was driving a Rolls Royce.

Mary I: Yeah.

Mitsu I: It was very nice, it was built for the queen when the queen came to Canada and they didn't use it, so the dealer wanted to get rid of it, so Mr. Hyland said, "I'll buy it," and he bought it. And it was nice.

Mary I: He let you use it as well.

Mitsu I: Yes, on Sundays we used to take it to church or we used to take it to the church picnic, and when he wasn't using it, I was able to. Because my wife was using, doing sewing, and I used to go down to Spadina and pick up clothes to bring home, and then sew at home, and take it back. And the Jewish man that ran the New Mode, every time I'd come with the Rolls Royce, he was surprised to see me. [Laughs]

Mary I: Didn't your neighbors find it odd that you would have this Rolls Royce and you're driving all the time in it? [Laughs]

Mitsu I: Yeah, lot of people, they were really surprised.

Mary I: And what, what about your children? What happened to them as they grew up? What occupations did they choose?

Mitsu I: What's that?

Mary I: What kind of jobs did they end up doing, your two sons, Dick and Arthur?

Mitsu I: Well, Arthur went to, Arthur and Dick, they both went to University of Toronto, and Dick went into dentistry, and Arthur (...) got into pharmacy. And Dick had his own practice for a while, and Arthur joined, I think it was called Boots. No, first it was Tamblyn's Drug Store, and there was a man named Takahashi there, and he was offered a job as a druggist. And then it came Boots, and then after that, it was Pharma Plus. And Arthur, he did very good.

Mary I: And Arthur was born when?

Mitsu I: Arthur was born in, on Heath Street, so it would be about... came here in '57. Be about 1961.

Mary I: '59. 1959, I think.

Mitsu I: '59.

Mary I: Yeah, I think it was 1959. And would you say, because your sons grew up in a pretty much... well, it's a "white" area, they didn't really associate with too many Japanese.

Mitsu I: No, because --

Mary I: Are they interested in the Japanese culture?

Mitsu I: No, they didn't go to Japanese Cultural Centre at all. No, living on Heath Street, never came in contact with any Japanese at all. Just some Canadians, there weren't too many children on Heath Street, and I was too busy working, so I never, only time we went was either picnic or we used to go to Japanese movies sometimes, that was about it.

Mary I: And your wife, she eventually passed away?

Mitsu I: Yes, she passed away about seventeen years ago, now. She was fifty-nine, I think, when she passed away. Well, my wife says the two boys should have an education, and I thought they should because I never had a chance to go to school anyway, so, because in those days, when we grew up, we weren't allowed to go to university in B.C. anyway. If you wanted to go to the university they went back to Japan or they came east, or they went to United States. You weren't allowed to go to university in B.C.

Mary I: Are you happy with the way things have turned out for your boys?

Mitsu I: Yes, I think I've been very lucky through my life. I think, yes, I think it turned out very good.

Mary I: Do you ever regret that you didn't stay in Japan?

Mitsu I: No, I think I made a good decision when I came back here, yes. 'Cause Japan is nice to go for a visit, to go for a holiday or see things, but if you're gonna work, I think you'll be better in Canada. And I think our living condition -- things are much easier to live, the food, the rent is much more reasonable than in Japan.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2005 Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Densho. All Rights Reserved.