A note to readers: This
is a first draft of the 1942 chapter proposed for the book.
It was completed July, 2008. By the time the book appears in 2010
it may be much altered.
1942 (Sample Chapter)
Expulsion of the Japanese
1942 began on a solemn note when, on January 14, the Canadian
government invoked the War Measures Act. Ottawa announced that all
Japanese—Canadian-born or otherwise—would be removed
from the west coast to government camps. The Pearl Harbor attack
had spooked people all along the Pacific coast of North America,
and there were rumors that collaborators might be lurking within
Japanese-owned fishing boats in Steveston.
On February 26 all British Columbia’s Japanese were ordered
interned, and in March Exhibition Park in Vancouver became an internment
camp. It was closed to the public and turned into a “processing
centre” for more than 8,000 Japanese Canadians. (After they
left Hastings Park would serve as a military facility until 1946
when it would be renamed “Exhibition Park.”)
Soon Japanese- Canadians began to be moved from the west coast
to camps in the interior and points east. The government “took
into custody” 1,337 of their fishboats, as well as houses
and other property. The owners received little or no compensation.
Other businesses, radios, cameras and cars were also confiscated.
Japanese-language newspapers were suppressed and language schools
were closed. Steveston, home to many people of Japanese descent,
was particularly hard hit.
A light in a Stanley Park monument built to honor Japanese-Canadian
soldiers who had fought bravely and with high casualties for Canada
in the First World War was switched off. That monument, surrounded
by cherry trees, was a tribute to 196 Japanese-Canadians who had
volunteered to fight for Canada. At Vimy Ridge, fought over four
days in April, 1917, one of them, Sergeant Masumi Mitsui of Port
Coquitlam, led his troop into battle with such distinction that
he was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery. Of those 196 volunteers,
145 were killed or wounded. Now, 25 years later, Mitsui was so enraged
by the expulsion order he threw his medals down onto the desk of
the confiscating officer. His family was moved from their seven-hectare
Port Coquitlam chicken farm and new house to an internment camp
in Greenwood, northwest of Grand Forks.
The monument’s flame would stay dark for more than 40 years.
(In August 1985, Masumi, then 97, would be the honored guest at
the relighting of the lantern in the park monument. He died April
22, 1987 at 99.)
On June 7 an American merchant vessel, SS Coast
Trader, with a cargo of newsprint, was torpedoed and sunk by
a Japanese submarine (the I-26) 35 miles southwest of Cape Flattery
in Washington State. Fifty-six survivors were picked up by a Washington
fishing vessel and the Canadian corvette HMCS Edmunston.
One man died. Then, on June 20, the same sub surfaced off Estevan
Point on the west coast of Vancouver Island and unsuccessfully lobbed
more than 25 shells at the lighthouse there. These and other raids
by the I-26 and other subs further down the coast were the first
attacks on North American soil since the War of 1812. For propaganda
reasons, reports of enemy submarine action along the West Coast
were usually suppressed and “cause of explosion unknown”
was often given as the reason some of the ships sank. (The I-26
was herself sunk in October, 1944 by a US destroyer escort during
the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines.)
A bizarre view of the Estevan Point attack was
published in 2004 in the history magazine The Beaver by
BC writers Norm and Carol Hall. They suggest the shells fired at
the lighthouse came from an American warship, with the intent to
influence the Canadian Parliament which was, at the time, discussing
the question of conscription. A Department of Defence spokesman
commented that the “latest scholarship” on the incident
produced “not a clue that there might have been American involvement.”
On October 6 the last Japanese-Canadians left Vancouver
for the interior. The well-known 1981 novel Obasan, by
Joy Kogawa, gives an excellent and poignant account of life in the
camps. Ms. Kogawa, born in Vancouver June 6, 1935, was sent at age
7 with her family to Slocan. Another well-known BC writer and teacher,
Roy Miki, a third-generation Japanese-Canadian, was born in Winnipeg
on October 10 this year, six months after his parents had been shipped
from Haney to a Manitoba sugar beet farm.
Another locally prominent Japanese-Canadian, Dr. Masajiro Miyazaki,
who had arrived in Vancouver June 29, 1913, aged about 13, and who
took part in UBC's Great Trek in 1922, was sent to an internment
camp in the Bridge River-Lillooet area. He served as the doctor
for 1,000 internees. In 1945 the town of Lillooet would petition
for his release to replace its deceased doctor. Miyazaki would receive
the Order of Canada in 1977.
