Nikkei in the Kootenays
On January 14, 1942, several months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Canadians were forcibly removed from a 100-mile zone along the BC coast, and had their property confiscated—from fishing boats to vehicles, houses and their contents—but for the few bags they could carry. Adults were allowed 150 lbs., children 75 lbs.
In March 1942, many Japanese Canadians were incarcerated in livestock stables at Vancouver’s Hastings Park at the Pacific National Exhibition before being dispatched to internment camps in the Interior. Some Nikkei who had the financial means were allowed to relocate to Interior communities such as Lillooet and the Okanagan. The displacement of some 22,000 Japanese Canadians remains the largest mass exodus in Canadian history.
In April 1942, expulsion began to internment camps in the BC Interior, with the first arrivals in the Slocan Valley and Kaslo in May. Camps were set up in Kaslo, Sandon, the Girl Guide camp near Hills, Rosebery, around the New Denver golf course, New Denver, Harris Ranch between New Denver and Silverton, and south of Silverton at Slocan City, Bay Farm, Popoff and Lemon Creek.
Japanese Canadians began to arrive in New Denver on May 21, 1942. It became the third largest camp in the province.
In 1943, a 100-bed sanatorium for TB was constructed in New Denver’s Orchard, and Japanese Canadians were sent there from across the province. It was the largest medical facility for Japanese Canadians in the province.
At the end of the war, the Canadian government gave the ultimatum of moving east of the Rocky Mountains or being exiled to Japan. This became known as the Second Uprooting. All internment camps were bulldozed, destroying the evidence of incarceration, except New Denver. Those whom the BCSC deemed “TB cases, incurables and the very old without children to look after them” were moved to the Orchard from outlying camps: 1,200 people remained under the authority of the BCSC until 1957—12 years after the war. And so, New Denver became the only sizable postwar Japanese Canadian community, with the San as the focal point. Although the San closed in 1951, enough families remained to maintain a Japanese community for decades afterward.
Had TB patients, the infirm and their families not been shipped to New Denver from abandoned camps, the Japanese Canadian community in New Denver would have vanished along with the other camps, and the Kyowakai Society would not have survived as long as it did.
Today, the NIMC remains one of the few tangible remnants of the internment era and forms a main attraction for those wishing to explore the area and the other camps surrounding New Denver.
NIKKEI INTERNMENT MEMORIAL CENTRE (NIMC)
306 Josephine St. New Denver, BC
HOURS OF OPERATION
Anticipated opening May 1 – October 8, 2023
Open seven days a week
Telephone 250.358.7288 | Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the Village of New Denver