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The Japanese The first Japanese nationals to arrive in Coquitlam came towards the end of the nineteenth century. They were usually fishers, farmers or manual labourers. By 1913, there were fifty-seven Japanese men employed at the Canadian Western Lumber Company. At first it was just single men at the mill but later many of them were united with their wives and families. The isseis’ (first generation) contact with white society was primarily economic – they did not mingle easily with others.1 Henry Locken remembers the Seki, the Onishi and the Owikawa families. Masumi “Sock” Seki was born in Fraser Mills and worked there, as did his father.2 Eventually, about 600 or one-third of the total employees were Japanese. There were one or two Japanese families that had strawberry farms up in the Blue Mountain area. Elsie Van Leeuwen remembers Lily Matsushita, whose family grew strawberries on a 12 acre farm running east from North Road between Como Lake Avenue and Smith Avenue.3

At Lemon Creek

In 1931, there was a strike in Maillardville. The Japanese and other “ethnic” workers demanded equal rights, better housing and an end to discrimination. They had organized a union, the Lumber and Agricultural Worker’s Union, to promote their causes because they were excluded from many other unions. In 1936, a delegation was sent to Ottawa asking

The Immigrants : Japanese, South Asian, Chinese and one family’s story

The Immigrants

55

Hoc historybook030311 blk  
Hoc historybook030311 blk  
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