In 1942, after the Japanese were interned in the interior of BC, the Chan couple moved into House #12, because the Japanese family that had lived there were forced to move out. Most of the furniture in the house had belonged to that Japanese family. The company rented them the house, which included lots of wood to burn, free electricity and light bulbs. Julie remembers the rent going from $3.00 to $5.00 per month in the early fifties – and that was a huge increase. Self-sufficiency was the goal for each family. To supplement the family income, the Chans grew garlic to sell. They had space to have chickens and ducks and they also grew their own vegetables. Julie started school at Millside Elementary and spoke no English. Although she cried the first week of school, she had little choice but to
continue. Julie and her sister usually received a ride to school in their uncle’s truck, but they walked from Millside school to their home in Fraser Mills – a 45 minute walk – every day.
the very friendly neighbours. She and her sister were included in the May Day celebrations and Julie was encouraged by many of her teachers.
Julie remembers that the children at school were all treated equally – there was no discrimination there. But different ethnic groups kept to themselves outside of school. The adults did not mix easily and were not as open or outgoing – they were comfortable with their own cultural group. There were things that you talked about, and much more that you didn’t talk about. People were more private back then. Very few spoke English. And they worked hard – they were self-sufficient and resourceful, in the hope of achieving an easier or better life.
Eventually she went to Winslow Junior School and Como Lake High School. She had a job as a grocery clerk and cashier at the Royal City Market in New Westminster, which paid $1.00 / hour. She then applied for and got a job at the mill, working in the plywood plant for $2.08 / hour – this was a very good wage as she was earning money to go to university. Julie became a teacher and school librarian, working for the Coquitlam School District until 2001, when she retired.
The Chans moved to “Frenchtown” in 1956 – that’s what everyone called Maillardville.
Julie states “Life endows us with varying amounts of intelligence, beauty or finances. The importance of survival is how we maximize the potential of each of those limited resources.”
They were the only Chinese family around and she felt a little like a “novelty” among
“Life endows us with varying amounts of intelligence, beauty or finances. The importance of survival is how we maximize the potential of each of those limited resources.”
The Immigrants : Japanese, South Asian, Chinese and one family’s story
people lived in the townsite near the original gas station at Fraser Mills.