Day 1: Tashme
Updated: Jul 18, 2019
By November 1942, the population in the camp of Tashme was 2,636. Despite it being the largest camp in the interior, it was the last camp to be built. This isolated camp, completely surrounded my mountains in the Sunshine Valley, was named after commissioners of the BCSC - TAylor, SHirras, and MEad. The camp, which consisted of 347 tar shacks, had a soy sauce factory, a butcher’s shop, a laundry, shoe repair, a post office, a powerhouse, and more. Since the British Columbia Security Commission was not obligated to provide high school education, Reverend McWilliams advocated to the Ministry of Education to allow the United Church to teach a high school curriculum. In 1945, Tashme was also the last sight for Japanese Canadians, who were being uprooted for the second time, to be sent to Vancouver to board boats to Japan in 1946.
"Tashme—a former internment site—was hot, dry, and surrounded by tall mountains. Being from the coast, the towering geography immediately struck me as isolating. For interned Japanese Canadians forced from the 100-kilometre restricted area around the BC coast, with winter around the corner and no way to leave, the oppressive atmosphere must have been tenfold. Yet, the museum highlighted perseverance more than fear. Japanese Canadians were forced to abandon their entire social and material lives. Freedom was absent in Tashme. But, as these koinobori (carp banners) celebrating Japanese Children’s Day attest, internees still maintained community on this inhospitable ground." -Makayla S.
"Attempts to replicate historic places and represent the past in an authentic way takes on many forms. At TASHME two spaces work to demonstrate the living situation of Japanese Canadian internees to visitors. The first room is found within the TASHME museum in which an exhibit shows us what the living quarters of interned family may have looked like. A bamboo steamer, tea set, and fresh plastic apples sit on the table while a young boy’s scout uniform hangs in the backroom. Recorded crackling noises emanate from the stove to complete the sensation of being in the past." -James M.
Sunahara, Ann Gomer. The Politics of Racism: The Uprooting of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Toronto, 1981.
Kawamoto, Linda Reid and Beth Carter. Karizumai: A Guide to Japanese Canadian Internment Sites. Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, 2016.
Adachi, Ken. The Enemy that Never Was. Toronto, 1976.