– They’re still there.
Dad says, nodding at a dry cleaner’s near the Oak Bay Junction. The sign reads: Established in 1946.
– It belonged to a Japanese family before they took them away.
He’s talking about the Japanese Canadian internment during the Second World War.
– It was an excuse for some people to steal their boats and property. They got it all for practically nothing. They became millionaires from it.
– None of them ever came back to Victoria or Salt Spring Island.
Some returned to BC though.
– Uncle Oli had the Cannery at North Pacific. He hired them all back.
– Him and his son, Jerry, both spoke Japanese.
In those days, they didn’t have refrigeration so they had to can right away.
– There was nine canneries on the river.
Oli went to work at the North Pacific when he was sixteen. The owner made him his protégé and gave him a partnership. When he died, he left the Cannery to Oli.
– That was the last Cannery on the Skeena River.
Oli turned it into a museum.
On Thursday at four o’clock, I put my computer on Dad’s lap for his weekly Skype date with Kristin in Japan.
– At his funeral, there was a whole line up of Japanese people.
He says, telling her about Oli.
– Very interesting to meet them. They all bow to each other.
Kristin tells him about her life in Japan.
Dad remembers Pat Tanaka.
– She was the most beautiful little girl in the world when I was in Grade One. She was just like a Kewpie doll.
– My eyes would go like saucers when I saw her.
Dad asked her cousin, John, if she was around. When John told her what Dad had said, she replied,
– I don’t really remember him but he must have been a handsome, young boy.
Dad is happy after he Skypes Kristin.
– She’s found her niche.
– Children were always her forte.
He’s proud of her.
– When am I stryping with Kristin next?