Yosh’s family were all Canadian-born or naturalized citizens. They didn’t think at first that everyone would be forced off the west coast. It was a shock and happened very quickly after Pearl Harbor. The government first indicated that the move would be short and they would be able to move back. And they would get back their belongings.
But everything we had, [the government] went and sold it. Even the car. They were supposed to give it back to us. But no way. By early 1943, they sold it.
Yosh’s dad wanted the family to stay together. Otherwise, Yosh’s mom and five younger siblings would have been sent to one camp while Yosh and his 55-year-old dad would have been sent to work at separate road camps. Yosh’s dad, Kozo, had a friend in Vernon who offered the family the use of a spare house there but the BC Security Commission would not allow them to move to Vernon. Eventually, Kozo arranged for them to go to Sunnyside Farm, a self-supporting community outside Grand Forks, They went directly to Grand Forks without having to stay in Hastings Park. The family left Vancouver the day before Yosh was supposed to report for road camp.
We’re the first ones to go in there. We were supposed to go up near Vernon because a good friend of my dad’s from before he was married [lived there]. We couldn’t go there…. Nobody could get in there. We looked all over and finally went to Grand Forks. But we couldn’t live in town. We were five miles out of town.
Yosh and his dad had to sign documents saying that the family would never be a burden on the government regardless of whether they became sick or if anything else happened to them.
Grand Forks was a former mining town. People were still living there even after the mine closed. Yosh describes it as “a real hick town.” His dad knew the druggist there who had worked with him at Anyox more than 20 years earlier.
There were a number of Japanese Canadian (JC) families living in a large, three-storey house five miles outside of Grand Forks. The shack that the Arai family moved to was situated on the same property. There was a total of about 300 JCs in that area. Most were fishermen, some from as far away as Prince Rupert. Some eventually moved to Greenwood and others to the Toronto and Hamilton areas.
Even though the family had to move quickly from Vancouver, Yosh’s father was able to send supplies like rice to Grand Forks. They also were able to save family treasures like photographs and letters. Their good friend, Mr. Reid, temporarily rented their East 10th Avenue property. He was able to send items to the Arai’s in Grand Forks.
While in Grand Forks, Yosh worked in a sawmill at Carmi about 80 miles from Grand Forks for about 3.5 years.
I had never worked in a sawmill. Everybody laughed at me. I didn’t know what to do.
He also earned extra pay as a first aide attendant first at the sawmill then later in Grand Forks and even when he returned to Vancouver. He earned an additional $15 a month on top of his regular salary when he was trying to establish his import/export business after the war.
They lived in Grand Forks until they were allowed to return to Vancouver in 1949.