ロスベイ墓地に眠る日本人移民先駆者たち

[For English Version, please click here]

このページでは1880年代から1920年代にかけてビクトリアに移住してこられた初期日本人移民とその子どもたちが眠る日本人墓地をご紹介します。

カナダへの日本人の移住が本格化したのは1880年代の後半です。当時,バンクーバーはまだ港が整備されておらず,日本からの移住者はビクトリアに上陸しました。日本人移民は主に漁業,林業・製材業,炭坑労働などに従事しましたが,低賃金の過酷な労働,貧困,医療水準の低さなどから若くして亡くなる方も多く,また乳幼児の死亡率も高かったようです。死亡した日本人はビクトリアにあるロスベイ墓地(Ross Bay Cemetery)に埋葬されました。当時は人種的偏見が強く,白人は墓地の中央部に埋葬されましたが,日本人や中国人は海岸に近い南端部に埋葬されました。

1941年に太平洋戦争が起きて日本はカナダの敵対国となりましたが,カナダ国内に居住する日本人移民の中でも特に太平洋岸近郊に居住する人々は,カナダ政府が行った強制移住政策によりカナダの内陸部・東部へ移住させられ,キャンプでの抑留生活を余儀なくされました。ビクトリアに住む日本人移民も全員が移住させられましたので,ロスベイ墓地に埋葬された死者の家族(配偶者,親,子,きょうだい)はビクトリアには誰もいなくなりました。また,強制移住させられた日本人移民は家財すべてが没収されてしまったことから,戦争後もビクトリアに戻ることができませんでした。

死者の墓を守るひとが誰もいなくなり,また海岸沿いの日本人墓地は大波による海岸浸食で多数の墓標や遺骨が流されるなどしたこともあり,初期日本人移民の墓の多くが埋葬された場所も分からなくなるほど荒れ果ててしまいました。

戦争後,ロスベイ墓地の日本人の墓のことは人々から忘れ去られていましたが,1990年代になり新たにビクトリアに移住してきた日本人移民や日系2世がその存在に気づくようになりました。荒れ果てた日本人移民先駆者たちの墓の惨状は見るに忍びないと有志が集まり「懸け橋の会」を設立し,日本人埋葬者の名簿作成と墓標の再建・整備が始まりました。右の写真は再建・整備前の,土に半分埋もれた墓標です。

架け橋の会の方々の献身的努力のおかげで,ほとんどの日本人埋葬者が判明し,当初の埋葬位置に墓標が再建されました。しかし,ロスベイ墓地が保有する埋葬者原簿が英語表記であるため,日本人名を正確に反映していないものもあります。そのため,現在でも埋葬者名や埋葬位置の確認と墓標の再建・整備が行われています。また,毎年8月にはビクトリア在住の日系──日本人および日系カナダ人──によるお盆慰霊祭が行われ,日本人移民先駆者の方々の霊を慰めています。

現在判明している日本人埋葬者の名簿および現存する全墓標の写真をアップロードいたしましたので,関心のある方はどうぞご覧ください。特に,皆さまのご先祖やご親類の方々の中に1880年代から1930年代にかけて(明治・大正の頃に)カナダに移民された方がおられる場合は,ぜひとも名簿をご覧いただけると幸いです。もし名簿の中に縁者あるいはお知り合いの方のお名前がありましたら,墓標写真をご覧いただき,その方のことを思い浮かべるとともにご冥福をお祈りいただけると誠にありがたく存じます。

【アップロード済み関連資料】

ロスベイ墓地に現存する日本人移民埋葬者の全墓標の写真です

ロスベイ墓地の日本人埋葬者のさらなる詳細は以下の記事に記されています

墓地再建を行った「懸け橋の会」関連の資料です

架け橋の会キャンペーン趣意書(1987年) [PDF 361KB]

バンクーバー新報1998年10月8日掲載記事「ロスベイのお墓は語る」 [PDF 1.3 MB]

謝辞

本ページを作成するにあたり,架け橋の会代表の荒川佳朗氏より各種資料と再建前の墓標写真を拝借いたしました。ここに厚く御礼申し上げます

埋葬者名簿は JCCO Victoria がロスベイ墓地において実地調査を行い作成しました。調査にあたり懸け橋の会の資料ならびにロスベイ墓地日本人埋葬者の研究をされているGordon and Ann-Lee Switzer氏が収集されたデータ (「The Stories of Victoria’s Japanese Pioneers」2007 The Old Cemeteries Society)を使わせていただきました。ここに謹んでお礼申し上げます

本ページに関するお問い合せはwebinfo@jccovictoria.caまでお願いします。

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Japanese Pioneer Immigrants resting in Ross Bay Cemetery

kakehashi monument

In this section, we would like to tell you a little about the Ross Bay Cemetery grave sites of the Japanese pioneers of Victoria, as well as their children. These early Japanese people migrated to Victoria between the 1880s to the 1920s.

