Victor Wong is a WWII veteran from Victoria, BC. He was one of thousands of Chinese immigrants enlisted by the Canadian forces during the war and assigned to the British forces. The British territories in Asia had been occupied by Japan, and English speakers of Chinese origin were sent there to engage in guerrilla warfare and take back the territories. At that time, Chinese immigrants were not allowed Canadian citizenship.  Victor recalls:
 
“‘Why should you go when you’re not even a Canadian?’ So we all decided in our town hall meetings that the best way to do is to go and sign up and go and come back and lobby for the franchise. This is exactly what we did.”

By fighting in WWII, Chinese immigrants won not only freedom for Europe and Asia, but also won Canadian citizenship for their community. You can read and hear more of his story at http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/480:victor-eric-wong/

The picture of Victor and his army discharge certificate have been digitized in partnership with the Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society (http://www.ccmms.ca/) and are part of a project “Chinese Canadian Stories: Uncommon Histories from a Common Past” (http://chinesecanadian.ubc.ca/).

Photograph of Victor WongCanadian Army Discharge Certificate of Victor Wong

 

 

 

 

The Japanese Canadian Photograph Collection (JCPC) chronicles the experiences of Japanese Canadians / Nikkei in British Columbia including their internment during World War II. These photographs from the JCPC are a testament to the popularity of baseball at internment camps.  (Left: at Lucerne, B.C. in the Yellow Pass, Bottom: at an unidentified camp) Baseball was a cornerstone of social life in internment camps, and at the forefront were former players of the Vancouver Asahi, a Nikkei baseball team based at Oppenheimer Park. Before disbanding after the 1941 season, the Vancouver Asahi competed against Nikkei and Euro-Canadian teams and won multiple championships. When playing at camps, they helped ease the pain of internment, and their sportsmanship brought about mutual respect between the Nikkei and Euro-Canadians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Gokaiko Yokohama no zenzu (1859)

In 1858, Japan signed the Ansei Five-Power Treaties with the United States, Great Britain, Russia, Netherlands, and France. The following year in 1859, the port of Yokohama opened to foreign trade as specified in these treaties. 御開港横濵之全圖 Gokaikō Yokohama no zenzu marks the opening of the port and depicts ships from the five nations anchored in the bay. In this map, we are looking at the port of Yokohama from North West. North is not always at the top of Japanese maps.

There is a close tie between the Port of Yokohama and the Port of Vancouver. A Japanese ocean liner Hikawa Maru travelled between these two ports from 1930 to 1954, transporting Japanese immigrants to Canada. (Hikawa Maru is permanently berthed at the Port of Yokohama as a floating museum.) Yokohama and Vancouver are sister cities since 1965.  The scene of this map reminds me of the English Bay, with oil tankers in place of the sailing ships!

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