Leslie McCorkill, Historian, Genealogist, Lecturer, Retired High School Teacher
"The Japanese in Canada: Early 1900's to the Second World War"
In the early 1950’s, more than 25% of the student population at Farnham Intermediate School was Japanese. Where had so many Japanese students and their families come from? Why had they come to Farnham? What happened to them after they arrived?
We shall look at the arrival of the Japanese in British Columbia in the early 1900’s—young men who came in search of work in the fishing, mining and railway building industries. Almost from the very beginning, they were treated very badly and blatant instances of racial discrimination were evident.
During World War II, approximately 22,000 Japanese in British Columbia were forced to leave the coast and move into internment camps in the interior of the province. We shall look at what life was like in 6 of the more important internment camps and the horrific conditions that existed. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, described the Japanese evacuation as “one of the great scandals of Canadian history “.
When the war ended, the Japanese in British Columbia were given two options: return to Japan or move to areas east of the Rockies. We shall examine the story of one young Japanese girl who was faced with having to make just that decision. And what happened to the houses and the farms and the property that had been left behind following the evacuation to the internment camps? This will be another part of this shocking and disturbing story of the Japanese in Canada.