|Mr Ukon Higuchi was the franchise owner of the M Furuya Company Limited, one of the largest Japanese Importers of Japanese food and products in Canada. It was located at 318-324 Powell Street in Vancouver, BC. Ukon was born in Shioda Mura, Ogata Nishi Gun, Nagano Ken, Japan. At the age of 21, he came to Canada in 1913, one of many business men who came from Nagano and Yamanishi areas in Japan. Ukon and Ko Higuchi had two sons, Abraham Sumio (Abe) 1926-2002 and Augustine (Gus) Hidenori 1927-1998. Ko Misakiya, a dressmaker from Ehime Ken, and Ukon married at the Japanese Mission at 500 Powell Street, Vancouver Oct 14, 1925. She had arrived June 22, 1923 as a domestic to join her sister Mrs. H. Yoshioka in Steveston. The Higuchis lived in a grand house in the area of Granville Street and thirteenth Avenue in Vancouver, BC. Abe and Gus both attended school in the area. The house was used for employees to live in as they came through from Japan. |
Furuya provided Japanese commodities to the remote fishing villages along the coastline of BC. The company was well known as the sole distributor of Kikoman Shoyu, Ajinomoto and some other name brands. The salesmen carried samples in a suitcase and went door to door, usually carrying something for the children. The ordered merchandise would be shipped the next day and would arrive on the next boat sailing to the remote areas.
The company expanded and their first branch store was in Mission, BC after the popular Mr Nishiyama's store in Mission burned down. This made it convenient for farmers, sawmill workers and loggers in the lower Fraser Valley.
In 1942, the Higuchis evacuated to Tashme, BC; the largest internment camp. They lived at house #101 on First Avenue; sharing it with another family. They did not stay long there, moving to Westbank BC; located on the west side of Kelowna. There, they were close to their only Canadian relatives; Rev. Yoshinosuke Yoshioka and Mrs Hisa Yoshioka and their two sons Rev Edward Yoshioka and Dr John Yoshioka. Rev Yoshioka was the minister of the Japanese United Church in Kelowna.
Augustine Hidenori (Gus) Higuchi, the son of Ukon and Ko Higuchi, was born on November 13, 1927. His family was interned at Tashme, BC during World War II. Augustine enrolled into the University Naval Training Division (UNTD) at the University of Guelph and later graduated from the University of British Columbia. He enlisted in the Canadian Naval Reserve at HMCS York in Toronto as a cadet-in-training and received his rank as Sub-Luitenant upon graduation. He would rise to the rank of Commander in 1968. Augustine then dedicated his life to public service. His profession was teaching and guidance counseling. He retired as a teacher and student counselor from the Vancouver School Board and was a long-standing member of the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve. Upon retirement from teaching, Augustine remained involved with the Navy and helped to collect memorabilia for the Naval Museum at HMCS Discovery in Stanley Park, Vancouver. He was also instrumental in the project to replace the entrance gates to the naval base. Augustine's family donated his uniform, cap, sword and medals to the naval museum on base at HMCS Discovery. Augustine and his wife Betty had five children, Gwen, Cliff, Geoff, Charlene and Cheryl.