From Harbour to Harvest: The Diverse Paths of Japanese-Canadians to Landownership, Farming, and the Making of Community in the Fraser Valley, 1904-1942

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
2004
Authors/Contributors
Abstract
From 1904 and 1942, over 2000 Japanese-Canadians settled in the farming communities of Mission and Maple Ridge in British Columbia, Canada. Most first generation Japanese-Canadians, or issei, came to farming after working an average of ten years as labourers, mainly in the resource industries. Drawing on a database of 135 farmers, this study looks at the occupational paths of issei men and women to landownership, farming, and the making of community. It argues that the occupational choices reflect, first, their resistance to the oppressive and discriminatory policies and attitudes of the dominant white society and, second, their assertion of control over their own lives and over the shaping of their rural transnational communities. The first chapter reviews the historiography and background to Japanese- Canadian settlement of the Fraser Valley with an emphasis on the social, cultural, and ethnic contexts. This gradual movement reflected the response of the issei to their experience of work and life in Canada prior to becoming landowning farmers. The second chapter focuses on the occupational paths of issei men and their reasons for gravitating to landownership and farming. It draws on their experience and choices as individuals who were part of a marginalized and racialized visible minority. The third chapter examines the diverse and difficult occupational paths of issei women who shared fully in the establishment and maintenance of the family farm. It also discusses ways in which issei women contributed to the development of Fraser Valley communities and participated in the translation and negotiation of culture within rural society. The final chapter looks at the making of community in the Fraser Valley as an outgrowth of occupational paths and an ongoing dynamic process that was subject to the guidance of issei leaders who spoke English and understood Canadian culture. Occupational paths continued to change and expand to meet the needs of both family and community. Further, the economic interdependence that developed between issei and white farmers, mainly through marketing cooperatives, promoted ongoing interaction, cultural overlap, and cooperation.
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Language
English
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