WATCH: Latest Heritage Minute episode filmed near Hope and features some dark local history

Airing on Feb. 20, the 60-second film tells the story of the Asahi and features the Tashme Museum

Historica Canada’s latest Heritage Minute, which airs Wednesday, Feb. 20, features some very familiar scenery while telling the stories of the Asahi and the Japanese internment camps of the Second World War.

Created in 1914, the Asahi was an amateur baseball club based in Vancouver that featured an entirely Japanese Canadian roster.

“Due to racism, a lot of Japanese Canadians couldn’t join Caucasian teams in Vancouver, so they created their own team,” explained Ryan Ellan, founder of the Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum. “The best of the best played for them. They were probably the best team in Vancouver.”

RELATED: Canadian heritage minute on Asahi baseball team to film in Sunshine Valley Oct. 10

“On the streets we weren’t welcome, but on the field, we were the Asahi, Vancouver’s champions,” recalls Kaye Kaminishi, the last living member of the Asahi, in the new Heritage Minute.

Quickly championing a style of play called “brainball” that utilized bunts, squeeze plays, and stolen bases to counter the power hitting style of most known teams, the Asahi were known for their sportsmanship and fair play approach.

And for almost three decades the Asahi ran bases and scored home runs while touring Canada, the United States, and Japan, winning games and championships along the way.

But on December 7, 1941, Canada declared war on Japan, and everything changed. On February 24, 22,000 Japanese Canadians—14,000 of whom were born in the country—were uprooted from their homes and moved into internment camps, which was essentially a sentence of poverty and slave labour.

READ MORE: Japanese-Canadians who built Highway 3 forever remembered with Mile 9 sign

Of all internment camps in Canada, the largest was Tashme, which was located in what’s now known as Sunshine Valley, approximately 20 kilometres southeast of Hope. Over the course of four years, more than 2,600 Japanese were interned at Tashme, which spanned 1,200 acres of land.

Although separated in internment camps across the province, many Asahi members formed baseball teams, and eventually an inter-camp league. Many of those interned remember these games as a bright spot that helped bring joy into this dark period in Canadian history.

“But what a lot of people don’t know or forget is the section of highway from Princeton to Hope was made with Japanese slave labour during the Second World War. Most of Hope’s (current) Japanese families had members in Tashme,” continued Ellan.

“Historica Canada always picks these obscure pieces of history that we might not have been exposed to prior … (but) we’re not taught proper history and there are two sides to every story. So what I really like about this Asahi (Heritage Minute) is it’s a two-part story: the first 30 seconds explain the history of the Asahi, the second 30 seconds explain internment.”

READ MORE: Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum receives Heritage BC award

“Each Heritage Minute tells a different story,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, president and CEO of Historica Canada. “Some highlight the impressive achievements of Canadians and some encourage reflection on injustices of the past.”

To ensure the legitimacy and authenticity of the short film, Historica Canada hired Ellan as a Tashme historical consultant, and Grace Eiko Thomson, who previously worked for the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) and the Nikkei National Museum, as the costume designer.

“My role was to make sure the props, setup, vehicles being used were correct to Tashme,” explained Ellan. “During filming I asked … the director to give me a 10-minute break. I pulled out two original school benches and a bat that had been used in Tashme (to be used as props during filming). That brought quite a few tears to the cast and crew.”

Having had a sneak preview before the Asahi Heritage Minute aired for the first time, Ellan says the final product is “amazing.”

To view Historica Canada’s latest Heritage Minute, visit https://youtu.be/wBv-MYAf9P0.

For more information on the Tashme internment camp, visit Tashme.ca.


 

@SarahGawdin on Twitter
SarahGawdin on Instagram
Sarah.Gawdin@HopeStandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two new candidates for Chilliwack-Kent riding

B.C. NDP and B.C. Greens announce candidates to run against incumbent Throness

Sunny skies ahead for Fraser Valley this week

Rain and smoke nowhere in the forecast after weeks of weather alerts

Chilliwack seniors invited to drive-through breakfast

Event held to acknowledge the difficulty faced by Chilliwack seniors during pandemic

VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Blue at the Chilliwack SPCA

‘He’s a very laid back, easy-going guy, but still very active,’ says SPCA branch manager

Chilliwack hospice hosts candlelight walk for those who have lost loved ones during pandemic

People invited to ‘celebrate the life of your loved one’ at Illumination Walk

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read