To fill the gap left by the departure of the Japanese-Canadian
workforce many people came from the Prairies, which had been slower
to recover from the Depression. Much of Surrey's strawberry crop
was lost with the departure of the Japanese farmers. The fishing
industry—strengthened for white fishermen by the departure
of the Japanese—was declared an essential service, with its
workers exempt from conscription. Even more men were needed, so
a few convicts were released to work on the fish-boats.
A total of about 20,000 Japanese were interned during the war.
The internment administration was conducted by a body named the
B.C. Security Commission, under chairman Austin Taylor. In 1947
Taylor would be awarded the CBE for his wartime service.
More than 65 years later it’s easy to be critical of the
actions of the government concerning the expulsion, but the country
was at war and the majority of the Canadian public was in favor
of the action. The author had a conversation in the 1980s with a
prominent public figure who strongly supported the Japanese expulsion
on the grounds they were an “enemy race,” and many veterans
contrast the internment with the inhuman treatment by Japanese guards
of Allied servicemen during the war. A whiff of the atmosphere is
noticeable today, with some people harboring suspicion toward all
Muslims—including those born in Canada—because of the
murderous actions of radical elements of that faith.
Not one British Columbian Japanese was ever shown
to have acted treacherously during the war. On September 2, 1988
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney formally apologized to Japanese Canadian
survivors and their families.
Turning to other war-related events of 1942: Vancouver's Cecil
Merritt became the first Canadian in the Second World War to win
the Victoria Cross. His citation reads, in part, “For matchless
gallantry and inspiring leadership whilst commanding his battalion
during the Dieppe raid on the 19th August, 1942. From the point
of landing, his unit's advance had to be made across a bridge in
Pourville which was swept by very heavy machine-gun, mortar and
artillery fire: the first parties were mostly destroyed and the
bridge thickly covered by their bodies. A daring lead was required;
waving his helmet, Lieutenant-Colonel Merritt rushed forward shouting,
‘Come on over! There's nothing to worry about here.’”
Here at home, A.E. McRae’s Hycroft mansion in Shaughnessy,
built at a cost of $109,000 in 1909 (a colossal amount for the time),
was sold August 9, 1942 by the McRaes to a grateful federal government
for $1. (The McRaes were faced with rising costs and the war made
hiring of staff difficult for this very big house—in its original
configuration Hycroft had 30 rooms, 11 of them bedrooms, with a
coach house, stables, a swimming pool, an Italian garden and more,
all on 5.2 acres.) Hycroft was put to immediate use to handle the
overflow of patients from Shaughnessy Military Hospital, full to
bursting with convalescent soldiers. It would serve as an auxiliary
to the hospital for 18 years. Then a new wing was added to Shaughnessy
and Hycroft was emptied. It would sit vacant for two years, until
1962 when the University Women’s Club would buy it. They have
occupied it ever since.
The Shaughnessy neighborhood was affected by the war in another
way: wartime housing shortages prompted the federal government to
issue an order in council allowing Shaughnessy homes to be split
up into smaller units. That order in council would not expire until
A faint precursor of a postwar phenomenon appeared September 30
when the first group of women workers was hired by Burrard Dry Dock
in North Vancouver. At the peak of wartime activity 1,000 of the
yard's 13,000 workforce were women. When the war ended those women
would be let go to make room for returning servicemen, but their
taste for good-paying jobs would linger.
On July 28 the Nine O’Clock Gun was silenced to save gunpowder.
In April gasoline was rationed. Then, on August 24, the Wartime
Prices and Trade Board began the issue of ration books covering
purchase of sugar, coffee and tea. Butter, meat, coffee and other
foods would follow. More than eleven million ration books would
be issued across Canada during the war, and there were lineups outside
liquor stores for rationed beer—when it was available. The
federal department of agriculture broadcast shows on how we could
make do with less, and suggested canning our own food. Housewives
were encouraged to make their own butter and restaurants observed
meatless Tuesdays and Fridays.
