Japanese History

Greenwood’s Japanese Citizens

In 1942, Greenwood became the home to 1200 Japanese-Canadians. Mayor W.E. McArthur Sr. asked the Canadian Government for the Japanese-Canadians to come here in order to revive the town.

In 1942, more than 1100 Japanese Canadians were interned in Greenwood, BC.

Many of the empty buildings were used to house the people coming into the community. Some large buildings were partitioned off with small rooms to house families and had a large communal kitchen. Some even had segregated communal baths. There was some local resentment but soon the local citizens accepted the new residents. From a dying town of 200 with many buildings boarded up for years to a bustling community of around 1400 people. Store keepers benefited, new stores opened, and people were employed.

The fire hall was turned into a kindergarten, the Greenwood School was full of pupils.

There was much turmoil as everyone was crowded together and people were forced to adapt. The men were put to work in labour camps away from Their families, doing construction work in road camps. A new book has been published about the Teachers’ experiences in the Internment Camps of BC called “Teaching in Canadian Exile” by Frank Moritsugu and the Ghost Town Teachers Historical Society “the War Between Us” is a movie about the internment which was filmed in and around the Slocan Valley, BC.

For more information on Japanese Canadians, click HERE for the “Japanese Canadian National Museum Web Page”

Greenwood citizens were reminded of the Internment in 1998 when “Snow Falling on Cedars” was filmed in town and many of the local Japanese-Canadian citizens were asked to be extras in this movie. It brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad.