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Japanese Canadian Blue River Road Camp Collection
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[Road camp administration correspondence and related records]

File consists of correspondence and related records of R.M. Corning, Assistant Engineer, Engineering and Construction Service, Blue River with the British Columbia Security Commission (B.C.S.C). Some letters are from the B.C.S.C. to A.W. Brereton, also Assistant Engineer at Blue River. The file includes records pertaining to the following camps: Pyramid, Blue River, Thunder River, Lempriere, Red Sands, Black Spur and Pratt, and the movement of Japanese Canadians to and from the housing centres of Kaslo, Sandon, New Denver, Roseberry, Lemon Creek, Slocan and Greenwood.

Records in the file relate to the administration of road camps and the management of camp workers, and relevant policies, procedures and legislation.

A significant portion of the correspondence and related records concerns requests from camp workers to be transferred to other projects, areas or occupations, including men requesting to be reunited with their wives or other family members; requests from sawmills to hire workers; and the policies surrounding the granting or rejection of these requests. Among these records are a couple of letters in which road camp workers describe their lives and occupations previous to evacuation. A December 1, 1942 document prepared by Corning lists camp workers to be transferred from Black Spur, Thunder River and Red Sands to the housing centres of Slocan, New Denver, and Greenwood, B.C., and includes information such as surname, given name (initial), registration number, locations transferred to and from, as well as the protocol for travel and escort. A January 15, 1943 letter from the B.C.S.C. discusses Ottawa’s opposition to any further hiring of Japanese Canadians for employment in the B.C. lumber industry. Also included in the file are records pertaining to the transfer of Japanese Canadian camp workers from Pyramid camp to Alberta logging camps, the use of “propaganda” to encourage camp workers to go to logging camps in Ontario, and the refusal of some workers to go to logging camps.

Other correspondence and related documents deal with the policies and procedures for granting camp workers leave permits and perceived inefficiencies around the granting of such permits. A January 9, 1943 document lists men in Pyramid Camp seeking fourteen day leave, and includes information such as name, registration number, desired destination, and their relationship to the individuals that they will visit. Several letters discuss the attitudes of particular communities towards Japanese Canadians.

The file also contains correspondence and other documents concerning reportedly unsatisfactory or unruly camp workers. This includes several lists of ‘ineffectives’ to be transferred out of various camps. The lists include information such as name, registration number, age, marital status and destination (eg. Old Man’s Home, hospital, other camps), as well as details regarding the reason for being removed or transferred from camp, such as old age, suspected physical or mental health issues, or refusal to work.

Other records in the file pertain to food supplies, the censorship of Japanese Canadian mail, Workmen’s (Workers’) Compensation Board benefits, workers’ assignment payments, and attempts to get monies owed to Japanese Canadian workers from private companies.

[Letter] Re: Yellowhead-Blue River project, Japanese nationals

Item is a letter from C.M. Walker, Supervising Engineer in Banff, Alberta, to R.M. Corning, Resident Engineer, Engineering & Construction Service, Red Pass, B.C., regarding housing demands made by Japanese road camp workers at Thunder River Camp. The letter alludes to "incipient trouble" and potential strike action by the workers.

[Lempriere Camp]

File consists of correspondence and related records pertaining to activities and personnel, both Japanese Canadian and other, at Lempriere Camp. The majority of correspondence is between Lempriere Camp foremen and Department of Mines and Resources staff, in particular Assistant Engineer R.M. Corning, A.W. Brereton, and C.R. Cornish. Also included is some correspondence from Japanese Canadian camp workers and the British Columbia Security Commission (B.C.S.C.). In addition to Lempriere camp, the file includes a small amount of records concerning Pyramid camp.

Much of the correspondence consists of memoranda of an administrative nature, including correspondence pertaining to equipment and supplies for camp; general administration; financial and accounting matters, such as cheques owed to camp workers, money owed by workers, assignments to be paid by Japanese Canadian workers under the Maintenance Act; and personnel matters, such as wages paid to workers, Workmen’s (Workers’) Compensation Board and Unemployment Insurance claims, and the resignation and replacement of foremen. Included is a memorandum concerning the requirement for Japanese Canadian workers to complete forms for the Custodian of Enemy Property, and several records relating to medical and dental conditions of and treatment received by camp workers. Other correspondence in the file pertains to dealing with workers deemed to be difficult, including those reportedly either not following instructions or not doing enough work to pay for their meals and/or medical costs. The file also includes a memorandum pertaining to a visit by the Spanish Consul to Blue River and the need to find a “spokesman” amongst the Japanese nationals at Lempriere camp for this occasion.