And on September 13 some Second World War excitement
of a somewhat farcical nature occurred. Writing in The Vancouver
Book (1976), Peter Moogk relates: “It was a hazy Sunday
when a fish-packer sailed in across the ‘examination line’
from Point Atkinson to Point Grey, oblivious to the wartime crisis.
As the boat chugged on towards the First Narrows, the gunners at
the fort received a message to fire a ‘stopping round’
ahead of the boat to compel the master to come to a stop and to
identify himself. It was customary on such occasions to fire a non-explosive,
solid shell that would kick up a large splash in front of the offending
vessel . . . When one of the 12-pounder guns of the fort fired the
‘stopping round,’ the shell hit a wave and started to
ricochet across the water at an oblique angle. Beyond the fish-packer
in English Bay was the Fort Rae, a 9,600-ton freighter
that had been launched the month before and was still on its sea
trials. The skipping round hit the freighter above the waterline.
As the shell passed through the number 3 hold it turned sideways
and punched out a hole below the waterline on the other side. At
first this was not noticed. The ship was evidently on its way back
to the Burrard Drydocks when the captain received word of flooding
in the hold. He beached the freighter on the north shore, just inside
the First Narrows. It remained there, on the tidal flats, until
it could be patched up and floated off . . .”
Peter Moogk is the author of the 1978 book Vancouver
Defended: A History of the Men and Guns of The Lower Mainland Defences,
1859-1949. He writes that at their peak in 1942, “the
Lower Mainland's coastal batteries, from Steveston to Point Atkinson,
were manned by 720 gunners, supported infantry regiments, and auxiliary
units. Anti-aircraft batteries of 40-mm. and 3.7-inch calibre guns
appeared at Point Grey, Little Mountain, Ambleside and elsewhere.”
At the other side of the country, the St. Roch
ended her gallant trans-Arctic voyage in Halifax October 11. It
had taken two years and four months. (In 1944, St. Roch
would return to Vancouver via a more northerly route of the Northwest
Passage and make that run in a relatively meteoric 86 days.)
There was nervous excitement in town on November 6 when one of
the lions in front of the provincial courthouse, the one on the
west side, was damaged by a bomb. The culprit was never caught.
On November 11, Armistice Day, homage was paid
to the men of an earlier war. The 29th (Vancouver) Battalion, “Tobin’s
Tigers,” named for its organizer, Col. H.S. Tobin, gathered
at Hastings Park to pay tribute to former members of the battalion
who had died in the First World War. There is a monument to the
battalion at the park.
The Alaska Highway was officially opened November 20, 1942. There
had been calls for such a highway for years in BC—mostly because
of the potential for increased tourism. In fact, proposals for such
a road had been kicking around since the 1920s. The Canadian government
hadn’t been particularly enthusiastic about the idea, even
though much of the route would pass through Canada, because in their
view it would benefit only a few people in the Yukon.
The attack on Pearl Harbor, and the scattered attacks by Japanese
submarines on the Pacific coast that followed, changed the government’s
mind. The US Army okayed the construction on February 6, 1942 and
the Congress approved it just five days later. Says a web site about
the project: “Canada agreed to allow construction as long
as the United States bore the full cost, and that the road and other
facilities in Canada be turned over to Canadian authority after
the war ended.” (That would happen in 1946.)
Construction started March 8 “after hundreds of pieces of
construction equipment were moved on priority trains by the Northern
Alberta Railways to the northeastern part of British Columbia near
Mile 0 at Dawson Creek.” Crews (made up mostly of men from
the US Army) worked from both the southern and the northern ends
of the highway, their work spurred on by reports of a Japanese invasion
of Kiska and Attu Islands in the Aleutian chain. On September 24,
1942 the two crews met at Mile 588 at Contact Creek and the highway
was dedicated on November 20, 1942 at a place called Soldiers Summit.
That web site informs us the route selected was “intended
to link the airfields of the Northwest Staging Route that conveyed
lend-lease aircraft from the United States to the Soviet Union.”
The speed of the construction (2,704 kilometres
in a little over six months!) meant that the road was pretty crude.
In fact, extra contracts were let to upgrade the highway after its
“completion,” and it wasn’t useable until 1943.
Even more war
An event in December distant from Vancouver that would have a
cataclysmic effect on the future of the war and later on the entire
world attracted no public attention at the time. It was top secret.
