Tashme was Canada’s largest of 10 Internment camps and 7 official self-supporting sites Japanese Canadians were forcibly relocated to during WWII.
The declaration of war on Japan on December 8th, 1941 unleashed a series of events that would forever change the lives of Japanese Canadians. Despite reports from the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP stating that there was no perceived security threat from the Japanese Canadian community, the Canadian government took drastic actions. Curfews were imposed, Japanese language schools and newspapers were closed and Japanese Canadian community leaders were detained. Privately owned homes, businesses, vehicles, and fishing boats were seized. As a national security measure, the government established a 100 mile (160 km) ‘exclusion zone’ area inland from the coast of British Columbia. All persons of Japanese ancestry, almost all of the 23,000 Japanese Canadians living in Canada at the time, were forcibly removed from the ‘exclusion zone’ and sent to hastily constructed internment camps in the BC interior, to sugar beet farms in Alberta and Manitoba or to road camps throughout BC.
Tashme was established on a privately owned dairy farm 14 miles east of Hope, located in an isolated narrow valley and surrounded by high mountains. 347 crude shiplap tar-paper covered houses, often called “shacks”, were hastily constructed. Each house measured 16 feet x 24 feet with no running water, electricity, or insulation. Existing barns were renovated and converted into living quarters, schools, churches, and a butcher shop. Also constructed were a general store, bakery, post office, mess hall, RCMP detachment, fire station, power station, an administration office, and a 50 bed fully equipped hospital. Tashme was a primitive yet thriving community with amenities of a small village and home to 2644 persons at its peak from September 1942 until it was closed and dismantled in October 1946.
The name, “Tashme”, was created by taking the first two letters of the last names of three government BC Security Commission officers: Austin T. TAylor, John SHirras, Frederick J. MEad. The Security Commission was the main government agency that planned and administrated the Internment and Dispossession
In August 2016, to honour and share the story of Tashme, the Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum was established in the original Tashme butcher shop. With 2000 square feet of exhibit area, artifacts and displays, it also showcases a historic replica “shack” which brings you back to the time of Tashme for an authentic look into daily life.
Japanese Canadian History
Located 19 km East of Hope, BC on the #3 Hope-Princeton Crowsnest Highway. Follow directional signage to the museum from the front entrance of Sunshine Valley.
Tashme – Canada’s largest Japanese Canadian internment camp during WWII.
Until Mr. Ellan established this museum in 2016, there appeared to be a conscious decision by former community leaders not to acknowledge the history of this area. The current collection is incredible and reconciles the “untold” story with the physical landscape.