Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society Building exhibit

The Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society (JFBS) Building, located in Steveston directly behind the Steveston Museum & Post Office is now open to the public. The museum is open Monday to Sunday from 12-4pm.

It features interpretation about the Japanese Canadian experience in Steveston from the time of their arrival in Steveston to the time of their internment during World War II. Their story is told in their own words, and uses their objects and archival images.

The exhibition begins with the arrival of the first Nikkei, or people of Japanese descent. Their many contributions to Steveston from fishing and farming to cultural arts, and from education to kendo and judo are explored. The exhibition also interprets the Japanese community’s internment during World War II and the postwar return of some Nikkei to Steveston.

The JFBS Building is a symbol of the Japanese community’s success and of their many contributions to Steveston. The building was located at Number One Road and Chatham Street, where it was situated between the Japanese Hospital and the Japanese Language School, two important JFBS projects. The building was likely used for a variety of purposes, including the administration of both the hospital and the school.

The Japanese Hospital itself was built in response typhoid fever epidemics, which were an annual scourge during the last years of the 19th century. The hospital was completed in 1900 at a cost of $1,800 and contained a large ward of 30 beds, two private rooms and a small surgery. Although built and funded by the Japanese community, it was open to everyone in Steveston.

The Japanese Language School educated young children, with an increasing emphasis on English. Eventually the full BC curriculum was adopted and Japanese classes were taught after school.

The Steveston Museum would like to thank the:

Nikkei National Museum – Exhibition content

Steveston Museum Site Building Committee – Exhibition advisors

Steveston Historical Society – Exhibition content development

City of Richmond, Production – Morgan Muir, Graphic Design

David Jensen and Associates – Exhibit design