A plaque at the University of Chicago tells the story: “On
December 2, 1942, man achieved here the first self-sustaining chain
reaction and thereby initiated the controlled release of nuclear
energy." That was the work of a team headed by physicist Enrico
Here in British Columbia, humbler wartime events
were occurring: Granville Island was declared crucial to the war
effort and closed to the public to protect island industries from
saboteurs; the federal government announced plans for an RCAF storage
depot on the Kitsilano Indian Reserve west of Burrard Bridge; Darshan
Sangha, born in 1917 in the Punjab, India, became the first person
in Vancouver’s Hindustani community to be drafted; a young
fellow named Stuart Keate, a future publisher of the Vancouver
Sun, aged about 28, began service as an information officer
in the North Atlantic and Pacific theatres. He would serve in that
capacity until 1945; Saba's, the largest retail house in Western
Canada specializing in silks, experienced a riot when 500 women
stampeded the store to buy 300 pairs of nylon stockings (no one
The bombing in 1942 of England’s Canterbury
Cathedral had a unique local outcome. Shattered fragments of the
11th century stained glass from the cathedral were given to wartime
parishioner Archdeacon Greig, who would later settle in Vancouver.
The Sanctuary and Chancel Memorial Windows at St. John's Shaughnessy
Anglican Church at Nanton and Granville Streets are made of those
fragments. “They were taped together by matching colors,”
writes Faith Bloomfield, “and the windows, measuring two feet
by seven feet are now installed in the sanctuary above the choir
stalls.” (Faith Bloomfield is a member of the Bloomfield family,
which contributed so much to stained glass work in this city.)
Canadian Pacific Airlines was born May 1 with the
amalgamation of 10 northern bush plane companies by the CPR. Their
first planes were Canadair C4 Argonauts and DC3s. The new company
focused at first on servicing routes within the province from the
airport on Sea Island, would later expand into the far northern
reaches of the other provinces and territories.
On May 20 the Crosline, a vessel launched
in Seattle in 1925 for the Crosby Direct Line Ferries Company, arrived
from Seattle to join Burrard Inlet ferries. She could carry 300
passengers and 65 cars, was purchased because of the need for more
ferries to take shipyard workers to the north shore. In 1947, after
the war, the Crosline would be sold to the ferry system
of the Washington State Department of Highways who would rebuild
The Dollar Mill at Roche Point on Indian Arm closed down this
year. The mill had been established in 1916 by shipping magnate
Robert Dollar and was a major employer for many years.
Straits Towing was formed by Harold Elworthy and Stan McKeen out
of the one-tug Preston-Mann fleet and McKeen's Standard Towing.
The Workmen’s Compensation Board opened the Rehabilitation
Centre in Vancouver to treat injured workers. During the last three
months of this year an average of 262 workers were treated daily
at the Centre. As might be expected, forestry was most represented:
of the 28,746 claims in 1942 where more than three days were lost
from work, 35 per cent were in forestry, well above other occupational
areas. As well, of the 901 claims of permanent disability that year,
no fewer than 431, or 48 per cent of the total, came from forest
The Ovaltine Cafe opened at 251 East Hastings.
The cafe has survived intact with coffee counter, booths, mirrors
and varnished woodwork. It was often seen during scenes on CBC-TV’s
terrific hit series of the early 2000s, DaVinci’s Inquest.
Commercial blueberry farming began in Pitt Meadows.
Baseball's Athletic Park, dedicated in 1913, was renamed Capilano
Stadium—just in time for the Capilanos—named after the
brewery owned by beer magnate Emil Sick of Seattle—to stop
playing because of war-time travel restrictions. Play would resume
Con Jones, an ex-bookie from Australia, a tobacco retailer—he
was known for the slogan “Don't argue: Con Jones sells fresh
tobacco”—and sports entrepreneur, died. In 1908, says
a web site citing him, Jones had “helped form the Pacific
Coast ‘Association Football’ League consisting of teams
from Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Seattle. By 1910
seventeen senior teams were playing on the Lower Mainland . . .
