Midge Ayukawa collection


general material designation


Textual record ; graphic material ; sound recording ; object


109.1 cm of textual records ; 84 photographs ; 52 sound recordings ; 28 colour slides ; 25 digital images ; 10 film negatives ; 4 objects






scope and content


The collection consists of 7 series. The first series consists of four photographs of Thunder River and Blue River road camps in BC. The second series consists of materials from Midge Ayukawa (Ishii at the time) and her family's time in Lemon Creek, B.C., and Neys, Ontario, during internment, including photographs of individuals and school classes, recreational photos, and Lemon Creek School publications. from Lemon Creek, BC, and Neys, Ontario. The third series consists of 25 digital images taken at Lemon Creek. The fourth series consists of an address book belonging to J.S. Sato in Princeton, BC for the Ocean Falls, BC Jichi Kai. The fifth series is a taped interview of Midge Ayukawa while looking at photographs of Lemon Creek, BC. The sixth series documents notes, inserts, and other auxiliary materials that were found in the books of Midge Ayukawa's library collection. The seventh series documents correspondence, annotated copies of academic articles, student papers and dissertations, handwritten notes, and recorded interviews that Midge Ayukawa made and kept throughout her personal and academic relationships and career with various correspondents.






Michiko “Midge” Ayukawa (nee Ishii) was born on June 26, 1930, and grew up in a mixed-background neighbourhood in Vancouver, BC, around the 700th block of Georgia Street in Strathcona, to Kenji and Misayo Ishii and was the only sister to brothers Hideo, Yoshio, and Kazuo. Her father was self educated and both parents were from Hiroshima. She was sent to Japanese school but felt out of place with her classmates there. After Pearl Harbor her father was sent away to a labour camp and she and the rest of her family went to Lemon Creek in 1942. While packing for relocation her mother insisted on bringing the kitchen stove. After internment, Mrs. Ayukawa stayed in camp an extra year, lived in a German POW camp for a short time and eventually moved to Hamilton, Ontario, where she completed high school, to attend university. She found this time to be a very difficult adjustment. At Lemon Creek everyone had spoken a mix of Japanese and English, and she had to transition her language use. She financed her way through university and obtained her degree in Honours Chemistry from McMaster University in 1952 and her Masters degree in 1953 before going on to work in Ottawa at the National Research Council. In 1955, Midge married Kaoru "Karl" Ayukawa and worked at the National Research Council until 1956 when she started a family. She later taught chemistry laboratory to undergraduate students at Carleton University as well as at the University of Victoria after the family moved to Sooke, BC, in 1980.



After her children were born, her husband passed away and she decided to move back to BC in 1980. A trip to Japan in 1983 is credited as the impetus for Midge’s academic career in Japanese language, literature, and the histories of both Japan and Canada at the University of Victoria. She earned her MA and PhD (1997) at the University of Victoria studying Japanese Canadian history under the supervision of Dr. Patricia Tsurumi. In 1999, Dr. Patricia Roy and Midge worked together on the history of Japanese Canadians for the Encyclopedia of Canada’s Peoples. It was out of this collaboration that Pat encouraged Midge to publish her PhD work. Around this time from 1997 to 1999, Midge was a director on the Board of the Japanese Canadian National Museum and Archives Society (JCNMAS). Almost a decade to the date of her doctoral defense in 2007, her dissertation, “Creating and Recreating Village: Hiroshima and Canada 1891-1941” was adapted for publication by UBC Press. Her 1995 landmark article in BC Studies “Good Wives and Wise Mothers: Japanese Picture Brides in Early Twentieth Century British Columbia” was recorded in 2008 and Hiroshima Immigrants in Canada 1891-1941 was published by UBC Press in the same year. Dr. John Price, a long-time colleague and friend of Midge’s from the Department of History at UVic, remarked that her 1995 article in BC Studies, “Good Wives and Wise Mothers: Japanese Picture Brides in Early Twentieth Century British Columbia,” was, with Tomoko Makabe’s book, Picture Brides: Japanese Women in Canada, a turning point in bringing women and gender into the discussion of Japanese Canadian history: it has been audio archived as one of the 40 most popular articles in the journal.



Midge continued writing into her later years. Her review for BC Studies of Sakura in the Land of the Maple Leaf in 2008 reflects her preoccupation with attention to detail and her generosity in recognizing contributions by non-specialists in the field. Around this time, she joined with a group of BC scholars in forming the Asian Canadian Working Group, and actively participated in discussions to promote Asian Canadian Studies. In 2007, Michiko was inducted into the McMaster University Alumni Gallery. She continued to speak regularly, as a guest lecturer in university and college classrooms, as an invited speaker for the Japanese American National Museum in 2010 and at numerous other Japanese American events, and, in February 2012, at the symposium on the 70th anniversary of the uprooting organized by the Asian Canadian Working Group. She was an active board member of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre in Burnaby BC, and in September 2013, she was awarded the Japanese Canadian History Preservation and Education Award. In her personal life, she traveled throughout Asia and Europe and intensified her practice of Taoist Tai Chi, teaching health recovery classes at the Taoist Tai Chi Centre in Victoria.



Dr. Michiko "Midge" Ayukawa (nee Ishii) of Victoria, B.C. died peacefully with family by her side on October 24, 2013 at the Victoria Hospice in the Royal Jubilee Hospital. At the time of her passing, she was survived by her youngest brother Kazuo Ishii; her five children Hannah (and partner Roland), Michael (and wife Dianne), Ken (and wife May), Patti (and husband Greg), and Carla (and partner Brian); and her ten grandchildren Aki, Patrick, Eric, Irene, Courtney, Emma, Chelsea, Carly, Mika and Nicholas. The funeral service was held on Tuesday, October 29 at First Memorial on 1155 Fort Street, Victoria, BC.



Her obituary was published in The Times Colonist from Oct. 26 to Oct. 28, 2013 and can be found here:












Nikkei National Museum


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