NVC Newsletter

Letters to Editor

March 2015, Volume 65, Issue 3

To the Editor:

I commend John Hartman for his thoughtful account of the Japanese-Canadian incarceration centers in the February 2015 NVC Newsletter.  It may have been a revelation for many who are all-too-familiar with their own first-hand evacuation experience in the United States but who may know little about what happened to their counterparts north of the 49th parallel during World War II.

Mr. Hartman's synopses describe well the unprepossessing places to which the JCs were sent.  Permit me to add one more, a concentration center that held more than 2,600 JCs in a remote center named Tashme, 14 miles beyond Hope (a city in B.C., that is).  Today, it's a ski resort called Sunshine Valley with virtually no reminder of the old camp or historical marker.  Mr. Hartman and his fellow travellers may have passed the site on their way back to Seattle without realizing it.

Tashme was neither an aboriginal nor Japanese label, but named, perhaps self-consciously, for the three members of the British Columbia Security Commission, created by the federal government to oversee all of the so-called "interior detention centres", including the ones Mr. Hartman refers to: Ausin Taylor, a Vancouver industrialist; John Shirras, assistant commissioner of the provincial police; and F.J. Mead, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 

The principle of citizenship was still emerging at the time in the Dominion, essentially a colony of the United Kingdom, but as in the United States, most (of those) detained in Canada were second-generation Japanese.  Most were, if a parallel to American citizenship were to be made, British subjects and not Japanese nationals.

As a parting note, Mr. Hartman imagines how life might have been for him had he been incarcerated because of his German national background.  At the Crystal City, TX, Alien Enemy Detention Center where our family was interned, there were Germans and Italians as well.  I remember having several German classmates, one in particular I'd befriended named Wolfgang.  However, I can't attest to the provenance of all the German nationals incarcerated with us.  

Thanks to Mr. Hartman for an insightful article about the Canadian-Japanese internment.  

Sincerely,

Akira Ichikawa
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada