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Mitchell, J.H. Canada Labour
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[Camp organization records]

File consists of correspondence and related records of W.J. Wishart, Supervising Foreman, Work Camp #B7, Red Pass Junction and J.H. Mitchell, Senior Assistant Engineer, Jasper, Alberta.

Records consist of correspondence, invoices, cables, lists, purchase orders, requisitions and other documents pertaining to the set up and administration of the road camps, in particular those at Blue River, Thunder River, Red Pass, Tete Jaune, Black Spur, Red Sands, Blacks Spit, Rainbow and Lucerne. Includes records relating to the ordering of food, supplies, and equipment; the construction of camp buildings; personnel and administration matters; the hiring of cooks, foremen, sub foremen and carpenters; medical and dental attention required by Japanese Canadian workers; and procedures for the handling and censorship of Japanese Canadian mail. The file also includes lists of non-Japanese Canadian staff containing information such as name, job, age, marital status and number of dependents. A letter from Wishart to Mitchell dated March 23, 1942 pertains to the set-up of the Blue River camp; the perceived organization of Japanese Canadian workers amongst themselves and methods of discouraging this; as well as Wishart’s visits to camps at Red Pass, Thunder River, Red Sands and Blacks Spit.

Jasper

File consists of correspondence and related records of W.J. Wishart, Supervising Foreman, Japanese Nationals Camps, Red Pass Junction, mainly with J.H. Mitchell, Senior Assistant Engineer, Jasper (and later Red Pass). The file includes records pertaining to road camps at Albreda, Yellowhead, Tete Jaune, Lucerne, Grantbrook, Rainbow, Red Pass, Thunder River, Black Spur, Gosnell and Lempriere.

The records in the file reflect a variety of areas of concern in the administration of the camps. Included are records pertaining to the ordering of supplies, equipment and food for the camps and the hospital; the care of sick road camp workers; the management of non-Japanese Canadian staff such as foremen; restricted access of Japanese Canadian workers to the railways; and the granting of permissions to workers to travel to other areas. The file also includes correspondence and related documents pertaining to the reunification of Japanese Canadian family members, for instance the transfer of a father to his son at Red Pass, and the British Columbia Security Commission’s granting of authority for some Japanese Canadian men to rejoin their families in Vancouver in preparation for relocation as a family unit to other projects. Other correspondence documents reported difficulties with the Japanese Canadian road camp workers, including refusals to work. The file also includes Wishart’s April 6, 1942 report on a trip to Tete Jaune and the status of camp operations, as well as his April 9, 1942 report of an “inspection trip of the camps in the Blue River – Albreda division,” which provides updates on the progress of camps at Blue River, Red Sands, Thunder River, Lempriere, Gosnell, Black Spur and Albreda.

No. 2: Employment (foremen and subforemen) [correspondence and related records]

File consists of correspondence and related records of the Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch pertaining to the employment of foremen and sub foremen in the Japanese Canadian road camps along the Yellowhead Highway, including Tete Jaune, Red Pass, Thunder River, Rainbow, Lucerne and Yellowhead, British Columbia, and Decoigne and Geikie, Alberta. Predominant correspondents include C.M. Walker, Supervising Engineer, Banff; J.H. Mitchell, the Senior Assistant Engineer, Red Pass Junctions; T.S. Mills, Chief Engineer; and W.J. Wishart, Supervising Foreman.

The bulk of the material consists of correspondence pertaining to the hiring of foremen and sub foremen, and related personnel issues, including letters of application and recommendation, and offers of employment, which detail information concerning positions, locations and wages. Also included are descriptions of men recommended for hire, including such information as age, character and experience, and lists of foremen and sub foremen containing the following information: name, address, experience, date/method sent for, reply, and remarks, such as why a job was turned down or the age of the individual. In addition, a small number of records in the file pertain to Japanese Canadian road camp workers, including a request for the removal of a ‘troublesome’ camp worker, as well as the attitudes of non-Japanese Canadian staff towards the workers.

[Camp nominal rolls, correspondence and other records]

File consists of nominal rolls, correspondence, lists, bills of lading and other records, mainly of W.J. Wishart, Supervising Foreman at Red Pass, with a few letters addressed to R.M. Corning, Assistant Engineer, Blue River and Resident Engineer, Red Pass. The file includes records pertaining to road camps at Yellowhead, Lucerne, Rainbow, Tete Jaune, Red Pass, Grantbrook, and Albreda.

The file contains nominal rolls, also called personnel lists, for Japanese Canadian road camp workers (“Japanese Nationals”) at Grantbrook Camp 5, Rainbow Camp 6, Tete Jaune Camp B12, and Lucerne Camp 2. Information listed in these documents includes some or all of the following: last name, first name or initial, registration number, camp occupation, marital status and number of dependents. The file also includes a list of Japanese Nationals to be transferred from Albreda to Red Sands camp, with the following information: car number, registration number, first and last names, pre-evacuation occupation, and marital status.

