Japanese Collection

Japanese Canadian Collection (selected artifacts)


While working on the back-hoe on his Whonnock farm, Ken Schmok discovered a container packed with dishes. He found that his farm was once home to the Shigemi family, who were forced to abandon their land in 1942 with the internment of Japanese Canadians during WWII.

Through there were no Shigemi family members left in British Columbia, the Maple Ridge Museum managed to track down the Shigemi’s in Tabor, Alberta. We were delighted to discover that one of the men who had buried the dishes – Takaaki Shigemi – was still alive at 92. The family was able to bring Takaaki to visit the museum and take photographs at their old home. Though they took most of their dishes back with them; they generously donated some pieces to the museum, one of which is this brightly coloured bowl with steep sides, red and orange flowers with green leaves on a pale yellow glaze. Takaaki remembered all of the dishes, particularly a fragile Sake set that had only been used on special occasions.

Japanese Temple Boards

These boards are an original fixture from Maple Ridge’s first Buddhist temple, which was erected on the north side of Dewdney Trunk Road just west of 216th Street (then Townline Road) in 1933.

Board One gives the date of the temple’s completion, November 8th, and identifies master carpenters Koga Shiro, his assistants Ariza Enji and Takashima Testujiro; site supervisor Oike Kyusuke and congregation president Fujita Yanosuke and vice-president Ishikawa Jusuke. Following Japanese convention, their surnames are reported before their given names.
Board Two repeats a religious message: “We are embraced with the Boundless Light of the Amide Buddha, which goes forth universally to illuminate the numerous worlds to protect us and dispel the darkness of Ignorance.”
The boards were written in archaic Japanese script that has fallen out of regular use. They have been translated for the museum by Kajiura Hiroshi, Nagai Yasuo and Douglas Oike.

English Language Teaching Charts

Used by Colin McDougall, principal of Alexander Robertson School, these two teaching charts helped Japanese Canadian students learn English. Often, their English speaking skills developed quickly as they played with their non-Japanese classmates, but their written skills came slower. These charts helped Japanese Canadian student’s link images to words.
The charts were also used by the donor’s daughter Helen Legge when she taught at the school from 1936-42.