Discover Nikkei Logo

Mystery Album - Part 2

Daisy Sakamoto's diploma from 1945

Read Part 1 >>

Excerpts taken from the 1946 SHS Yearbook

Mayor McArthur’s speech to the 1946 grads:

Most of you are of Japanese origin, and although you are Canadians in every sense of the word, you had to undergo hardships which were caused by the hatreds which sprung up during the war. During the past four years, you have stood up under this burden in a manner which is very creditable. I have found you to be very fine children, indeed, and I will always be keenly interested in your future welfare. In time, the hard feelings caused by the war will wear away. I am sure you will be happy to live in such a splendid country as Canada. I know that with your industry and integrity, you will find a satisfactory place to carry forward your life’s endeavor wherever it may be. Some of you will be in the east, some will, no doubt stay in B.C. and others may go to Japan with your parents. But, wherever you may be, I wish you to keep a warm spot in your heart for the City of Greenwood.

BCSC Leonard Cowdrill:

This is the end of the first year of an uneasy ‘Peace’ and during this period your parents have again been called upon to make a decision regarding the future.

November 14th:

Daniel Hashimoto and Kirk Kawamoto went East today. We regret to see our friends leave Greenwood.

June 28th:

A Farewell Party was held at school for three students leaving for East, Roy and Johnny Fujimoto, and Stephen Nakai.

Mayor McArthur Sr. Speech to the Grads:

I do not know what would have happened to our public school if the Society of the Atonement has not come, because it is now over-crowded. I think the Sisters are old-fashioned, however, for they do not go on strike in a modern way. In fact, they do not get any pay. There is one unfortunate thing. In four years we form certain friendships, and I am sorry to say that in many cases these do not continue for you move away; some are going East and some to Japan…it is a sad thing. We got to know some person, and the first thing we know the friendship is ended, for we are at the train station seeing them off on their way to Toronto, Montreal and other points East. We are here today and gone tomorrow. I will always regret it. As to the future, it is still uncertain, but I think you have taken your part very well under hardships. You have had to leave your homes, your friends and make a new start in life. Nevertheless, as bad as it is, the conditions could have been worse; say you were in Germany or Japan, where there is such a shortage of food.


My former Canadian home was in Steveston. The school I went there was Lord Byng. I used to pass the home of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement. Many little children were taken good care of by the kind Sisters while their mothers went out to work. We were happy there, but suddenly we had to leave our beloved home. That was in 1942. I know I will never see our home in Steveston again, but I shall always carry memories of it wherever I go.

— Sakaye Tamoto Grade VIII

Daisy Sakamoto in Greenwood, and years later. Courtesy of her daughter Lori Sameshima.

Excerpts taken from the 1947 SHS Yearbook

Mayor’s Speech to the Grads:

It has been a long, uphill road, but the tip is in sight at last; and I feel sure that the new Citizenship Act will eventually settle all your difficulties. A few obstacles remain to be overcome, but it is merely a question of time and patience. While you have been in Greenwood, your conduct has been worthy of the highest praise.

P.T.A. President Tsurukichi Takemoto:

At the time of our arrival in 1942, educational facilities sufficient for an additional 300 children were not available for you. Provincial authorities in charge had their own difficulties in being organized and hence were unable to help the situation. In Greenwood School room was insufficient, additional teachers very difficult to obtain, and so it was indeed a dark and trying time for you. It was at this point that something unusual happened, which proved a God-sent blessing. The Franciscan Friars and Sisters came to the rescue and relieved the situation. The fire hall was transformed into four rooms, desks and books gathered…. we have actually spent five years in Greenwood.

April 23rd:

We lost one of our dear friends, Fr. Peter Baptist Katsuno who left for Graymoor, N.Y.

Summerland is a little town, slightly larger than Greenwood. There is a Nisei Club here. We don’t have anything like the concerts in Greenwood and I wish I could see one again.

— Irene Uegama, Class of ’44

I missed the Greenwood rink and all my friends and the fun we used to have.

— Martha Uegama, Class of ’43

Mail Bag from Japan:

George and I have been working for the Forces ever since August and we’re both doing fine. If it was not for going to the Commercial, and for the Sisters teaching typing and shorthand, I would not be here with this job as stenographer. 

— Kazuko Nakamura

Thanks to the Sisters, I have a very nice position as secretary in the Engineering Topographic Battalion, U.S. Army. 

— Hisako Tabata

I am having a hard time over the difference in manners, in work and everything. There is a shortage of food and clothes. I am so lonely by myself with none of my old friends. I am praying that I may go back to my country (Canada) again. 

— Betty Murakami

Japan, as I find it now is a beaten and lost country, slowly recovering and gradually moving on to the road to democracy. A cloud of gloom hangs over everything and that is the critical food situation. Food is as scarce as ever, and the only bright spot here is the occasional emergency ration which comes from the U.S. It is a full day’s work trying to gather enough food, and in most families three square meals a day are unfortunately uncommon. Black market is rife and since no one can live strictly on rations most of their food is bought in this manner. Everywhere and with everybody the main subject of conversation is food.

