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Japanese Settlers in Raymond

Pioneer Histories

In 1909, another recruit of the Knight Sugar Factory was a young man of 19. He began in the beet fields in the summer and worked for a prominent family during the winter months, but soon bought some land south of Raymond and started dryland farming. He returned to Japan in 1923 and brought back a bride to his farm to start a family. Here they raised a family of six children, three sons and three daughters. In addition to their farm they were devoted members of the Raymond Buddhist Church and served for many years on the executive Board of the Church and for the ladies organizations. They retired to Delta, B.C. where they continued their love of gardening, traveling and fishing.

Another émigré from Japan was a survivor of the Russo-Japanese War, honourably discharged in 1905. His passport to Hawaii is dated 1907 and, after an unknown period of time working in lumber camps in B.C., he came to Raymond when a farmer in the Raymond district, a native of this hometown in Japan, assured him of employment in farming. He lived in a dugout with other bachelors south of the town where they worked in agriculture, eventually leasing land in their own names. In August 1919 his bride arrived from Japan and they raised their family on the farm they purchased in 1924. Then years later all property in that area was sold to a single buyer, and they were forced to relocated to a farm south and west of their original holding. Times were hard due to crop failures and the tractor and all farm equipment was repossessed. In the spring of 1938 they moved again but as summer wore on all but one in the family became ill. There was no doctor in town at that time and the head of the family was taken to Lethbridge where he was admitted to hospital. Arrangements were made with two of his sons to donate blood, but due to a raging blizzard they were unable to get to the hospital. He passed away on November 20, 1938.

Another man, born in Japan in 1883, came to Canada as a young man in 1909 and worked as a houseboy at the Japanese Consulate in Vancouver to learn the English language. He later tried his hand at tailoring and also worked as a train conductor.

He came to southern Alberta and settled in the Raymond area. After labouring in the potato fields and cooking for the hands on a large ranch, he amassed enough funds to purchase some land in the Milk River Ridge area. He wife came over from Shikoku, Japan in 1924 and they raised eight children.

In spite of hard times during the Depression years the family managed to make ends meet. The children were able to pursue their education beyond grade school and high school. They worked hard to find a niche in this harsh foreign land which was to become their home. With perseverance and determination and with the help of their two older sons they were able to increase their holdings and farm and ranch extensively.

Another young man to emigrate from Japan with his father arrived in Vancouver in May 1907 at the age of 19. A month after arriving his father died, and the young man found work building track for the railway. This was hard work and he was not treated very well.

The sugar factory in Raymond had been advertising for Japanese labourers to work in the sugar fields so he came to Raymond in 1908. In 1915, after working for some years, he met and married a young lady who had come form Holland with her parents in 1913. They tried dryland farming on the Milk River Ridge but did not stay with this. He returned to farm sugar beets for one of the local farmers. They raised eight children over the years and spent their later years in Raymond.

Excerpts courtesy of Evelyn Hendry from the Raymond Museum and Archives.

See also:

[back] [First People and Settlers] [New Beginnings] [Adventurous Albertans]

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