Nikkei Artifacts for the New Museum
For nearly 15 years, archaeologist Bob Muckle and his students from Capilano University have been excavating a significant site deep within the woods of the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. Buried beneath the moss and ferns of the North Vancouver forest, Bob Muckle has uncovered the remains of a small Japanese community that inhabited the area from the 1920s until the early1940s. The small village likely housed 40 to 50 people, and appears to have started shortly after logging ceasedin the forest by 1924.
Excavated artifacts include: nails and other metal items, household objects including rice bowls, bottles, and ointment jars, as well as the remains of alarm clocks, cook stoves, a camera, and shawl pin, all evidence of the long-term settlement of families. Perhaps the most significant find is the foundation of a bathhouse, fundamental to Japanese culture, and the only bathhouse of its kind
uncovered in North America.
Based on the objects left behind, Bob Muckle believes that the Nikkei village was abandoned in the early 1940s, possibly when the Canadian government began the process of internment, detaining people of Japanese descent and moving them to camps in the interior. Now that he has wrapped up the active excavation of the site, Bob Muckle is sharing the collection of artifacts with the Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby and with the NVMA. Thanks to the archaeological excavation and the artifacts uncovered, the NVMA will be able to present this important community story to visitors at the new Museum.
by Karen Dearlove, NVMA Curator
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