A majority of the correspondence concerns the transfer of Japanese Canadian workers between camps or requests of the men to leave camp for jobs in the British Columbia interior, Alberta and Ontario; this includes correspondence regarding the banning for a period of time of the employment of Japanese Canadians in B.C. sawmills and the active recruiting of men for jobs at sawmills and logging companies outside of British Columbia. The file also contains records pertaining to requests for leaves of absence and men seeking to leave camp to get married. Correspondence between Brereton and a Japanese Canadian worker in April 1943 discusses the worker’s life in the one year since evacuation and previously in Vancouver, and includes Brereton’s response to his request to marry and find suitable employment outside of camp. A letter of reference from Corning for a Japanese Canadian worker is also included in the file. A few letters discuss the dissuasion of Japanese Canadians from settling in communities that do not welcome such settlement and a letter dated April 1, 1943 refers to the removal of unmarried men from Hope.

[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.

[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.

[British Columbia Security Commission correspondence]

File consists of correspondence and related records of R.M. Corning, Assistant Engineer, Engineering and Construction Service, Blue River with the British Columbia Security Commission (B.C.S.C). Some letters are from the B.C.S.C. to A.W. Brereton, also Assistant Engineer at Blue River. The file includes records pertaining to the following camps: Pyramid, Blue River, Thunder River, Lempriere, Red Sands, Black Spur and Pratt, and the movement of Japanese Canadians to and from the housing centres of Kaslo, Sandon, New Denver, Roseberry, Lemon Creek, Slocan and Greenwood.

Records in the file relate to the administration of road camps and the management of camp workers, and relevant policies, procedures and legislation.

A significant portion of the correspondence and related records concerns requests from camp workers to be transferred to other projects, areas or occupations, including men requesting to be reunited with their wives or other family members; requests from sawmills to hire workers; and the policies surrounding the granting or rejection of these requests. Among these records are a couple of letters in which road camp workers describe their lives and occupations previous to evacuation. A December 1, 1942 document prepared by Corning lists camp workers to be transferred from Black Spur, Thunder River and Red Sands to the housing centres of Slocan, New Denver, and Greenwood, B.C., and includes information such as surname, given name (initial), registration number, locations transferred to and from, as well as the protocol for travel and escort. A January 15, 1943 letter from the B.C.S.C. discusses Ottawa’s opposition to any further hiring of Japanese Canadians for employment in the B.C. lumber industry. Also included in the file are records pertaining to the transfer of Japanese Canadian camp workers from Pyramid camp to Alberta logging camps, the use of “propaganda” to encourage camp workers to go to logging camps in Ontario, and the refusal of some workers to go to logging camps.

Other correspondence and related documents deal with the policies and procedures for granting camp workers leave permits and perceived inefficiencies around the granting of such permits. A January 9, 1943 document lists men in Pyramid Camp seeking fourteen day leave, and includes information such as name, registration number, desired destination, and their relationship to the individuals that they will visit. Several letters discuss the attitudes of particular communities towards Japanese Canadians.

The file also contains correspondence and other documents concerning reportedly unsatisfactory or unruly camp workers. This includes several lists of ‘ineffectives’ to be transferred out of various camps. The lists include information such as name, registration number, age, marital status and destination (eg. Old Man’s Home, hospital, other camps), as well as details regarding the reason for being removed or transferred from camp, such as old age, suspected physical or mental health issues, or refusal to work.

Other records in the file pertain to food supplies, the censorship of Japanese Canadian mail, Workmen’s (Workers’) Compensation Board benefits, workers’ assignment payments, and attempts to get monies owed to Japanese Canadian workers from private companies.

[British Columbia Security Commission correspondence]

File consists of correspondence and related records between the Engineering Branch of the Department of Mines & Resources and the British Columbia Security Commission (B.C.S.C.), in particular R.M. Corning, Assistant Engineer, Engineering and Construction Service, Blue River with W.A. Eastwood and C.V. Booth of the B.C.S.C. The file includes records pertaining to the following camps: Pyramid, Blue River, Yellowhead, Thunder River, Lempriere, and Rainbow Ranch.

