1941 to 2018 – A Selected Timeline
March – August Compulsory registration of all Japanese Canadians over 16 years is carried out by the RCMP.
December 7 Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. Under the War Measures Act, Order-in-Council P.C. 9591 all Japanese nationals and naturalized Canadians must register with the Registrar of Enemy Aliens.
December 8 Canada declares war on Japan. All Japanese fishing boats are rounded up and Japanese language schools and newspapers close. The New Canadian is the sole paper allowed to publish.
A FORCED UPROOTING
January – February Order-in-Council P.C. 365 creates a 100-mile “protected area” on the BC coast, from which male enemy aliens are excluded. All male Japanese Canadian citizens between the ages of 18 and 45 are ordered to be removed from the coast. Mass “evacuation” of Japanese Canadians begins.
March Under Order-in-Council P.C. 1665 Japanese Canadians are ordered to turn over property and belongings to the Custodian of Enemy Alien Property as a “protective measure only.” First arrivals at Vancouver’s Hastings Park for processing. British Columbia Security Commission initiates a scheme of forcing men to road camps and women and children to “ghost town” detention camps.
April 21 First arrivals in Greenwood, BC.
May 21 First arrivals at camps at Kaslo, New Denver, Slocan, Sandon and Tashme, BC.
November 30 First Kaslo issue of The New Canadian is published.
By the end of the year, approximately 12,029 persons are in detention camps in the interior of BC, 945 men are in labour camps, 3,991 are on sugar beet farms in the Prairie provinces, 1,161 are in voluntary self-supporting sites outside the “protected area,” 1,359 are given special work permits, 699 are interned in POW camps in Ontario, 42 are repatriated to Japan, 111 are in detention in Vancouver and 105 are in hospital in Hastings Park, approximately 2,000 are living outside the “protected area” but subject to restrictions.
January 19 Order-in-Council P.C. 469 allows the government, through the Custodian of Enemy Alien Property, to sell Japanese-Canadian property held in custody without owners’ consent.
People are gradually released from camps if they agree to move east of the Rockies. Many cities, among them the City of Toronto, are closed to persons of Japanese ancestry.
The Kyowakai Society is formed in New Denver and the Kyowakai Hall is built.
100-bed sanatorium for TB patients is built is New Denver.
August The Government announces a program to disperse Japanese Canadians throughout the country, to separate those who are “loyal” from those who are “disloyal,” and to “repatriate” the disloyal to Japan.
January At the request of the British government, Japanese Canadians are allowed to enlist in the Canadian Army.
A SECOND UPROOTING
Those remaining in the camps are canvassed for “loyalty,” and told to choose between “repatriation” to Japan and immediate movement east of the Rocky Mountains. Some 10,632 people sign repatriation forms, although half later apply to rescind their signatures.
January – May 150 Japanese Canadians volunteer for service with the Canadian Army in the Far East.
September 2 Japan surrenders after atomic bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
New Denver’s United Church school for Japanese Canadians closes. Fifty Nikkei students have to find a new school, but only 30 are initially accepted into the white school. Eventually the school is expanded to accept all the students.
January With all other camps closed or closing, 900 Nikkei continue to live in New Denver.
Deportation Order in Council is repealed but not before 3,965 Japanese Canadians, half of whom were born here, have left for Japan.
March 31 Four years after the end of the war, the final restrictions imposed under the War Measures Act are lifted, and Japanese Canadians gain full rights of citizenship and are free to move anywhere in Canada.
The “San” is closed.
Hatsumi Morishita is the first Japanese Canadian to be named Miss New Denver.
The BC Security Commission is disbanded and the shacks are deeded to those Nikkei who remain in the Orchard. As property owners, they are now allowed to vote and participate fully in municipal affairs.
Japanese Canadians in New Denver give lakeshore properties to the village for public use as a baseball field and park. This land now encompasses the marina, campground, baseball field, picnic grounds and swimming beach at Centennial Park.
The 30-year ban on access to WWII government records is lifted. Japanese Canadians are finally able to access wartime documents, laying the groundwork for redress negotiations.
Japanese Canadians across Canada celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first known Nikkei to arrive in Canada, Manzo Nagano.
In the wake of the Centennial celebrations, the battle for redress for Japanese Canadians’ unjust treatment during and after WWII begins in earnest.
The Centennial Hall is built in New Denver to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Japanese in Canada. Closed to the public, it holds archives and is a meeting place for the Japanese Canadian community.
The Village puts up a monument in the park to honour Japanese Canadians’ contributions.
August 29 The Kyowakai Society is incorporated as a society.
Mrs. Chie Kamegaya is elected as the first female President of the Kyowakai Society, prompting some male board members to resign.
April 14 500 Japanese Canadians rally on Parliament Hill in support of redress. Many prominent Canadians come out to support their cause and the new Minister of State for Multiculturalism, Gerry Weiner, makes a statement that opens up dialogue with the community.
September 22 Prime Minister Brian Mulroney announces a Redress Settlement negotiated between the National Association of Japanese Canadians and the federal government to acknowledge injustices against Japanese Canadians during and after World War II. The settlement includes individual compensation, a community fund, and the creation of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. It also includes the reinstatement of citizenship of those exiled to Japan. Grants from the community fund are used to support projects like the NIMC.
The Kohan Reflection Garden is created by Ray Nikkel of the Slocan Lake Garden Society to honour interned Japanese Canadians, built around the original teahouse that had been created by the Kyowakai Society and the cherry trees planted by the Fujinkai Society. A place of quiet contemplation, of carefully arranged flowers, grasses, trees, shrubs and ponds, the Kohan is a spiritual refuge by Slocan Lake.
Architectural consultant Bob Inwood is hired to design a plan for the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre. Model maker Ben Eales, assisted by Tsuneko Kokubo and Paul Gibbons, creates a master plan to scale.
October Sod is turned for the NIMC.
Master gardener Mr. Roy Tomomichi Sumi, a former internee at Tashme, Rosebery and New Denver, is brought on to design and build the Heiwa Teien (Peace Garden). It will be his final project.
A DREAM IS REALIZED
July 23 NIMC grand opening ceremony and dedication is held under a clear blue sky with over 500 guests. It is the only interpretive centre in Canada with original buildings dedicated to the history of the Japanese Canadian internment. Mrs. Chie Kamegaya cuts the ribbon to open the centre. She passes away 27 days later on August 20, 1994.
NIMC is designated a National Historic Site under the Historic Sites and Monuments Act.
July 31 The Village of New Denver unveils a plaque honouring the Kyowakai Society’s contributions to the village and federal representatives dedicate a plaque marking the centre’s national historic site designation.
January 1 The Village of New Denver formally takes over operating the NIMC, with the Kyowakai Society advising on interpretation, archives and the Heiwa Teien.
August 9 The NIMC celebrates its 20-year anniversary with a major event organized by NIMC manager Momoko Ito with volunteers and village staff.
Heritage BC lists the NIMC, Kohan Garden, the Orchard and other Slocan Valley internment camps as significant Japanese Canadian Historic Places under the provincial government’s Historic Places Recognition Program.
The Kyowakai Society disbands as an official incorporated Society as there are no longer enough members to carry on. Although formally disbanded as a Society, remaining Kyowakai members still provide cultural advice to the Village as needed.