Victoria’s Japanese community remembered on internment anniversary

Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe moves to have the city rescind offending legislation

Anita Malkiewicz

On April 22, 70 years ago, a ship called the Princess Jones took Victorians of Japanese descent away from their homes for good.

To mark the occasion on Sunday, historians Ann-Lee Switzer and her husband, Gordon, launched their new book about this vanished community at Victoria City Hall.

The Switzers discovered the need for the book while researching the Japanese cemetery in Victoria.

“We thought that we could just look up the history of the Victoria-Japanese community and put it in our book about the cemetery,” Ann-Lee said. “But there was nothing … so we got to work.”

Gateway to Promise: Canada’s first Japanese Community, covers the history of the Japanese community in Victoria until April 22, 1942, when they were exiled to internment camps on suspicion of espionage by the Canadian government.

The book covers the Japanese Tea Garden on the Gorge, the donation of cherry trees, the Methodist church and other contributions.

“Although it was a small community, they were integrated into the (greater) community,” Ann-Lee said.

After the Japanese military bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, many Victorians expressed sympathy for their Japanese neighbours, she added. Through the research project, the Switzers got in touch with many of the survivors who left Victoria for good as teenagers.

“Mostly they had happy memories of Victoria … and they didn’t, most of them, carry much bitterness,” Ann-Lee said. “Many of them still keep in touch with their  friends in Victoria. It’s amazing.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

Did you know?

• On Feb. 27, 1942, Victoria city council voted to endorse a resolution passed by the City of Kelowna stating, in part:

“… that all male Japanese of military age should be interned; that any evacuation of other Japanese to east of the Cascade Mountains should be under strict supervision of the Dominion Authorities … and should be effected in a manner that would not arouse popular indignation and outrage.”

• This month Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe told council she would be introducing a motion to rescind council’s original motion from 1942.

Just Posted

Greater Victoria teacher’s certification suspended for inappropriate conduct with female students

Gregory Garos was employed by the District as a middle school teacher

Victoria’s historic Point Ellice House re-opens after months of closure

A new exhibit will be on display at the house to explore the ‘Politics of Luxury’

International, Disney and Hallmark films set to be filmed in Victoria in 2019

Local and international production companies seeking out film locations in town

Missing Saanich man last seen in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Jonah Donato, 40, travelled to the mainland in June

Toy Run organizer says motorcyclists unfairly targeted

Motorcycle toy drive returns Sept. 29 to Turkey Head

Rents in most Canadian cities are unaffordable for lower-income earners: study

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

Film features Chez Monique, an off-the-grid restaurant on West Coast Trail in B.C.

“The story we are trying to share is of the loving haven they created and sustained for decades.”

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

Scheer on Trump: It’s ‘offensive’ to question the family background of critics

Trump is being called a racist for saying that the four congresswomen should go back where they came from

Instagram expands Canadian pilot removing ‘like’ counts to more countries

Social media giant plans to roll out the test in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, Italy and Ireland

Most Read