Heating, clothing, housing and transportation are the other big problems of the 80 million people of Japan. Never before had their nation been in shambles as it is now. Trains are so crowded, the passengers usually climb in and out through the windows, even though tickets are being limited and difficult to obtain. Coal is scarce but the output is gradually increasing. Even electricity is being cut down, therefore an electric heater will not operate efficiently. Clothing is something the population is doing almost without it. Often, there are former soldiers still wearing their old uniforms. Houses are so scarce that even to find a single room is not easily done. For the ones that have it, a sack of rice or such things might be used as a bribe to get housing.

Since the Allied Forces are occupying Japan, there are soldiers stationed in almost all fair-sized towns. The Occupational Forces are lending a helping hand to the Japanese. This can be seen by how they look up to General MacArthur and seek his guidance. Japanese are turning in greater numbers than ever before to Christianity. These are my impressions of present conditions in Japan, and seeing what I have seen, our class motto of ’43, “Sufferings are Lessons”, should be a fit motto for all the people of Japan.

— Shigeru Tabata

Ascension Thursday, May 15, 1947:

There at the Motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement, Miss Catherine Fujisawa received the holy habit of the Society and the name Sister Catherine Marie (twin sister Margaret followed suit).

More Moving:

Roseanne Fukumura went to Winnipeg, Manitoba; Julia Sasaki to Midway and Leona Yuasa to Japan.

Excerpts taken from the 1950 SHS Yearbook

Sumi dressed for Graduation

Mayor McArthur’s Speech to the Grads:

Many of the things which could have been said in years past do not now apply. The restrictions and shortages which existed during the war years have been removed. I am sure you will look back in future years with fond memories to the Sisters who have been so interested in your welfare and have worked so hard with your best interest in heart.

P.T.A. President Mr. K. Morita:

Congratulations to you, the graduating class of 1950. You are the first class to complete your eight years of school at the Sacred Heart School in Greenwood.

Grand Coulee Dam Field Trip:

Father took us into the building under the dam. We bought souvenirs at the Green Hut.     

— Keiya Oye

Our trip to Grand Coulee Dam was a graduation present. We could at one point see the Columbia River from a very high look-out.     

— Daniel Imoo

We crossed the Columbia River on a ferry. Is that ever a big river! After this, we went to take a look at an airport.

— Joyce Nitsui

Bing Crosby to art contest winner Terry Shigematsu:

Bing Crosby awarded Terry Shigematsu (her Catholic name was Clara) a pink rosary for winning the art contest. From the 1950 Sacred Heart School yearbook

Father Peyton told me that you are one of the winners in the Diocesan High School poster contest for the Family Rosary Crusade. I want to offer my congratulations.

I am sending you a Rosary to commemorate the occasion, and I hope that God and Our Lady will bless you always with every success and happiness.

When you say the Rosary, don’t forget a little prayer for me sometimes. I’ll appreciate that.

Sincerely yours,

Bing Crosby

Return from Japan:

Kazuichi Tasaka and Midori Tani.

* * * * *

What a history lesson from these Sacred Heart School yearbooks! The students’ emotions and anxieties came out in their compositions during those trying times, coping daily and worrying when the next government sanction would occur. Mayor McArthur’s speeches to the graduating classes encouraged the Nikkei to be patient and optimistic. P.T.A. Presidents gave a more descriptive picture of hopelessness to hope. What an emotional journey reading all these yearbooks, knowing what I didn’t know all these years when I lived in Greenwood. I was truly a ‘fly on the wall’ reading the SHS yearbooks, and to think that it all started with the ‘mystery album’!


© 2018 Chuck Tasaka

albums British Columbia Canada Greenwood (B.C.) photograph albums photographs photography schools yearbooks
About the Author

Chuck Tasaka is the grandson of Isaburo and Yorie Tasaka. Chuck’s father was 4th in a family of 19. Chuck was born in Midway, B.C., and grew up in Greenwood, B.C. until he graduated from high school. Chuck attended University of B.C. and graduated in 1968. After retirement in 2002, he became interested in Nikkei history. (Profile photo courtesy of Nelson photographer)

Updated October 2015

Explore more stories! Learn more about Nikkei around the world by searching our vast archive. Explore the Journal
We’re looking for stories like yours! Submit your article, essay, fiction, or poetry to be included in our archive of global Nikkei stories. Learn More
Discover Nikkei brandmark New Site Design See exciting new changes to Discover Nikkei. Find out what’s new and what’s coming soon! Learn More

Discover Nikkei Updates

Nikkei Names 2: Grace, Graça, Graciela, Megumi?
What’s in a name? Share the story of your name with our community. Submissions now open!
Episode 16
June 25 (US) | June 26 (Japan)
Featured Nima:
Stan Kirk
Guest Host:
Masumi Izumi
See exciting new changes to Discover Nikkei. Find out what’s new and what’s coming soon!