Japanese Canadians: Research material

Below are the major archival collections related to Japanese Canadian history held at Library and Archives Canada.

Explore online

The links below will take you to digitized documents. Note that we do not accept requests for copies of digitized records.

  • Office of the Custodian of Enemy Property, Vancouver Office: Case Files and Index, 1942-1951 (Record Group 117, Series C-3, Mikan 135185)

    This collection includes records relating to the administration of property taken from Japanese Canadians. In some of the documents, the individual's present address is recorded. For example, Lemon Creek refers to the Lemon Creek Internment Camp.

    Step 1: Consult the alphabetical index cards

    Microfilm reels C-9299 to C-9434 are digitized on Héritage

    • C-9299 Abe, Akira to Inose, Shiosaburo
    • C-9300 Inose, Taiji to Kobayashi, Yukio
    • C-9301 Kobayashi, Seijiro to Nakao, Yuriko
    • C-9302 Nakashiba, Kumazo to Sano, Aiko
    • C-9303 Sano, Chiyoko to Urase, Toki
    • C-9304 Urata, Kisaburo to Ziegler, Gustav

    There will be a case file number on the person's card.

    Step 2: Consult the finding aid

    Consult Finding Aid 117-6. The list of microfilm reel numbers shows the first and last case number on each reel.

    Step 3: Consult the microfilm

    Many of the files in this collection are restricted, so many of the microfilm reels are therefore restricted.  A few of the reels have been reviewed and opened. Open reels are digitized on our partner website Héritage.

    If the reel of interest to you is not digitized, see Step 4.

    Step 4: Restricted records

    For restricted files, they must be reviewed in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act before being made available for research. 

    You must send a signed, written request to Library and Archives Canada, Access to Information and Privacy Division.  Please cite the full reference, e.g. RG117, name, file number, microfilm number.  Find out How to make a request under the Access to Information Act.

    Please note that, for restricted material, release of personal information is not permitted without the written consent of the person concerned or proof that he or she has been deceased for more than 20 years or was born more than 110 years ago.  Proof of death can be provided by submitting a copy of a death certificate, funeral notice, newspaper obituary or photograph of the tombstone.

  • Repatriation of Japanese (lists). Immigration Branch, 1941-1947, (RG76, volume 647)

    File includes lists of naturalized Canadians repatriated to Japan from 1941 to 1947. File A66589, parts 1 and 2, starts on microfilm C-10586 and continues on C-10587.

  • Online photographs relating to Japanese Canadian internment (RG25, volume 29219)

    Go to Mikan 4922019 and access the 189 photos from the link: 189 lower level description(s)

Consult original documents

The links below will take you to the record in our Archives Search database. The reference numbers after the title of the collection are needed to order copies or to see the original documents when you visit us in Ottawa. You can also hire a free-lance researcher to consult records on your behalf.

Bird Commission, 1947-1949 (RG 33, series number 69, Mikan 188)

The official title of this collection is "Royal Commission to Investigate Complaints of Canadian Citizens of Japanese Origin who Resided in British Columbia in 1941, That Their Real and Personal Property had been Disposed of by the Custodian of Enemy Property at Prices Less than the Fair Market Value fonds (Bird Commission)"

Fonds consists of individual claim files (volumes 1 to 74), transcripts of hearings, withdrawn and rejected claims, and a memorandum entitled "Appendix III, Fair Market Value," legal arguments and related material.

The Claims Commission Case Files are indexed in Archives Search. Select "Finding Aid number" and enter "33-62".  Select "Any Keyword" and enter a person's name. The case files are not digitized.  Once you have the reference (volume and file number), you can order a copy.

Department of External Affairs collection (RG25, 1980-119, box 05836) (Mikan 13012)

Photograph album, Japanese internment camps in the Kootenays, British Columbia.

