SEDAI: The Japanese Canadian Legacy Project

Sharing the unique history and experiences of Canadians of Japanese ancestry

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Pat: My father started a rooming house on Cordova Street, not far from Woodwards at that time and I lived grew up there until I was almost high school age and then we moved up to Powell Street and Main. Another rooming house. Well, my father used to take me to the ball games because he had no boys and so I guess, oh from the time I was 8 or 9, he would take me to the ball games and sit me on a bench and buy me a bag of peanuts and forget about me but I soon caught on. Then I started to play softball at school so, always a tomboy.

SEDAI: What do you remember of the evacuation?

Pat: Well, it was not a very good idea but like one reason why we got married so soon, was my father knew he would have to leave because he was a Japanese national. So my husband and I were going around together at that time and he said he would like us to get married so at least there would be someone to look after us and so that was right after Pearl Harbour. We became engaged and we got married on January 23rd and my father had to leave in March but as you know, things changed and all the men had to go so that just left just my mother and I and my sister and we still stayed at the rooming house until we had to be evacuated but soon after that like, Hide Hydo, she became Mrs. Shimizu, was the supervisor of schools and she asked me if I would like to teach but it never dawned on me to teach anybody but she gave me a choice of grade 3 or grade 1. So I said o.k., I'll take grade 3 and she said, oh no, you'll take grade 1. That was Hide but it was a wonderful experience.

SEDAI: What happened to your Vancouver properties?

Pat: Well, my father had this what they called the block, he had a hotel and there was a restaurant underneath and a couple of barber shops but all that, you know, he had to sell for a pittance because well, the government said they will look after it but there wasn't much of chance of that.

SEDAI: So, actually you were married before the war started or just as the war was starting.

Pat: Yes, like we were married in January and then well, by March, everybody was moving out so we thought well, we better get rid of everything we could because we couldn't take it with us and we had to sell all our furniture and the wedding cards were still in the drawers and that the people that came to buy the furniture, they started to cry to see this, you know and we had to leave all this behind us but there was no way of getting around it so I'm sure it happened to a lot of other people but

SEDAI: So you were reunited with your husband at Slocan, is that when you started your family?

Pat: Well, I was already pregnant when we left Vancouver and that was in about August so the baby wasn't quite developed but I guess the harsh winter and the situation.

SEDAI: Could you describe the family life in Slocan in an internment camp?

Pat: In Slocan? Well, everybody was in the same boat, you know, so there wasn't this competition who had more or less, everybody tried to help each other and of course, all the Japanese had gardens, they grew vegetables, whatever. And in a way, it was great, we had time to take lessons in different kinds of Japanese cooking, flower arrangements and I guess on the whole, while we were married, so we didn't go out. But for the young people, it was a lot of fun because they had a lot of friends, you know, and there wasn't much else to do but have a good time. But we managed, though we had only one, like a shack which we shared, like we were two families. So we were able to share that but in some cases, there were two different families living together.

SEDAI: And how many people would be in one shack?

Pat: In one shack? Well, like these shacks, well, I would say, next door, they must have had about eight people. There were five in ours and there were two families in the following building but there was a bunkhouse for the single men. And they had to think about building a schoolhouse for us and that took awhile. So once we started teaching school, we had to march our children to Bay Farm and shared their school for half a day and then march them home again, you know. Sometimes I had grade 1 classes. So, sometimes we sit under the apple tree and have fun or else go walking in the woods, pick apples. You know but the children were great. They wanted to learn so much. A lot of these families had come from Japanese communities so the children did not speak Japa… er English but that didn't seem to hinder them.

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