Museum hosts book signing

Former Boundary resident Chuck Tasaka felt compelled to record the stories of families of Greenwood and Midway.

Chuck Tasaka signed copies of his latest book recently at the Greenwood Museum.

Chuck Tasaka signed copies of his latest book recently at the Greenwood Museum.

A book launch and author signing was held at the Greenwood Museum for former Greenwood resident Chuck Tasaka’s latest—and he says last—book telling the stories of the Boundary and its families. Tasaka made himself available to sign a copy of the new book My Hometown, My Furusato: Family History of Greenwood-Midway and to chat.

The book includes stories of the early pioneer families who came to the Boundary country to find a better life. Pioneers who started from scratch and worked their way to self-sustainable living. It also includes stories of families forced to move here.

When war in the Pacific broke out in 1941, Greenwood was on the verge of becoming a ghost town. The Japanese living on the coast of B.C. were incarcerated and, at the invitation of Mayor W.E. McArthur Sr., Greenwood became the first internment camp in B.C. The resulting blending of cultures and families is told in the book.

This is Tasaka’s second book. In 2011 he published Hanatare Bozu or Runny-nosed Brats of Greenwood, the proceeds of which were used to fund three murals on display at the museum commemorating the work done by the Franciscan Sisters of Atonement in Greenwood from 1942 to 1967.

That first book went through two print runs. First 300 and then (with an additional 30 pages, mostly on the Sisters) another run of 200 was done. It has probably sold out now, only four were left at the Greenwood Museum on Saturday morning.

Tasaka has had 1,000 copies of My Hometown, My Furusato: Family History of Greenwood-Midway printed. His books are for sale at the Greenwood Museum and the Nikkei Museum in Burnaby, and he said that proceeds after printing costs would go to those institutions.

It took two years to write the new book. “The first year I was kind of struggling, I thought maybe I will reach 20 families participating, I will be happy and I will get it printed. The second year a few more people, and then I started calling people on the phone. I got 30 and thought maybe I can get 40 and sure enough it happened this spring. I was lucky.”

You will find stories such as that of Joe and Jim Fukui Kokui who, before the war, were members of the Vancouver Asahi Japanese Baseball team—a team inducted into both the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

“They won the Triple Crown in 1938, and they won five straight provincial championships,” said Tasaka. “This was the time there was no professional sport in Vancouver so they were the best team in B.C.”

Hockey fans can find many hidden gems in this book. The family story of NHL star Paul Kariya is to be found on page 155.

Local history comes alive with beautiful pictures from the Greenwood Museum and the Kettle River Museum in Midway; and the many family photos make the book even more valuable as a part of the historical record.

Because many families moved after the war the book is a fountainhead of first-hand written knowledge of the history and geography of many part of the province.

“I am just so pleased that the families who wrote their histories made it so interesting. Some of my friends say, ‘We don’t know any of these families, but we found it fascinating.’ That pleases me. It’s not my book—it is the story of these families.

“I am not a writer. I am like a logger taking up ballet,” Tasaka said, explaining he expects this to be his final book, “unless there is something significant that needs to be documented.”

“Writing is not my forte but I felt that urgency. You know a lot of the families are going to take their history to the grave and I said no, we have to document some of that. I don’t want this to get lost.”