In 1912 he built Con Jones Park, a wooden structure completely surrounding
the field of play, bounded by Renfrew, Oxford, Kaslo and Cambridge
Streets, across from the Pacific National Exhibition grounds, for
his Vancouver field lacrosse team and for soccer. Con Jones Park
was destroyed by a night fire July 29, 1934, but was rebuilt soon
Joe Quoy, jockey, died in New Westminster on January
7, aged about 54. He was born about 1867 in New Westminster, writes
Constance Brissenden, to parents who had come from California following
the gold rush. His father ran a store in New Westminster and owned
several horses. The first races in New Westminster were held on
Columbia Street, then unpaved. Joe was 12 years old and 90 pounds
when he first raced. He rode at tracks in B.C., including Langley
and Nanaimo, and in Seattle, Portland and Walla Walla. After putting
on weight, he turned to sulky riding.
Civic and Provincial Affairs
On January 13 his first speech in the legislature was made by
Conservative W.A.C. Bennett, 41, a successful Kelowna hardware merchant.
On January 10 the Vancouver Fire Department's ‘inhalator’
crew, the Rescue and Safety Branch, was put in service. Over the
years, these men would save the lives of many, many people.
On March 3 the City of Vancouver began the acquisition of land
from Stanley Park to Burrard Street.
Gordon House opened in the West End, one of the city’s oldest
neighborhood houses. (Alexandra House preceded it by four years.)
Burnaby finally came out of its Depression-mandated
receivership: from 1933, Burnaby had been administered by the provincial
government through a Commissioner. Now residents once again could
elect a reeve and council.
John Murray Jr., known as “Mr. Port Moody”,
and who named the streets of the municipality, died, aged about
83. His father John Sr. was Port Moody’s first settler.
Emily Carr donated 145 paintings and sketches to
the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Earle Birney won his first Governor General Award
for his poetry collection David and other poems. The title
poem “featured the rugged geography of Canada's west.”
The well-known United Church minister, Scotland-born
Andrew Roddan, was also a gifted amateur painter and charter member
of the Vancouver Art Gallery. He gave assistance to local artists
and, this year, exhibited his own paintings.
Alexander Maitland Stephen, writer and poet, died
in Vancouver July 1, aged about 60. He was born in 1882 in Hanover,
Ontario. In his early years, Stephen tried ranching and mining,
as well as rural teaching. He was wounded in the First World War.
Back in Vancouver, he opened an engineering company. He was a well-known
progressive social activist, a nationally known critic and the author
of two novels, plays, romances and poetry. His 1934 poem Vancouver
was widely anthologized; a portion of it was reproduced on the inside
covers of 1997's The Greater Vancouver Book:
Who can snare the soul of a city
in a butterfly net of words?
Who can melt steel and concrete
into the flowing matrix of song?
Yet there is a word-symbol,
if it can be found,
There is a sign and a password
in the plastic stuff of mind,
an image behind the veil,
that can reveal the meaning of a city.
Nineveh, Babylon, Rome --
the sound of them is an echo in an empty room,
stirring the dust of dead men’s bones.
the sound of it is a wave,
breaking on the shores of the future.
Tune in . . .
At Essondale Mental Hospital 34 patients died this year from tuberculosis.
This was also the year electro-convulsive shock therapy (ECT) was
introduced at Essondale.
The Shriners’ Gizeh Temple was moved from
Victoria to Vancouver.
Vancouver’s first Kinette Club, a women’s
counterpart to the Kinsmen Club, was established.
Pax Regis first appeared. It’s a
semi-annual publication featuring articles and news for alumni of
the Seminary of Christ the King, owned and operated by the Benedictine
Monks, and for those interested in Roman Catholic seminary education.
(It issues today from Westminster Abbey in Mission.)
On May 20 William Marr Crawford, master mariner,
died in Vancouver, aged about 59. He was born in 1883 in Limekilns,
Fife, Scotland, came to Canada in 1911. He joined Empire Stevedoring,
B.C.'s largest waterfront employer, as manager. In 1923 he was named
president and managing director. In 1930 Crawford launched the Fyfer,
“the finest private yacht on the Pacific,” and in 1941
donated her to the Canadian Navy for war use. In the First World
War, Captain Crawford had served without pay as marine master to
the ministry of shipping, and served in the same role in a civilian
capacity in the Second World War.
1957 - Sample
Being processed prior to internment.
Vancouver Public Library VPL 1344
Lt.-Col. Cecil Merritt
Alaska Highway starting point
[Photo: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis]
Canadian Pacific Airlines DC 3