Skip to content

New Maple Ridge Museum exhibit explores horrific treatment of Japanese Canadians

This is the 80th anniversary of the internment of Japanese Canadians in World War II
The What Was Taken exhibit for the Maple Ridge Museum was created with the help of the Yoshizawa family and the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre. (Maple Ridge Museum/Special to The News)

A new exhibit has arrived at the Maple Ridge Museum that explores a dark part of our country’s history.

The temporary exhibit titled What Was Taken: The Forced Dispersal of Japanese Canadians in Maple Ridge was unveiled on Oct. 27 and brings to light some of the hardships that local Japanese Canadians faced during the Second World War.

RELATED: Event marks 80th anniversary of Japanese Canadian internment which revived Greenwood

This is a topic that many Canadians might not know much about, which is why Maple Ridge Museum curator Melissa Rollit created this exhibit with the help of archivist Gordana Dimovska.

“In 1942, the Canadian government ordered the forced dispersal of all Japanese Canadians who were living within 100 miles of the coast, including those in Maple Ridge,” explained Rollit.

“They were sent to internment camps in the B.C. interior and further east. Their homes, properties, and personal belongings were sold without their consent for a fraction of the value, making their dreams of a future in Maple Ridge unimaginable.”

RELATED: B.C. commits $100 million to support Japanese Canadians interned in World War II

Helping bring attention to this issue is something that Rollit is very passionate about.

“The exhibition offers visitors the chance to learn about a dark period of our history and reflect on its legacy and impact today,” she said.

In terms of what can be found in this exhibit, Rollit explained that it contains a wide variety of historical items.

“The exhibit includes both material and archival collections from the Maple Ridge Museum and Community Archives, with each out on display,” said Rollit. “The exhibition shares the history of Maple Ridge’s Japanese Canadian community through objects, historical images, and the stories of various Japanese Canadian families.”

Among these local Japanese Canadian families is Alicia and the Yoshizawa family, who loaned their personal collection to the exhibit.

The What Was Taken exhibit can be seen at the Maple Ridge Museum until June 11, 2023. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays to Sundays, with more information being available at

RELATED: See the strange side of history at Maple Ridge Museum’s new exhibit

Have a story tip? Email:
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Brandon Tucker

About the Author: Brandon Tucker

I have been a journalist since 2013, with much of my career spent covering sports and entertainment stories in Alberta.
Read more