Japanese Canadian Citizens Association, 1884–1975 (MG28-V7/ R3135-0-0-E) (Mikan 100580)

The Japanese Canadian Citizens Association (JCCA) was formed in 1947 primarily to assist people with claims before the Royal Commission of Japanese Property Losses (Bird Commission) and to fight against discriminatory laws. The fonds consists of records of the JCCA and documents of business operations. It also contains briefs, files, literature, accounts and historical notes.

Japanese Canadians collection, 1910–1973 (MG28-V73/ R4000-0-0-E) (Mikan 100740)

The Japanese Canadians collection includes various smaller groups of records from many donors. The fonds consists of documents, clippings, interviews, reports, issues, newspapers and photographs.

Muriel Kitagawa, 1912-1974, (MG31-E26, R5222-0-X-E, Mikan 103713)

Muriel Kitagawa, née Fujiwara, born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1912, was an activist campaigner on behalf of Japanese Canadian' civil rights and worked on various committees of the Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association. The fonds consists of personal papers, articles and materials concerning the rights of Japanese Canadian Citizens.

Keitaro Matsubara, 1942–1969 (MG31-H96/ R4103) (Mikan 101749)

Keitaro Matsubara immigrated to Canada in 1907 and settled in British Columbia. First, he worked as a merchant, and later became a clergyman with the United Church of Canada. He was interned in 1942 in Holmwood, Manitoba. The fonds consists of diaries, photographs, certificates and documents.

Masajiro Miyazaki, 1926–1975 (MG31-H63/ R3948-0-3-E) (Mikan 102358)

Masajiro Miyazaki emigrated from Japan and lived in British Columbia. He worked as a surgeon, until he was interned in 1942. The fonds consists of draft memoirs and correspondence, statistics and surveys, memoranda, lists, notes, clippings, reports and photographs.

Roger Obata, 1915-2002 (R9332-0-7-E, Mikan 192212)

Born in British Columbia, Roger Obata was the founding President of the first national Japanese Canadian organization in Canada called the National Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association whose main purpose was to seek redress from the Canadian government for the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Fonds consists of records relating to the Japanese Canadian Citizens Association, Japanese Canadian Centennial Society, National Odori project, Toronto Branch of the National Association of Japanese Canadians, Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and the Redress Campaign. Records include correspondence, reports, draft manuscripts, news clippings and publications

Mitsuru Shimpo, 1971 (R5786-0-3-E) (Mikan 181297)

Mitsuru Shimpo emigrated from Japan in 1962. Shimpo authored a number of books that focus on the sociological aspects of Aboriginal experiences in Canada, and Japanese Canadian internment. The fonds consists of oral history interviews and recordings of discussions  about Japanese-Canadians (including a round table discussion with first generation Issei) about the riots at Powell Street in 1907, First World War veterans, Japanese immigration in the 1920s and 1930s and Second World War internment camps.

Thomas K. Shoyama 1920–2000 (R10881-0-7-E) (Mikan 205229)

Born in British Columbia, Thomas K. Shoyama published a newspaper before he was interned during the Second World War. He was part of the Intelligence Corps of the Canadian Army for a brief time in 1945. After the war, he occupied many government positions including Deputy Minister of Finance, and taught at universities. The fonds consists of correspondence, reports, speeches, memoranda, honorary degrees, awards, circulars, clippings,photographs and drawings.

M. Grace Tucker, 1942–1968 (Manuscript Group 30, D200, R6611-0-0-E, Mikan 103195)

Grace Tucker emigrated from England in 1905. She was a welfare worker who worked with the Japanese Canadian internees during the Second World War. Working with the Anglican Church at the end of the war, she helped with the resettlement of Japanese Canadians. The fonds consists of correspondence, petitions, notices, minutes, agendas, news bulletins, articles, memoranda, forms, pamphlets and photographs.

Other resources at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada holds other records pertaining to Japanese Canadians. Consult the Archives Search database using keywords such as a surname or an organization name.

See also:

Censuses

Genealogy and family history

Passenger lists

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