Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The historic place consists of a collection of what were known as self- supporting internment sites created through a special program established by the BC Security Commission. The Bridge River, McGillivray Falls, Minto Mine and East Lillooet sites are located together in the Lillooet Land District of B.C., and were accessible by the Pacific Great Eastern Railway from Squamish. Taylor Lake is located near 100 Mile House in B.C.'s interior, while Calhoun Farm is located near Tappen, on Shuswap Lake between Salmon Arm and Kamloops.
The collection of self-supporting Japanese internment sites or camps together have historic, aesthetic, cultural and spiritual value because they are an enduring record of Japanese Canadian internment in B.C. between 1942 and 1945, because of their unique organization and operation which made them different from other internment sites, and for the individual history and nature of each site.
Together, the self-supporting internment sites are significant because of their organization, unique to these places, through which family groups who had the financial ability to support themselves, or were able to leave the Protected Area before the deadline of April 1, 1942, became part of the category of self-supporting families and could live and work in these selected internment sites.
While still considered enemy aliens by the government and living in poor conditions, internees in self-supporting camps paid for their relocation to these sites that provided a less restrictive, less punitive environment, and where they were able to work, operate shops and businesses and place their children in school.
The different social and economic contexts and types of accommodation at the self-supporting sites are important because they illustrate both the fortitude and resiliency of the internees, and the complexity and diversity of the internment camp system.
Originally built in the 1920s, Bridge River is associated with gold mining and the construction of the Bridge River hydroelectric project, and Japanese Canadians were housed in abandoned workers' barracks. At McGillivray Falls, located just outside the 100-mile protected area, internees were hired to work at a local sawmill near D'Arcy, inside the protected area.
In East Lillooet, Japanese Canadians self-organized the Lillooet Japanese Self Supporting Community, and suffered hardship during the construction and occupation of un-insulated tar paper shacks, the isolation of the place and the lack of work. Calhoun Farm represents the independent settlement of Japanese-Canadians in the Shuswap area of B.C., where internees worked on the farm of Henry and Hilda Calhoun, a cooperative effort that helped alleviate the lack of farm labourers during World War II. Minto was a semi-abandoned mine site, while accommodation at the logging camp at Taylor Lake consisted of bunkhouses and a cookhouse, with internees employed by the local pulp and paper company.
While life at the self-supporting sites was one of profound hardship, at many of these sites vegetable and flower gardens, schools, tea preparation, food production, bathhouses, baseball games and other signifiers embodied Japanese Canadian life and culture during the period of internment.
Like all internment sites, the self-supporting sites evoke the hardships, memories and stories of the Japanese Canadians who lived there, assisting with the education and understanding about what happened in British Columbia during World War II. Recognition of each internment site acknowledges Japanese Canadian struggles, tenacity and resilience in the face of racism, discrimination and dispossession.
Province of British Columbia
Heritage Conservation Act, s.18
Provincially Recognized Heritage Site (Recognized)
1942/01/01 to 1945/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Military and Defence
Function - Category and Type
- Group Residence
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Province of British Columbia, Heritage Branch
Cross-Reference to Collection