Skip to main content

From Exiles to Excellence

Japanese woman and young girl looking at a Japanese doll in traditional dress

Japanese woman and girl with a Japanese doll, n.d.

Japanese Cultural Society of St. Catharines

In the 1970s, an interest in community history grew among the fragmented Japanese Canadian communities dispersed across Canada. While Nipponia Home provided a cultural context for elders, it was the formation of the Japanese Cultural Society of St. Catharines (JCSSC) in 1976 that the Niagara Region’s Japanese Canadian community began forging a common identity.

Hattie Tanouye also stayed in the Niagara Region since her arrival as a single mother in 1945. Hattie was an early supporter of the Japanese Cultural Society of St. Catharines founded in 1976.

Hattie Tanouye in 1998

Hattie Tanouye, c. 1998

She later became its President. In 1996 at age 79, she looked back on her life:

I think that if relocation had never taken place my first husband would have never died. It was a hardship. There are a lot of “ifs” in a person’s life, but for all the hardship I feel I am a better person for it.


The 1970s also saw early community leaders such as Takaichi Umezuki, Tsutae Sato, Hide Hyodo Shimizu, and Thomas Shoyama become recipients of the Order of Canada. Later, in Ontario, many nisei and older sansei achieved success in many fields, including writer Joy Kogawa, the CBC’s first female Vice-President, Keiko Margaret Lyons, Architect, Raymond Moriyama, and scientists Irene Uchida and David Suzuki.

The 1936 Scrapbook from Hide Hodo Shimizu (captions available in English and French). View video with English transcripts.