Japanese Canadian Journey

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The Nakagama Story

by Rochelle Yamagishi

Japanese grocer carrying a bag of rice

The general history of Japanese Canadian immigration in the early 1900s, and subsequent forced removal of Japanese Canadians from the west coast of Canada to southern Alberta during World War II to work on sugar beet farms, is interwoven with the personalized story of a particular entrepreneur, Ryutaro Nakagama, who established the first Albertan Japanese food store in Lethbridge, Alberta. Young and single at the time, the author’s father, Ryutaro, viewed his move to Canada as a new adventure, a chance to break away from existing conditions in his homeland. On April 16, 1924, eighteen-year-old Ryutaro arrived in Victoria, British Columbia, on the S.S. McKinley. His older sister, Miye, and her husband, Chosaburo Nakagama, had emigrated earlier, and sponsored Ryutaro to work in Steveston, British Columbia. Chosaburo had his own fishing boat and fishing license under which the two men could fish, so Ryutaro worked with his brother-in-law in the fishing industry for three years, from 1924 to 1927. Typically, Japanese immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century came to Canada only temporarily, but he seemed intent on staying in Canada to make his future. The decision was confirmed when he became a naturalized Canadian citizen on October 2, 1926.

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Publisher: Trafford Publishing
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About the Author

Rochelle Yamagishi is a tutor with Athabasca University.


The Wages of Relief

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Cities and the Unemployed in Prairie Canada, 1929–39

by Eric Strikwerda

scaffolding in a building site

In the early part of the Dirty Thirties, the Canadian prairie city was a relatively safe haven. Having faced recession before the Great War and then again in the early 1920s, municipalities already had relief apparatuses in place to deal with poverty and unemployment. Until 1933, responsibility for the care of the urban poor remained with local governments, but when the farms failed that year, and the Depression deepened, western Canadian cities suffered tremendously. Recognizing the severity of the crisis, the national government intervened. Evolving federal programs and policies took over responsibility for the delivery of relief to the single unemployed, while the government simultaneously withdrew financing for all public works projects.

Setting municipal relief administrations of the 1930s within a wider literature on welfare and urban poor relief, Strikwerda highlights the legacy on which relief policymakers relied in determining policy directions, as well as the experiences of the individuals and families who depended on relief for their survival. Focusing on three prairie cities—Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg—Strikwerda argues that municipal officials used their power to set policy to address what they perceived to be the most serious threats to the social order stemming from the economic crisis. By analyzing the differing ways in which local relief programs treated married and single men, he also explores important gendered dynamics at work in the response of city administrators to the social and economic upheaval of the Depression. Probing the mindset of local elites struggling in extraordinary circumstances, The Wages of Relief describes the enduring impact of the policy changes made in the 1930s in the direction of a broad, national approach to unemployment—an approach that ushered in Canada’s modern welfare system.

About the Author

Eric Strikwerda is an Assistant Professor in History in the Centre for Humanities. View Eric's faculty page.


Game Plan

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A social history of sports in Alberta

by Karen Wall

photo of female athlete smiling

How deep is the importance and influence of organized sports in Alberta? Discover key episodes and players in the history of Alberta's organized sports and read how sport shaped the lives of individuals as well as of communities of indigenous people, settlers, and immigrants. Read new perspectives on well-known sports stories along with tales of lesser-known games that remained on the margins of most histories for reasons of race, class, and gender. Whether a spectator, supporter, scholar, or fan, readers will be informed and delighted by the research contained in this sport history.

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Publisher: The University of Alberta Press
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About the Author

Karen Wall is an Associate Professor in Communication Studies, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies. View Karen's faculty web page.