On February 24, 1942, the government of Mackenzie King approved a measure to evacuate of persons of Japanese ancestry from the coastal areas of British Columbia. Pressure had been building for this action against the Japanese community in B.C. since the bombing of Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941. There had been a history of discrimination against immigrants of many communities up to that point in Canada, but the Japanese were viewed with heightened suspicion. The wartime portrayals of the Japanese often evoked the image of sinister combatants with unsavoury tendencies, and this would feed a fear that the Japanese-Canadian community might be a source of anti-war activity.
With an acute shortage of farm labour in 1942, Mackenzie King's government granted Ontario $100,000 to assist in recruiting and placing farmer labourers, and this effort led to an arrangement where Nisei (2nd generation) males between eighteen and twenty-five years of age were offered the option of assisting with the summer harvest.
All levels of government were particularly interested in supporting the sugar beet harvest, a labour-intensive crop that supplied badly needed sugar for the war effort, and it was this crop that would determine the flow of Nisei towards Southwestern Ontario where sugar beet operations in the province were concentrated. In all, nine farm camps would be established in Ontario (see map below).
This site is dedicated to the hundreds of Nisei who worked as farm labourers while separated from their families, with a special thank you to the family as well as the incredible generosity and kindness of Yoshio (Yon) Shimizu (1924-2016), who was instrumental in telling this story.