|Eiji Yatabe was born on May 18, 1917 in Vancouver, BC, as the second of eight children to Gensaku and Tsune Yatabe. He received a Bachelor of Applied Science in 1938 and a Master of Applied Science in 1939 from the University of British Columbia, becoming the first Japanese Canadian to earn a master’s degree from UBC.|
After Gensaku’s death in 1938, Eiji worked for his eldest brother Masao who took over the family gardening business. Eiji was active in many Japanese Canadian groups, serving on the executive of the Japanese Students Club and the Japanese Alumni Association at UBC and as a member of the Japanese Canadian Citizens’ League for several years. With the onset of World War I and the Evacuation Orders in 1942, he worked for the BC Security Commission and helped families being forcibly relocated. In 1942, Eiji and his family were ordered to evacuate their home. In order to avoid internment or being sent to road camps, the family moved to Hollyburn Farm in St. Thomas, ON, owned by former premier Mitchell Hepburn.
Eiji accepted a position at the Department of Labour in Canada, Japanese Division in Toronto, ON and worked there until being accepted by the Canadian Army for intelligence work. He received language instruction at the S-20 Japanese Language School in Vancouver, BC. From 1945 to 1947, he served overseas in Thailand for the Southeast Asia Translation and Interrogation Centre (SEATIC). Eiji later worked at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Eiji Yatabe married Kazuko Shinobu in 1955 and they had two children, Susan and William. Eiji continued to be active within the United Church and as a member of his local Canadian Legion branch, Deep River Branch No. 436. Eiji died in 1975 in Deep River, ON.
Kazuko Yatabe (nee Shinobu) was born on December 26, 1924 in Vancouver, BC. She was the youngest of three children to Saburo Shinobu, a community leader who obtained the franchise for Japanese Canadian veterans of World War I, and Sada Shinobu, founder of the Girls’ College of Practical Arts in Vancouver.
In 1942 while in high school, Kazuko and her family were forcibly removed from their homes and interned in Kaslo, BC. Kazuko graduated from high school in Kaslo in 1943, completing her studies partially by correspondence from the University of Victoria. Determined to assist with education for younger students at the internment camp, Kazuko enrolled to be a teacher and received training led by Hide Hyodo Shimizu. From 1943 to 1944, Kazuko taught the grade 3 class at Kootenay Lake School in Kaslo. Kazuko later moved to Toronto, ON with her family and then to Deep River, ON with her husband, Eiji.
Kazuko studied piano throughout her childhood and after the war, she completed her grade 10 piano level and earned a musical teaching certificate. She worked in several careers, teaching piano, working at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and in home care. Kazuko died in 2019.