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by Ann-Lee & Gordon Switzer
introduction by Midge Michiko Ayakawa
April 2012

Canada's first Japanese community grew up in Victoria, the first Pacific port of call for Canada before Vancouver was even the name of a place. Here for the first time, the history of Victoria’s Japanese community is recounted, beginning in the mid-1880s. In the early days, Victoria, British Columbia was the “Gateway to Promise” for Japanese immigrants.

Victoria's First Japanese Baseball Team The book begins with: "History," relating the earliest traces of Japanese presence on the coast, then goes on to the first recorded visits to Victoria, and then settlement—in the first seven chapters. The history is related in context, with the big picture of what was happening in the world, Japan and the rest of Canada as a background. Different viewpoints are considered: how the Japanese viewed the "West" as well as how Japanese were perceived by Western society. The numbers of Japanese immigrants increased beginning at the turn of the century, until a small but vibrant community of around 300 lived in Victoria and vicinity. Gradually its population was eclipsed by the Japanese community across the water in Vancouver. Both communities differed substantially, and differences between the two are examined. Tragically, the entire Japanese Canadian population of both cities was exiled to the interior of the country in 1942 after Japan entered the Second World War.

In the book's mid-section, "Japanese influence in Victoria," ten specific topics unfold in more detail: the Japanese Church, farms, sports, gardens and more. Unlike Vancouver, where the Japanese people settled around the Powell Street area, Victoria's Japanese lived scattered throughout the city.

Japanese Girls Dance ClassThe last section "Family Stories," consists of short memoirs of some of the survivors: their youthful days in Victoria and their families. Through interviews and correspondence, the authors pieced together a first-hand account of how life was for the nisei of Victoria—now elderly residents of Ontario, Alberta, and mainland, B.C.

Gateway to Promise can be picked up at any point. Do you enjoy stories about people? Read the third section. Detailed history? Choose from Section One or Two. All are part of the surprising history of a lost community.

Over 200 historic photos appear throughout the book.

Publisher Ti-Jean Press
includes bibliography
ISBN 978-1-896627-21-2
396 pages, paperbound