Records relate to the administration of the road camp and management of the workers, as well as relevant policies, procedures and legislation. A significant portion of the correspondence relates to requests from camp workers to be transferred to other projects, areas or occupations, as well as requests from sawmills wanting to hire workers and the legislation and policies surrounding the granting or rejection of these requests. Other correspondence deals with policies and procedures for granting camp workers leave permits and the attitudes of particular communities towards Japanese Canadians. The file also contains correspondence concerning identifying and dealing with “agitators”, or discontent or unsatisfactory workers in camp; the transfer of workers to the prairies and Ontario and required medical tests for these workers; and workers’ medical issues. Financial records and related correspondence pertain to wages due to workers, refunds of evacuation fare, unemployment insurance, and assignment fees to be paid by workers to cover the expenses incurred by the B.C.S.C. to care for their elderly parents. Also included are letters in which road camp workers describe their lives and occupations previous to evacuation, and lists of workers on the Yellowhead / Blue River project, containing information such as name, age, registration number, marital status, number of dependents, physical defects, occupation and place of birth.

Notice

Item is a newspaper clipping featuring a "Notice" from the B.C. Security Commission to Japanese Canadian evacuees published in the "New Canadian" newspaper pertaining to pay scales, assignment payments, and other conditions placed on Japanese Canadian evacuees and their families, as well as alternative employment available to these men. On the verso of the newspaper clipping is a "Notice to all persons of the Japanese race" from the Commission, pertaining to the care of the families of male evacuees, as well as a portion of an article pertaining to hostility towards evacuees in the Okanagan.

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.

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.

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.

Department of Public Works

File consists of correspondence and related records of W.J. Wishart, Superintendent of Camps and Warehouses, Department of Public Works, Red Pass Junction, relating to his administration of the purchasing of supplies and equipment necessary for the establishment and operation of the road camps, and the distribution of the items from Red Pass to other camps.

Records pertain to the preparation of the camps for the arrival of 2,000 Japanese Canadians. In addition to the records concerning the procurement of supplies and equipment, there is a small number of records relating to personnel issues and wages, and the censorship of mail.

Camps

File consists of correspondence and related records of W.J. Wishart at Red Pass Junction in the capacities of Superintendent of Camps and Warehouses, Department of Public Works, and Supervising Foreman, Department of Mines & Resources. The records pertain to the set up and operation of the Japanese Canadian road camps, in particular those at Geikie, Jasper and Decoigne, Alberta, and those at Red Pass, Albreda, Red Sands, Rainbow, Grantbrook, Tete Jaune, Yellowhead, Black’s Spur, Lucerne and Lampriere, British Columbia.
Included in the file are operational memos, purchase orders, balance sheets, reports, and other records pertaining to equipment and supplies for the camps, including groceries and other provisions; office, commissary and first aid supplies; horse feed; lumber; and gas and oil. A work report to February 28, 1942 from Geikie Camp lists names of non-Japanese Canadian workers, their occupations, and hours worked per day; the hours contributed by Japanese Canadian workers, who are listed as a unit of fifty; as well as the total hours worked on establishing camp, kitchen duty, and camp duty. April 1942 reports from Lucerne camp and Grantbrook Camp 5 detail camp activities, including the movement of workers in and out of camp. Also included in the file is correspondence from non-Japanese Canadian men looking for employment, correspondence from the hospital car at Lempriere regarding procedures to follow with regard to medical care of the workers, and correspondence pertaining to the establishment of kitchens and kitchen staff.
Correspondence concerning Japanese Canadian road camp workers relates to medical issues of the men; opinions of supervisors towards individual workers; the transfer of workers between camps and to other areas, such as the sugar beet fields; the granting of leave; and workers that either did not arrive or did not return to camp. The file includes an April 27, 1942 document listing men to be transferred from Albreda to Red Sands, organized according to the railway car in which they travelled, with information such as first and last name, parole #, occupation and marital status. Earlier annotated versions of this list are also included. The file also includes British Columbia Security Commission notices published in the New Canadian newspaper pertaining to pay scales, assignment payments, and other conditions placed on Japanese Canadian road camp workers and their families, as well as alternative employment available. Other correspondence from Albreda and Yellowhead Camp B1 pertains to Japanese Canadian workers refusing to work and encouraging other workers to do the same. An April 2, 1942 “list of some of the real undesirables” from Yellowhead Camp B1 lists the names of five men along with their serial and parole numbers, age, marital status, and a description of their alleged undesirable behaviour, for example refusing to work and encouraging other men to do the same.
In addition to textual records, the file also includes architectural drawings for a “Bunkhouse for 50 men” (front elevation, floor plan, rear elevation, end elevation, cross-sections) and a “Mess building for 100 men” (front elevation, floor plan, end elevation, cross-section).