Our History

Manzo Nagano is the first known Japanese man to settle in Canada, but there are reports of shipwrecked Japanese sailors as early as 1834.

Yo Oya is the first known Japanese woman to settle in Canada. She gives birth to Katsuji Oya, the first Nisei born in 1889.

The government of British Columbia denies Japanese Canadians the right to vote even if they were born in Canada.

The Japanese Fishermen’s Association is organized in Steveston, B.C. The first president is Tomekichi Homma.

Nearly 5,000 Japanese Canadians living in Canada.

The first Japanese language school is established at 439 Alexander. The Vancouver Kyoritsu Nippon Kokumin Gakko is now known as the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall).

Japanese Canadian students are allowed to attend public school with Caucasian students at Lord Strathcona School in Vancouver.

Over 18,000 Japanese Canadians living in Canada.

A large mob gathered at then city hall at Main and Hastings make their way through Chinatown breaking windows and into stores. They make their way to Powell Street where Japanese Canadians had been warned and they fight back. The damage is extensive.

The governments of Japan and Canada agree to a restriction of 400 male immigrants per year.

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team is formed.

Over 200 Japanese Canadians volunteer to enlist in the Canadian army to fight in World War I. They are rejected and 196 travel to Alberta to join the British army.

The Japanese Canadian War Memorial cenotaph is officially unveiled in Stanley Park.

In B.C., the first Japanese Canadian teacher, Hide Hyodo, is hired at Lord Byng annex in Steveston, but is only allowed to teach Japanese Canadian students. It’s the only school to hire a Japanese Canadian teacher.

The Asahi baseball team wins the Terminal League Championship, the first of many.

Japan and Canada establish diplomatic relations and Japan opens a legation in Ottawa.

Canada opens its first diplomatic office in Tokyo.

Japanese Canadian World War I veterans finally receive the right to vote. No other Japanese Canadians are allowed to vote.

The Japanese Canadian Citizens League send a delegation to plead the case for the right to vote, but are denied.

The New Canadian newspaper starts. It’s the first English-language Japanese newspaper and has the motto, “The Voice of the Second Generation”.

Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. Six months before Pearl Harbour was attacked, Japanese Canadians over the age of 18 are finger printed, registered with the RCMP, and forced to carry an identification card until four years after the war ends.

The War Measures Act is invoked, stripping Japanese Canadians of their rights with no recourse.

The forced removal of over 22,000 Japanese Canadian men, women and children from the west coast of BC takes place. Veterans are also imprisoned. Families are separated. Over 8,000 are shipped to Hastings Park in Vancouver before being moved to camps. Some men were sent to road camps or prisoner-of-war camps in Ontario. Some families were sent to work on sugar beet farms in Alberta and Manitoba. Others are sent to ghost towns in the interior of BC where they live in tents, shacks, and abandoned buildings.

The government sells the confiscated properties without the owners’ consent. Families were only allowed a few suitcases. Everything else was taken from them: land, buildings, homes, farms, businesses, vehicles, fishing boats, and all their personal possessions.

Japanese Canadians who previously tried to enlist but were refused are now accepted “on loan” to the British army.

The war ends, but Japanese Canadians are not allowed to return to the west coast.

Over 60% of the Canadians of Japanese ethnicity were born in Canada.

Some Japanese Canadians, even those born in Canada, are “repatriated” to Japan.

The National Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association is formed.

Four years after the war ends, Japanese Canadians are allowed to return to the west coast on April 1. They are allowed the right to vote in BC. They are allowed to vote federally in June 1948.

The Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association of Greater Vancouver (JCCA) is formed.

The Vancouver Japanese Language School is the only building to be returned to the community after the war. It re-opens.

The first issue of The Bulletin is published by the JCCA (Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association of Greater Vancouver). The bilingual publication serves the Japanese Canadians who have returned to the coast.

Tonari Gumi – Japanese Community Volunteers Association – is founded .

The Japanese Canadian community celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first known Japanese immigrant to Canada.

The first Powell Street Festival takes place in the Powell Street District in Oppenheimer Park, the heart of the former Japanese Canadian community in Vancouver.

The National Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association changes its name to the National Association of Japanese Canadians. “A movement for redress becomes a community project.”

In April, Japanese Canadians rally in support of redress on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

In July, the War Measures Act is repealed.

In September, the Redress Agreement is signed by the president of the NAJC and the prime minister.

One provision of the Redress Agreement is to establish the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

The new Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall opens at 475 Alexander Street. The old school is designated a historic site by the City of Vancouver.

The National Nikkei Heritage Centre and Japanese Canadian National Museum opens in Burnaby.

Approximately 40,000 Japanese Canadians living in the Greater Vancouver area. About half are pre-war immigrants and descendents and half are post war immigrants.

The Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association of Greater Vancouver changes its name to Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association.