Arrival in Southern Alberta

photograph of people with crates, trunks, bags beside railway car with tall grain elevator in background

Japanese Canadian evacuees arriving in Picture Butte, north-west of Lethbridge, Alberta, 1942
Galt Museum & Archives 19790283009

“There were crowds of people, farmers and newsmen. We tried to hide and avoid having our pictures taken. Wagons, horses and tractors waited to take us. It was like some slave trading market. We were terrified, not knowing where we were going. Some of us didn’t want to move. Women were crying. The farmers hurried us…”

Mr. and Mrs. Eiji Tashiro

The evacuation of Japanese from the interior of British Columbia to the beet farms of southern Alberta began in April 1942. By the first week of June about 370 families had arrived. They were sent to work on beet farms in areas around Picture Butte, Coalhurst, Diamond City, Coaldale, Raymond and Magrath.

By 1945, 65% of beet labourers were evacuees and therefore an almost indispensable work force in the province.