Vancouver Maritime Museum’s Winning Exhibit

The Lost Fleet Exhibit

I recently won tickets to the Vancouver Maritime Museum’s The Lost Fleet exhibit. The exhibit focused on the treatment of Japanese immigrants and those of Japanese descent in Vancouver during the Second World War. It’s main emphasis was on the confiscation of nearly 1,200 Japanese-Canadian owned fishing boats by Canadian officials on the British Columbia coast, which were eventually sold off to canneries and other non-Japanese fishermen. It’s not a pleasant period in our history. However, this was an excellent opportunity for me to learn more about this part of Vancouver’s past.

Japanese Internment in Vancouver

Now, I can only give the briefest overview about these events. Click here if you want to learn more. Basically, Vancouver’s Powell Street area once had a thriving Japanese community (Japanese-Canadians also lived in other parts of the province as well). After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese people in Vancouver were taken from their homes and placed in holding areas and internment camps. Holding areas included places like the livestock building at the Pacific National Exhibition where living conditions were very poor. Today, the Powell Street area only has remnants of the Japanese community. However, the yearly Powell Street Festival, helps to celebrate Japanese culture and the neighborhood as it once was.

Performances Liven Up the Vancouver Maritime Museum Exhibit

Vancouver Maritime Museum

The Vancouver Maritime Museum examined many aspects of the Japanese experience in Vancouver as part of their exhibit. What made it especially interesting, though, were the live performances. Actors read diary entries of Japanese-Canadians during WWII. They acted out roles like a Japanese ship captain, ordered to return to port, and a Canadian of Japanese descent asked to go to Japan.The exhibit also featured pottery and sound art, as well as artifacts and informative text about the period.

I also found it very interesting to visit the permanent collection, including the St. Roch vessel. It was especially lovely to go outside at sunset and see several vintage boats at the museum’s dock. Some rather strange objects were also on display inside the museum, such as a narwhal’s tusk.

A Tourist in My Own Town

Vancouver Maritime Museum

I’m rather ashamed to admit that I don’t know if I’ve ever been to this museum before. Yet, this brings home, again, why winning contests is awesome. You get the opportunity to go to places and do things you might not otherwise seek out. While traveling overseas is an amazing experience that I love, being a tourist in your own town can be fun too! So, many thanks to the Georgia Straight for making this adventure possible!