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-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

Mary I: And you were saying that after you left school, you went to work in the sawmills, right?

Mitsu I: Yes, I was, 1938 I went to Haney and worked in a sawmill, sawmill owned by Mr. Takemoto. I worked one year, and then came back to Mission. And then in 1939, there was an Englishman that built a new sawmill near Hope, in a small town called Spusom. And he came to Mission and wanted people to work in the sawmill. So Mr. Tsuji and Mr. Inouye wanted to go, and they came and asked me because I spoke English, and they never spoke English, so they needed someone that spoke English to go with them. So I says, "Okay, I'll go." So three of us went to Spusom and worked in the sawmill.

Mary I: Was your father okay with that?

Mitsu I: Yes, he was okay.

Mary I: What were the conditions like working in a sawmill?

Mitsu I: Very good. Yeah...

Mary I: What kind of hours did you work?

Mitsu I: Eight hours. It was eight hours a day, and you only could work in the wintertime, 'cause when the summer comes, you can't get up the mountain because it would be so muddy and the ground would be so soft, the trucks wouldn't go up at all. So we worked there one year, and then in the spring we couldn't work, so they closed the sawmill for the summer.

Mary I: Were you treated well?

Mitsu I: Yes, we were treated very good. We had to cook our own meals, and yes, we were treated very good.

Mary I: So where did you live when you were working there? Did you live with other people?

Mitsu I: No, the sawmill had cabins for some of the employees, and we had our own cabin where we slept and cooked our own meals, three of us. Most of the people that worked there were all hakujin people, and they had a kitchen, too, and there were Chinese people working there in the kitchen, but we cooked our own meal.

Mary I: Were you paid well? Do you remember what you were paid?

Mitsu I: No, I really don't know how much we were paid, but I guess it was all right.

Mary I: Now, I want to talk a little bit about the war, when the war came. What happened to the family then?

Mitsu I: Well, in 1940 when, that's when the war started, and in the spring, the mill, the sawmill closed for the summer, so I couldn't go back to my home in Mission because they were all evacuated to Picture Butte, Alberta, because of the war started, and they were all sent one hundred miles outside of Vancouver.

Mary I: So you mean your father and the two other brothers?

Mitsu I: They went first.

Mary I: They went first?

Mitsu I: So I couldn't go to Mission, so I decided, I had to go to Alberta.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2005 Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Densho. All Rights Reserved.