In Their Words : The Story of BC Packers
Japanese-Canadian Imperial Cannery women laughing
Japanese-Canadian Imperial Cannery women laughing.
Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society. BC Packers Collection
Japanese-Canadian Imperial Cannery women laughing Japanese-Canadian gillnet fisherman with a dogfish in his net Japanese fisherman working with nets on a boat docked in Steveston

Soon Japanese-Canadian gillnetters were back to fishing and their wives returned to the canneries. By 1951, some 250 Japanese-Canadian families had returned to settle in Steveston. During the war years, the town had become a European community. Many Japanese-Canadians faced even more racism upon their return.

As Japanese-Canadian fisherman Unosuke Sakamoto recalled,

"The cannery provided us with boats that first year, but they were such rotten, junky boats they were no good. That's all there were and we had to fix them up. The next year all the junky boats were sold for new ones. The canneries were completely co-operative by that time and loaned us as much money as we wanted."

He also recalled:

"When we first came back, we found that if we left our boats unwatched, all our gear would be gone right away."

Some families rented cannery houses from the companies. Many more families bought land and built new homes in and around Steveston. During the 1970s, many of the Japanese-Canadian fishermen and cannery workers who had returned to Steveston after the war began retiring. Most of their children grew up in an era of greater access to opportunities. However, most did not choose to work in the fishing and canning industry as did their fathers and mothers before them.


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