File consists of video interviews with Masue Tagashira. Subjects include: Village life in 1920s Japan; immigration experience; logging camp at Stave Lake; domestic work; language challenges for immigrant women; exploitation of women’s labour; Vancouver’s “Japantown”.
Masue (1908-1992) was one of nine children born to a farming family in the village of Mitsuse Kanazaki, Saga-Ken, Japan. Masue married her first husband, Shigeo, there in 1927, following him to Stave Falls, B.C., where he had been working as a logger and shingle maker. They had two children: Donald (Masayuki) born in the camp, and daughter, Aiko, born Vancouver. They had moved to the city in 1930 after Shigeo suffered serious work injury resulting in the loss of an eye . Unable to support his family and deeply depressed, Shigeo was admitted to Essondale Hospital where he committed suicide in 1931. Masue, without much English and only rudimentary skills, placed her children in a Victoria church-run orphanage. She struggled in subsistence jobs and married twice more: the first short-lived, and then finally, in 1938, to Rinkichi Tagashira (1887-1973) owner of Heatley Trading Co. Ltd. Masue’ children came to live with them near Rinkichi’s warehouse in “Japantown”, Vancouver’s east side immigrant neighbourhood. In 1942, the Tagashiras, like 20,000 other Japanese Canadians in B.C., had their assets seized and were interned in the province interior: Rinkichi to Tashme and Masue, Donald and Aiko to Slocan. They eventually returned to their old neighbourhood in 1949 where they operated a rooming house. Masue was an active member of the JCCA Redress Committee.