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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Japanese Immigration

Henry J. Shimizu

Henry J. Shimizu was interned with the rest of his family at a camp in New Denver, British Columbia, during World War II. He received full Canadian citizenship rights in 1949 and studied medicine at the University of Alberta, becoming one of the first Japanese Canadians to practise medicine in Canada. He was a professor at the University of Alberta for many years and was president of the University of Alberta Hospital’s medical staff. While president, he co-founded Western Canada’s first burn-treatment centre and established a residency program in plastic surgery. Shimizu has also been an active volunteer, acting as chair of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation and helping to create the Nikkei International Memorial Centre in New Denver, British Columbia. His oil paintings, inspired by his life in New Denver, were shown in 2002 at Edmonton’s Japanese Cultural Centre. Shimizu received the University of Alberta Distinguished Alumni Award and is a member of the Order of Canada.

Mikiko Kojhitani

Mikiko Kojhitani studied at the Toho Music University in Tokyo, in Puerto Rico, and at Western Ontario University. She also studied chamber music in Salzburg, Austria, thanks to a Canada Council grant. She has played viola in numerous symphonies world wide and is currently a violist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Alberta Baroque Ensemble.

Zenkichi Shimbashi

Zenkichi Shimbashi came to Canada from Japan on his sixteenth birthday, in March 1906. In 1911, he moved to Alberta where he began working in Raymond’s sugar beet industry. During World War I, he fought in the Calgary 50th Battalion overseas. After the war, Shimbashi became the chef at the ranch of Edward, Prince of Wales, which was located in southern Alberta, near Pekisko. He later moved with his family to a farm in Barnwell. Shimbashi always showed an interest in modern farm equipment and helped bring machines such as mechanical beet harvesters and sprinkler systems to southern Alberta. His company, Shimbashi Farms, is a large-scale vegetable business, still family-run today.

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