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Japanese Canadian Photographers

News / Events / Exhibitions


November, 2005

Shashin exhibition on the move

Since closing at the Maltwood Art Museum, the Shashin exhibition has had very successful showings at the Langley Centennial Museum in Fort Langley, BC (June 30-Sept. 25), and the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Kamloops, BC (Oct. 5-Nov. 15). It will open in December at the Gendai Gallery at the Toronto Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre


June 21, 2005

Shashin Book Launch at the Japanese Canadian National Museum

Tuesday, June 21, 2005, 7:00 PM, National Nikkei Heritage Centre

  Contributors Phyllis Senese, Imogene Lim, Grace Eiko Thomson and Jim Wolf join special guest Bill Jeffries to launch the new publication Shashin: Japanese Canadian Studio Photography to 1942 . Based on the Japanese Canadian National Museum's touring exhibition of the same name, the book brings together rare photographs and insight into the work of Japanese Canadian studio photographers depicting the vibrant pre-war communities in Cumberland, Vancouver and New Westminster.

Updated April 27, 2005

Exhibition at the Maltwood Art Museum, April 21 - June 22, 2005

What happens when photographs are lost and all that is left are fading memories?

In the mid-1970s, Japanese Canadians began gathering memories, stories, and archival materials to reconstitute their history. The aim of this exhibition is to contribute to this effort by recognizing the pioneer work of Japanese Canadian photographers, and to raise questions regarding the value of photographs.

Among the eighty photographs chosen for this exhibition are prints made from more than 800 dry glass negatives `found’ in Cumberland, on Vancouver Island. They are from the studio of Messrs. Hayashi, Kitamura and Matsubuchi (1913-1932), and represent the residents of this coal mining town. In contrast, the photographs taken by the studio of P.L. Okamura (1902-1937), of New Westminster, are largely portraits of the town’s elite and of civic events, as Mr. Okamura held a respected position in the community, as Professor of Drawing, at the Oblats’ St. Louis College, since 1893. Son of a Japanese nobility, he came to Canada with education from Japan’s newly established Technical Fine Arts School, in Tokyo, which hired Western masters to teach arts and science.

While these two studios drew their clientele from the community in which they served, the seven studios, located in Vancouver, served the Japanese immigrant communities, in Vancouver (Japan Town), Steveston, and the Fraser Valley, and their photographs document occupations, social events, and interest groups. Noteworthy amongst the Vancouver photographers is Shuzo Fujiwara (1910-1941), who studied with a famous Japanese professional photographer, Hikoma Uyeno (1838-1904), in Nagasaki, before emigrating. Mr. Fujiwara and Mr. Okamura, two early photographers to Canada, educated in Japan, may be said to have influenced the quality and style of the development of early Japanese Canadian studio photography.

An exhibition catalogue will soon be available, and material for a museum education resource kit to be used in BC schools' social studies and arts curricula is also being developed.

Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, from 1:00 – 3:20 p.m., University Centre, Room A180
Admission is free.

Assimilation and exclusion, the role of Japanese Canadian photographers in Canadian society, and the value of photographs in reconstituting community stories are just some of the issues being explored during an afternoon symposium at UVic, which is open to the public.


1:00 pm Martin Segger, Director, Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery
Welcome and Introductions

1:10-1:40 Dr. Patricia Roy, Department of History, University of Victoria
"Why They Came and What They Met: Early Japanese Immigrants to British Columbia"

1:40-2:10 Grace Thomson, Curator, Shashin exhibit
"Japanese Canadian Studio Photography to 1942: the importance of these historic collections"

2:10-2:20 break

2:20-2:50 Professor Imogene Lim, Malaspina College
"A Place Called Home: Women and Families in Cumberland"

2:50-3:20 Dr. Midge Ayukawa, Independent scholar
"The Japanese Canadians—The First Half Century: a brief history of the society depicted in the "Shashin" photographs"

3:30 Grace Thomson, exhibit curator, will provide a tour of the exhibit



July 22, 2004

Student receives award

Co-op student Erin Coulson, who spent work terms researching a Japanese photographer in Cumberland, was awarded the Victoria Medal during Spring Convocation.

Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues
University of British Columbia


May 1-3, 2003

BC Studies Conference

Grace Thomson gave a paper on “Photographic Evidence: Cumberland's Japanese Canadian Legacy,” at the BC Studies Conference, Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues, University of British Columbia, May 1-3, 2003.

  May 1-3, 2003

BC Studies Conference

Grace Thomson gave a paper on “Photographic Evidence: Cumberland's Japanese Canadian Legacy,” at the BC Studies Conference, Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues, University of British Columbia, May 1-3, 2003.

  Aug. 22–24, 2002
Changing Japanese Identities in Multicultural Canada Conference

Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives
University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.

Panel 25: Early Entrepreneurs and Artists - Chair, Barbara Winters

Grace Eiko Thomson gave a paper on: "Photographic Evidence: Cumberland Museum’s Collection of Glass Negatives."

Jim Wolf gave a paper on "Japanese-Canadian Photographer: Paul Louis (Tsunenjo) Okamura, 1865-1937."

  March 16, 2001
Public Stories: Museums, Audiences, Narrative.

Humanities Centre Conference
University of Victoria Victoria, BC.

Grace Eiko Thomson gave a presentation on: "Memories, Stories, and Making History."

  Mar. 1-2, 2002
Untold Stories of British Columbia

Co-hosted by the CURA Program, the University of Victoria Humanities Centre, the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery and the Royal British Columbia Museum, this public conference brought to light some of the many untold stories of British Columbia.

A total of 11 guest speakers from universities and cultural institutions across Canada provided participants with a glimpse of history by presenting various topics related to the past and present of BC communities.

One of the guest speakers was Grace Eiko Thomson who gave a presentation on the CURA Japanese Canadian photography project entitled “Photographic Evidence: What is Given to be Read?”

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