In the latter half of 1880s, the migration of Japanese people to Canada increased notably and, since in those days, there was no well-equipped port in Vancouver, the immigrants from Japan landed at Victoria. Japanese immigrants were employed mainly in the fishery, in the forestry/lumber industry or as coal mine labourers. Due to the low-wages and harsh work conditions as well as the poor quality of available nutrition and medical services, a lot of early Japanese-Canadians died young. The mortality rate of infants and young children in the Japanese community was also quite high.

When they died, members of Victoria’s early Japanese community were buried, like many other pioneers, in Ross Bay Cemetery. Because of the strongly held prejudicial racial attitudes of those days, white Caucasians were buried in the central area of the graveyard, but Japanese and Chinese people were only allowed to be buried in the southernmost part of the cemetery close to the shore of Ross Bay.

When the Pacific theatre of WW II opened up in 1941, Japan became one of Canada's enemy nations, joining the other members of the WW II Axis. The government of Prime Minister William Lyon McKenzie King took the attitude that all those of Japanese heritage in Canada were now essentially enemy aliens. As a result, those Japanese in Canada who resided near the Pacific coast were forced to move to the interior or eastern part of the country by the Canadian government's relocation plan and they were imprisoned in detention camps. Because all those of Japanese heritage who lived in Victoria were forced to move, including second and third generation Japanese-Canadians, no family members such as a spouse, parent, child, brother or sister of Japanese people buried in the Ross Bay Cemetery could remain in Victoria. To make it even more miserable for the detainees, all the property of the Japanese who were forced to leave was confiscated by the government and this was a major contributing factor to none of them returning to Victoria after the war.

No Japanese community was left in Victoria which could take care of the graves of those who had passed away. Furthermore, a large number of grave posts and ashes of Japanese people buried along the seashore were shifted by erosion due to heavy storm waves. Hence, in the decades following the war, most of the graves of Japanese pioneers were damaged, and their original positions in the graveyard became unclear.fallen gravestone

After the war, the Japanese graves in Ross Bay Cemetery faded from people's memory until the 1990s, when a few Japanese immigrants and Nikkei Nisei (second generation) who moved to Victoria after the war realized that there were, indeed, some Japanese graves at Ross Bay. Volunteers who were deeply saddened by the atrocious condition of the graves of Japanese pioneers in Ross Bay Cemetery eventually came together to establish the Kakehashi Society (Kakehashi means a bridge) and started to make a list of the Japanese people buried in the cemetery, as well as to restore and reorganize the gravestones. The photos, right, show examples of dilapidated gravestone before restoration.

Owing to the dedicated volunteer efforts of the Kakehashi Society, the locations of most of the Japanese graves have been ascertained, and gravestones have been restored to their original positions. However, since the grave register book of the Ross Bay Cemetery is written in English, some records do not correctly reflect Japanese names. Therefore, investigation of those people of Japanese heritage buried in Ross Bay Cemetery and the restoration and reorganization of gravestones is still on-going.

Victoria's Japanese pioneers are further memorialized every summer. In order to pray for the peace and repose of the souls of all the Japanese pioneer immigrants of Victoria, an Obon memorial ceremony is held by the Nikkei (both first, and subsequent generation, Japanese- Canadian) community every year in August.

The list of Japanese people buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, ascertained so far, and the photos of all the existing gravestones have been uploaded to the relevant linked pages, for your interest.

If you have an ancestor or a relative who immigrated to Canada from the 1880s to the 1920s (during the Meiji and Taisho eras in Japan), please take the opportunity to review the name list carefully. If you find a name which may be your ancestor or relative, please look at the photo of the gravestone and think contemplatively of that person, praying for peaceful rest for him or her.

<<Uploaded Relevant Materials>>

The name, age at death, date of death/burial, etc. of Japanese pioneer immigrants ascertained so fa are listed below.

The Gatalogue of Japanese Pioneer Immigrants in Ross Bay Cemetery, 2010 [176 KB]

The photos of all the existing grave markers of Japanese immigrants in Ross Bay Cemetery

Further details of the Japanese graves in Ross Bay Cemetery are discussed in the following articles.

"Ross Bay Cemetery and the Nikkei Community, Part I"[PDF 330KB] (to be uploaded soon)

"Ross Bay Cemetery and the Nikkei Community, Part I"[PDF 330KB] (to be uploaded soon)

"Ross Bay Cemetery and the Nikkei Community, Part I" [PDF 330KB] (to be uploaded soon)

Materials related to the Kakehashi Society which organized the grave restoration

Kakehashi Society Campaign Letter [PDF 222KB]

"Monologue of Graves at Ross Bay Cemetery", Vancouver Shinpo, 8th Oct. 1998 (in Japanese) [PDF 1.3MB]

Acknowledgement

The photos of gravestones before restoration were provided by Yoshiro Arakawa, the chairperson of the Kakehashi Society.The list of Japanese graves in Ross Bay Cemetery has been prepared based on our field researches made at Ross Bay Cemetery, using the data collected by the Kakehashi Society and the data collected by Gordon and Ann-Lee Switzer (The Stories of Victoria’s Japanese Pioneers, 2007, The Old Cemeteries Society). We would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for their extraordinary effort in this area.

If you have any question, please contact us at webinfo@jccovictoria.ca

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