Plaque – Surviving in the Livestock Building



Surviving in the Livestock Building

The Livestock Building housed Japanese Canadian women, children and babies. Families were separated, husbands were sent to distant road camps, and other men and boys stayed in different buildings. The washroom facilities were crude, with waste flowing through open troughs. Everyone experienced fear and anxiety as they faced life in these filthy conditions.

They took me to a stall, a stall for animals, and there was this young mother. She couldn’t understand English... She was crying and crying; she was beside herself, in a panic. They had taken her kids from her... It was like she was all alone in the world. – Shoichi Matsushita

I guess there were about 3,000 of us in there. It was a really big building, but it smelled. And at night! There was always so much noise! It would never quiet down... Really Hastings Park was just terrible at the start. – Utaye Shimasaki


Vancouver Public Library 14920

What a shock we received when we were taken to Hastings Park. Some buildings that usually stocked exhibit animals had been converted to living quarters for us. There were rows on rows of wooden frame double bunks. - Rose Baba

Nikkei National Museum 1994.69.3.20

Women hung blankets and sheets between the animal stalls for a bit of privacy. Each livestock stall needed a thorough washing to remove all traces of feces and maggots.


Nikkei National Museum 1994.69.3.29

Mattresses were thin, scratchy and uncomfortable, made onsite using ticking filled with straw. Each person received two rough grey army blankets for warmth.


Nikkei National Museum 1994.69.3.28

Japanese Canadian women were forced to use primitive laundry facilities, and struggled to clothe and care for their children while separated from their husbands.


Nikkei National Museum 1994.69.4.29

After September 1942, large numbers of people were sent by train to camps in the BC interior. In order to stay together, some families went to the sugar beet projects in Alberta or Manitoba.