Amongst the correspondence in the file is a letter from Chief Engineer T.S. Mills to Corning advising him that staff should be aware of “not divulging either orally or in personal correspondence any confidential information regarding any project or work which has resulted from Canada at war” that might be used by enemy agents, and a telegram to a Japanese Canadian camp worker from his wife advising him of the acquisition of a sugar beet contract and the sale of a Japanese Canadian house. The file also contains correspondence pertaining to the medical treatment of Japanese Canadian road camp workers and the hiring of a first aid attendant, as well as lists, bills of lading and correspondence pertaining to equipment and supplies, in particular groceries, required for various camps.
Several letters within the file concern perceived agitation, organization, demands and complaints amongst the Japanese Canadian road camp workers. These include an April 24, 1942 letter from Wishart to J.H. Mitchell, Senior Assistant Engineer, Jasper, regarding Lucerne camp workers’ refusal to work in protest of the planned removal from camp of seven men identified as “agitators”; a May 1, 1942 letter from Wishart to Mitchell concerning the organization of Albreda camp workers and their refusal to work in protest of the planned transfer of thirty men to Red Sands and numerous conditions at camp that they felt to be unsatisfactory, the resolution of these issues, and plans to quickly identify and “discipline” any future “trouble makers”; as well as an October 6, 1942 letter from Supervising Engineer C.M. Walker in Banff to Corning at Red Pass regarding workers’ demands at Thunder River camp and possible methods of dealing with potential strike action.

Japanese Canadian Blue River Road Camp Collection

  • MsC-140
  • Fonds
  • 17 Feb. 1942-10 Nov. 1943

Covering the time period from February 1942 to November 1943, the collection consists of records created or received by various staff of the Department of Mines and Resources, Surveys and Engineering Branch in the course of their activities establishing, administering and operating road work camps for evacuated male Japanese Canadian nationals along the proposed route of the Yellowhead Highway between Blue River, British Columbia and Jasper, Alberta. Also included among the files are some records of Department of Public Works staff pertaining to their role in the establishment of the camps, as well as a significant amount of correspondence with the British Columbia Security Commission (B.C.S.C) and related records. In addition to documenting the evacuation of Japanese Canadians from the B.C. coast to interior road work camps and other areas in early 1942, and many of the activities and events that occurred in the camps, the records also provide evidence of the economic and labour conditions in British Columbia during World War II.

Records within the collection pertain to the following road work camps: Albreda, Black Spur, Blacks Spit, Blue River, Gosnell, Grantbrook, Lampriere, Lucerne, Pratt, Pyramid, Rainbow, Red Pass, Red Sands, Tete Jaune / Yellowhead, and Thunder River in British Columbia, and Geikie, Jasper and Decoigne in Alberta. In addition, some records reference detention camps at Greenwood, Kaslo, Lemon Creek, New Denver, Roseberry, Sandon, and Slocan.

Record types include correspondence, reports, lists, nominal rolls, bills of lading, invoices, operational memos, purchase orders, and balance sheets. A significant number of records relate to the establishment and ongoing supply of the road work camps; these include supply orders and invoices, architectural plans for camp buildings, and status and other reports concerning the preparation of camps. Administrative personnel records document the hiring, management and activities of non-Japanese Canadian road camp workers, such as foremen, sub-foremen, and carpenters, and include information pertaining to the previous work and life experiences of these men, their age, ‘character,’ medical conditions, and home address, as well as positions and wages expected and received.

Many records within the fonds relate to the management of Japanese Canadian road camp workers, including the administration of pay, Workmens’ Compensation claims, and payment of assignment fees for dependents; medical and perceived psychological issues and the treatment of such issues; and the movement of Japanese Canadian men between camps and the policies and procedures governing these movements. This includes records pertaining to the granting of temporary leave, transfer to other camps or areas, family re-unification, the release of workers to private jobs, either within B.C. or in another province such as Ontario or Alberta, and the attitudes of certain communities towards Japanese Canadians. Correspondence in several files relates to supervisors’ attitudes towards road camp workers, including those identified as agitators or troublesome, and the methods used to deal with them, such as transfer out of camp and the censorship of Japanese Canadian mail. Included also are records relating to the organization and collective resistance of Japanese Canadian road camp workers, their demands, complaints and refusals to work, and the techniques identified to deal with these situations.

Several files include nominal roles and other lists of Japanese Canadian and other road camp workers, including some or all of the following personal information: name, registration number, occupation, previous work experience, age, place of birth, address, marital status, number of dependents, ‘physical defects’ and medical, dental or mental health issues. Some correspondence from Japanese Canadian road camp workers to camp administrators provides insight into their lives both in camp and prior to evacuation.

Canada. Department of Mines and Resources. Surveys and Engineering Branch.