Wedding portrait of Mankichi and Haruyo Eyemoto, 1911. (Maple Ridge Museum & Archives/Special to The News)

Wedding portrait of Mankichi and Haruyo Eyemoto, 1911. (Maple Ridge Museum & Archives/Special to The News)

LOOKING BACK: A historic love story with an unhappy ending

A couple’s romantic tale began in Japan, flourished in Maple Ridge, and later died back in Japan

by Melissa Rollit/Special to The News

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, this column tells of Maple Ridge residents Mankichi and Haruyo Eyemoto (Iyemoto), their beautiful love story and their tragic end.

Their story begins in Yamaguchi-ken, a prefecture in Japan, where both Mankichi Eyemoto and Haruyo (Harnyo) Muramoto were born.

As a young girl, Haruyo would often see Mankichi as he went about his business in town. At the age of six, she decided that he was the man she would marry.

Mankichi was 19 at the time and had dreams of moving to Canada in the search for better opportunities.

In 1904, he arrived in Pitt Meadows. He is believed to be the first Japanese Canadian farmer to arrive in the area.

Initially, he worked for a Hakujin (non-Japanese) farmer. He would later lease, then buy several acres of farmland in Hammond, where he found success as a berry farmer.

Seeing Mankichi’s strong work ethic, the Hakujin farmers asked him to recruit more workers for the strawberry picking season.

PAST COLUMNS – LOOKING BACK: Woman pioneer thrust into postal role and more

Through time, many young Japanese men from Yamaguchi-ken found their way to the area thanks to Eyemoto.

These workers would later lease their own acreage in Hammond, creating a community know to the Nikkei community as Yamaguchi-mura (translating roughly to Yamaguchi Village).

Meanwhile in Japan, Haruyo never forgot Mankichi. In the early 20th century, marriages were commonly arranged. Men would send pictures of themselves with a go-between to speak to the women of interest and her family.

If the women agreed, the marriage was arranged.

Although Haruyo received pictures of many potential suitors through the years, she would not have any of them.

She still hoped to hear from Mankichi, despite the distance and time passed. Her faith was well rewarded when one day a letter from Canada arrived with Mankichi expressing interest in marriage.

Haruyo made the arduous journey to B.C., and at long last they were wed in 1911.

The Eyemoto’s would spend many happy years together on their berry farm with their children.

Sadly, this happy period would not last.

In 1942, the Eyemoto family was removed from their home. They were sent to Manitoba to work as farm labourers during the Japanese Canadian Internment of the Second World War.

Japanese Canadians were forcibly removed from their homes and sent “back to Japan,” a place many of these Canadians had never been.

PREVIOUS COLUMN: LOOKING BACK – Sharing memories of winters past

Upon their departure, their assets were subsequently liquidated.

In 1946, the married couple were forced to return to Japan, bringing most of their children with them.

Their two eldest daughters made the hard decision to stay in Manitoba.

Not long after their arrival in a war-torn Japan, reeling from the fallout of the atomic bombings, both Mankichi and Haruyo passed away in 1948.

Their children would all be reunited in Winnipeg in 1949.

.

– Melissa Rollit is curator of the Maple Ridge Museum

.

_________________________

Heritagehistorymaple ridge

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Wedding portrait of Mankichi and Haruyo Eyemoto, 1911. (Maple Ridge Museum & Archives/Special to The News)
Melissa Rollit is the curator of the Maple Ridge Museum & Community Archives (Special to The News)

Wedding portrait of Mankichi and Haruyo Eyemoto, 1911. (Maple Ridge Museum & Archives/Special to The News) Melissa Rollit is the curator of the Maple Ridge Museum & Community Archives (Special to The News)

Just Posted

Bears are starting to come out of hibernation, coordinator of Maple Ridge division of WildSafeBC warns. (Ross Davies/Special to The News)
Bear sightings in Maple Ridge

Coordinator of WildSafeBC Maple Ridge warning residents to eliminate attractants

Karen Bolingbroke just recently moved to Maple Ridge and has done a bit of exploring. “This is a beautiful area and I’ve captured a few picutres at Cliff Falls.” (Special to The News)
SHARE: Maple Ridge resident explores Cliff Falls area

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Information for Phase Two of vaccinations to come out Monday, March 1 (Black Press Files)
Phase 2 vaccination information coming March 1

Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows Community Services committed to helping seniors get the jab

The WLA has released a summer schedule.
Maple Ridge Burrards announce lacrosse schedule

League has 12-game schedule to start in June, pending health orders lifting

One of 24 felines trapped and brought to Katie’s Place from a local business. (Magda Romanow/Special to The News)
Maple Ridge cat shelter turns 20

Katie’s Place has taken in thousands of felines among other small animals

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

“Our biggest challenge has been the amount of vaccine,” said FNHA acting chief medical officer Dr. Shannon McDonald. (First Nations Health Authority Facebook photo)
All First Nations on reserve to be vaccinated by end of March: First Nations Health Authority

Vaccinations continuing for B.C. First Nations amid shortages

(Delta Police Department photo)
B.C. youth calls 911 after accruing $7K in online gaming charges

‘Police spoke with the student about appropriate times to call 911’

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. NDP announces Site C will go ahead with new $16B budget

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The last three wild northern spotted owls live near the Spuzzum Watershed outside of Hope. The province recently ordered a halt to logging for at least a year to give the owls a chance to survive.  (Photo/Jared Hobbs)
Logging halted in northern spotted owl habitat near Hope

Halt will last at least a year, gives time to formulate survival plan for Northern Spotted Owl

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday morning due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay ferry sailing cancelled due to high winds, sea state

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

Most Read