Japanese Canadian History and Archives Committee
of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal Collection

1941 - 2006. – 14.19 m. of textual records and other materials.

Administrative History:

The Japanese Canadian History and Archives Committee (JCHAC) is part of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal (JCCCM), a non-profit and non-denominational organization, which was incorporated on November 26, 1975 with a starting business date of May 1, 1976. Kim Nakashima was the organization’s first president. In 1979 the JCCCM began running drop-in programmes for senior citizens; however, it was not until 1982 that the Japanese Canadian History and Archives Committee began actively preserving the history of the community in both Montreal and Canada.

The mandate of this non-profit organization is not only to maintain a community centre in Montreal, but also to initiate, develop and promote social, cultural, educational and charitable activities for community members. Its administrative structure consists of a President, Vice President, treasurer, Board of Directors, various committees, including the History and Archives, as well as a council of representatives of different groups active in the community. The centre has received government grants for employment creation which have helped to finance its projects and activities. Although the chief Japanese Canadian organization in Montreal, the JCCCM had ties with the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) through the Quebec Chapter. In fact, many members of the JCCCM have been active in both organizations, including Rei Nakashima, who has served as the president of the NAJC; as such, the JCHAC archives has a substantial collection of records recording NAJC activities, both at provincial and national levels.

The archives also contains local and national records from the National Japanese Canadian Centennial Society (JCCS), under the leadership of Roger Obata, chairperson, and Toyo Takata, executive director, which was established in order to coordinate centennial celebration activities across Canada to commemorate the 100th anniversary (1977) of the arrival of the first Japanese individual, Manzo Nagano, in Canada. Additionally, many members of the JCCCM work on the community’s newsletter, The Montreal Bulletin, of which the archives has a complete set of originals.

The History and Archives Committee falls under the aegis of the JCCCM and is arranged horizontally by function. It could best be characterized as having a fluid reporting structure. The committee is composed of the following individuals: Rei Nakashima, facilitator; Jackie Stevens, coordinator and photos/ slides; Alice Kudo, librarian and organizer; Amy Miyamoto, Bulletin files; Kuniko Kondo, Bulletin files and Japanese translator; Betty Issenman, early years in Montreal; Kathy Horibe, photos and slides; and Donnie Shimotakahara, photos.

Since the inception of the JCCCM, several activities and projects initiated by the History and Archives Committee have aimed at preserving Japanese Canadian history. Starting in 1982, older members of the community were interviewed by students (under the supervision of anthropologist, Keibo Oiwa) funded by the federal government’s Summer Employment Programme (Article 38) and biographical information was compiled. Additionally, three or four exhibitions at a college and at a shopping centre have been carried out; however, since Redress in 1988 there have been no further large scale exhibitions. Guest speakers have, on occasion, delivered presentations at local schools to promote awareness of the community in Montreal.

The History and Archives Committee has also produced two publications on the history of Japanese Canadians in Canada, Repartir ŕ Zéro, published in 1987 to accompany the photo exhibit of the same name, focusing specifically on the history of Japanese Canadians in Montreal; and Ganbari: Reclaiming our Home, published in 1998 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Redress, and serving as an update for information on the Japanese Canadian Community in Montreal.

The major objectives of the files are to: 1. document the internment and the move to Montreal; 2. provide a record of the activities which culminated in the Centennial Celebrations (1977) and in Redress (1988); 3. maintain a record of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal’s outreach, community involvement, and cultural contributions; 4. and to collect documents, including oral histories and memorabilia of Japanese Canadians.

Scope and Content Note:

The collection documents the experiences of Japanese Canadians in Montreal and in Canada, as well as Japanese Canadian cultural and social contributions, over an approximately 60 year period, mainly 1940-2000.

The collection consists of 50 boxes of records including personal information related to individuals and/or families, and correspondence, photographs, and a variety of printed materials. The collection also contains detailed biographical records, compiled during the 1980s, related to the Issei, Nisei, and Sansei as well as other non-Japanese individuals active in the community. In addition, there are approximately 150 tape recordings, transcripts, and oral histories; art work and cultural contributions done by members of the Japanese community; directories, newspapers, publications, pamphlets, and records; administrative records of the NAJC chapter in Montreal; as well as local and national NAJC and JCCS records. Many of the files are arranged alphabetically or by subject, including people’s names, organization names, and geographical names. Records consist of either information about the JCCCM organization and related individuals or records held by the JCCCM or created by it.

The series consist of 1) publications; 2) biographical files; 3) general subject files; 4) Japanese Canadian Centennial Society (JCCS) files; 5) NAJC/ Redress files; 6) Exhibit materials; and 7) A-V, Maps, and Special Media. Many of the files are arranged alphabetically or by subject.

Custodial History:

The collection was transferred by Rei Nakashima, on October 2, 2005. These records, created by the History and Archives committee of the JCCCM, had been stored in Rei Nakashima’s house prior to their transfer to the McGill University Archives.


Mainly English, with some Japanese and French.


Based on the contents of the collection.

Finding Aid:

Series level description and box lists available.


In order to cite or quote from material or use a photograph, permission must be obtained from the McGill University Archives.