Following their forced internment in the work camps and ghost towns of British Columbia and the sugar-beet farms of Alberta during WWII, Japanese Canadians began arriving in Montréal between 1942 and 1945. Overall, the new arrivals in Montréal were treated more favourably than they had been in the Western provinces, particularly British Columbia; however, they still experienced discrimination, which caused them to establish social, political, and religious groups.

In 1976 the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montréal (JCCCM) was founded. This non-denominational and non-profit organization is located at 8155 Rousselot Street, next to the Japanese Catholic Mission. The building was purchased by the JCCCM from grant money which was part of the 1988 Redress Agreement between the federal government and the National Japanese Association (NAJC). The centre functions as the location for such community activities as bazaars, picnics, and Seniors Drop-ins, which occur weekly.

The Japanese Canadian History and Archives Committee of the JCCCM has initiated several projects aimed at preserving Japanese Canadian history. Beginning in 1982, biographical information was compiled on older members of the community, who were interviewed by students funded by the federal government’s Summer Employment Programme. In addition to these records, this committee has carefully documented the activities of Japanese Canadians, particularly in Montréal, by preserving records in diverse formats that relate to either the treatment of Japanese Canadians or to their significant social, cultural, and political contributions. These archives were donated to the McGill University Archives in October 2005 and are open to the public.

Time Line

The First Generation - The Issei (1877-1940)

  • 1877: Manzo Nagano, first Japanese immigrant, settles in Canada.
  • 1895: Franchise denied by British Columbia Government to citizens of Asian origin.
  • 1907: Asiatic Exclusion League instigates Anti-Asian Riots in Vancouver.
  • 1908: Japan agrees to restrict the number of passports issued to male labourers and domestic servants to an annual maximum of 400.
  • 1916-1917: 200 Japanese Canadians volunteer for service with Canadian army.
  • 1920: Japanese Labour Union formed.
  • 1923: Gentlemen's agreement: Number of Japanese male immigrants limited to 150 annually also amended to include wives and children in the annual quota of 150.
  • 1925: Department of Fisheries stripped 1,000 fishing licenses from Japanese Canadians.
  • 1936: Unsuccessful attempt by a delegation from Japanese Canadian Citizens League to obtain the franchise.

The War Years: 1941-1949

  • 1941: Despite citizenship, Japanese Canadians are excluded from military service.
  • 1941: Japanese Canadians required to carry registration cards that have their photo and thumbprint.
  • 1941: The day after Pearl Harbour (December 7) 1,200 Japanese Canadian fishing boats in British Columbia are impounded. Japanese schools and newspapers are also closed.
  • 1942: Removal of Japanese immigrant males from coastal areas, mass evacuation of Japanese Canadians begins.
  • 1942: Japanese Canadians ordered to turn over property and possessions to Custodian of Enemy Alien Property as a "protective measure only".
  • 1942: British Columbia Security Commission begins forcing men to road camps and women and children to "ghost town" detention camps.
  • 1942: First Japanese Canadians arrive at detention camp in Greenwood, British Columbia, followed by arrivals at camps in Slocan, Kaslo, Sandon, New Denver, and Tashme, British Columbia.
  • 1942-1945: Japanese Canadians begin moving to Montreal. By 1943, over 200 Japanese Canadians reside in Montreal.
  • 1943: Federal Government gives Custodian of Enemy Alien Property the right to dispose of Japanese Canadians' property.
  • 1945: 150 Japanese Canadians volunteer to serve with Canadian army in Far East.
  • 1945: Campaign of intimidation towards Japanese Canadians living in British Columbia to move to Eastern Canada or be deported to Japan.
  • 1945: Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis threatens to stop accepting Japanese Canadians from British Columbia.
  • 1946: After WWII ends "Repatriation" begins and almost 4, 000 Japanese Canadians move to Japan, many of whom are Canadian citizens.
  • 1947: Federal Government repeals order-in-council on deportation of Japanese Canadians following protests by academics, religious groups, journalists and politicians.
  • 1948: Japanese Canadians given right to vote (June 15).

Redress and Rebuilding: The Nissei and the Sansei (1950-present)

  • 1967: Canadian government removes race as a category for immigration as a point system for selection is introduced.
  • 1975: Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal is incorporated.
  • 1982: The History and Archives Committee of the JCCCM begins interviewing local Japanese people in order to preserve their experiences – Japanese Canadians in Quebec Oral History Project.
  • 1987: History and Archives Committee’s computer equipped office established.
  • 1987: Organized Photo Exhibition, “Repartir à Zéro – Starting Over,” in Montreal; published bilingual booklet on the history of Japanese Canadians in Quebec.
  • 1988: A Redress Settlement, which included individual compensation for all survivors, is announced by the Canadian federal government (September 22).
  • 1988 - 1990: Published articles based on interviews in Japanese Canadian newspapers: Montreal Bulletin, Canada Times, Nikkei Voice.
  • 1992: Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation grants the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal money for a new community centre.
  • 1998: History and Archives Committee published the publication “Ganbari: Reclaiming Our Home” to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Redress, and serving as an update for information on the Japanese Canadian Community in Montreal.
  • 2005: The History and Archives Committee of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal donates their archives to McGill University.

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