Densho Digital Archive
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre Collection
Title: Bill Hashizume Interview
Narrator: Bill Hashizume
Interviewer: Norm Ibuki
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: October 29, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-hbill_2-01-0022

<Begin Segment 22>

NI: Why did you make that decision in '54 to come back?

BH: Well, it's much easier living here. Far better. Japan, although they lost the war, was pretty well still a closed society. The company structure was more feudalistic, the construction company was really feudalistic. If you weren't a relative of the founder or anything, why, you'd never get to the top. So it was much easier to make a go of it in Canada, so I came back. And I think I made the right decision. Sure, after I left, Japan embarked on an industrial comeback, and you know how prosperous she is now. Now it makes me wonder whether thing, but no, it's hard for me to make the thing because I, I went to Japan when I was sixteen, and I still had the customs, Canadian customs. And it's hard to get used to Canadian society and life per se. So my judgment was this is probably better if I went back to Canada and started over again.

NI: Did you come to Toronto?

BH: I came to Toronto.

NI: Where --

BH: Toronto, partly because my sister, my younger sister was already here.

NI: Oh, I see. So she returned before you?

BH: Yes, she returned in 1952.

NI: And why did she come back to Canada?

BH: Well, she came back after talking to friends, that Ontario, Toronto would be a good place to thing because there was hardly any discrimination. And a lot of Japanese Niseis, they moved to Toronto.

NI: So they created a new life here.

BH: Yeah.

NI: So what did you do when you arrived in Toronto?

BH: Well, I arrived in Toronto, my other older sister was already here.

NI: Okay, so was she --

BH: And my mother, she was already here, too. Well, my sisters called her over.

NI: Okay.

BH: My sisters called her over, that lived in Toronto.

NI: Were they married, your sisters?

BH: No, my younger sister was married, my elder sister was not married. She died a spinster. And then once I came back, why, sure, I knew that I had to, I had to restudy all over again. Sure, I had the basics, but you know, during the wartime years, you kept busy, tried to keep your stomach full. And we didn't do too much of study. Sure, I made passing marks, but even the passing marks, I think the professor was rather kind to me rather than being strict.

NI: So, when you were in Toronto...

BH: Well, I applied to the Association of Professional Engineers and they asked me to get my transcript for my education, which I did get from the high school that I graduated from, Kansai Gakuin, and Kobe Technical College and a couple references. And they asked me to write six papers plus a thesis, which I did. And upon passing it, why, I was a full-fledged engineer.

NI: When did you become a full-fledged engineer, what year?

BH: '58.

NI: '58, okay, six years. Or, sorry, four years. I see.

BH: And then after I got my papers, why, well, before that, as soon as I got back, I started working for the Department of Highways. It was called Department of Highways then, it's now Ministry of Transportation right now. But I started out there as a junior draftsman, and then once I got my papers, I was given an engineer's pay, which is substantially higher. And although the pay for an engineer was not as good as the others, like the federal government municipalities and private industry, nevertheless, I was easygoing. You did what you were told, and thirty-three years, thirty-two and a half years later, why, I had to retire at age sixty-five.

NI: Do you, the return to Canada, have you had any regrets since coming back to Canada? Nothing.

BH: No, sometimes during the 1970s, I had thoughts about just what life would be like if I was in Japan and had not, had I decided to stay there. Probably I would have, it would have worked out, but life wouldn't be as, well, life would be very hectic if I was in Japan, whereas it was leisurely here.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2005 Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Densho. All Rights Reserved.