Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Japanese Canadian Relocation WWII

This post deals with the forced movement of more than 21,000 Japanese Canadians during World War II showing covers related to the relocation.

Tashme Internment Camp, April 30, 1943

In 1942,  shortly after Canada's declaration of war against Japan, Japanese-Canadians living 100 miles inland from the West Coast were removed by government order. The order affected more than 21,000 Japanese Canadians. “Military necessity” was used as a justification for their mass removal and incarceration despite the fact that senior members of Canada’s military and the RCMP had opposed the action, arguing that Japanese Canadians posed no threat to security.

A. Internment Projects Outside the Protected Area

1. Road Camp Projects

 Between March and June, 1942, 2000 men were separated from their families and sent to road camps road. By October 1942 many were allowed to join families in the interior internment camps

2. Internment Camps

Most of the Japanese Canadians, 12,000, were sent to internment camps located in the isolated British Columbia interior.  Sites included Greenwood, Sandon, Slocan, New Denver, Tashme, Kaslo.

3. Self-Supporting Projects

About 1000 internees chose to go to less restrictive “self supporting projects”. They were required to to pay for their transportation, housing materials and living expenses but the families were able to stay together. 
4. Prisoner of War Camps

About 700 men were interned in Prisoner of War camps located at Petawawa and Angler, Ontario.

B. Sugar Beet Farms

Beet growers in Alberta and Manitoba made arrangements with the B.C. government to obtain Japanese workers to solve their labour shortage.  About 4000 internees opted for the farms but found living conditions were poor, medical facilities were inadequate and the pay minimal. The Japanese were not allowed to leave the farm to find other employment.

End of War

As the war was coming to an end, the federal government decided to remove all Japanese Canadians from British Columbia who were forced to chose between deportation to Japan after the war or moving east of the Rockies immediately. The deportations stopped due to public protest but 4,000 Japanese had left Canada after the war. On April 1, 1949, the last of the wartime restrictions were lifted allowing Japanese Canadians to travel freely and return to the West Coast.

In September 1988, the Government of Canada formally apologized in the House of Commons and offered compensation for wrongful incarceration, seizure of property and the disenfranchisement of Japanese Canadians during WW II.

Japanese Relocation Covers

Minto Mine to Kaslo

The cover below was sent from the "Self-supporting" project of Minto Mine to the Internment Camp at Kaslo, November 17, 1944. The letter was censored and received at Kaslo on December 2, 1944.

Minto Mine

Minto City (also called Minto Mine) was established in 1934 as a townsite for miners at the nearby Minto Gold mine. The mine closed in 1942 but Minto City became a "self-supporting" project.

Minto Mine, November 17, 1944

Approximately 1100 Japanesse Canadians were relocated to the internment camp at  Kaslo.

Kaslo, December 2, 1944

 Tashme Internment Camp

The Tashme internment camp was located 14 miles from Hope, B.C. The camp housed 2, 300 Japanese Canadians from 1942 to 1945. The camp's name was derived from the first two initials of B.C. Security Commission members TAylor, SHine, and MEad.

Tashme Internment Camp to Toronto , April 30, 1943

 Internal Japanese Canadian mail was censored

Southern Alberta, Sugar Beet Farms

The cover below was mailed by a Japanese correspondent from the southwestern Alberta sugar beet farming area of Barnwell, Alberta to the internment camp at Kaslo, November 24, 1943.

Received at Kaslo, December 1, 1943

Straightline censor handstamp