New Book Brings Fishermen Together
In the new book, Nikkei Fishermen on the BC coast: Their Biographies and Photographs, a “date deceased” incorrectly appeared in Fujio Frank Egami’s biography. It belongs to his brother, Yukio, whose biography follows below. In visiting Mr. and Mrs. Egami to apologize for the error, members of the Nikkei Fishermen Committee (editor Masako Fukawa, Takemi Miyazaki, Richard Nomura, Ken Takahashi and Stan Fukawa), were warmly welcomed and the conversation soon turned to the “good old days of fishing.”
Every biography in the book has a story to tell well beyond what was possible in the book with 767 biographies.
Fujio Egami was born in Steveston, received his education in Japan, and returned to Nanaimo at age 15. He attended Brechin Elementary and learned to speak English. Fujiko told the visitors that on one of their cruises, they sat next to a couple who turned out to be his former teacher at Brechin Elementary School in Nanaimo!
As a young man Fujio worked for Frank Koyama Enterprise delivering fish – cod and salmon – to restaurants and fish and chip shops in the city. In 1942 Fujio was shipped to Hastings Park and on to Slocan and Toronto where he worked in restaurants. During the internment years, his family was separated. His mother and younger brother were in Japan while he and his father were in road and internment camps.
Fujiko Kurita was also living on Vancouver Island. In 1942 she was relocated from Port Alberni to Hastings Park and on to Spuzzum. At Hastings Park, she remembers stacks of bread and a can of jam on each table at breakfast and wondered “where’s the butter?” She didn’t know at that time that Fujio, her future husband, was working in the kitchen “stirring the pot.” They met in Vernon and married on Jan. 11, 1951. Soon afterwards they returned to the coast to Vancouver. He returned to fish for BC Packers on the Skeena and the Queen Charlottes until 1991 when he suffered a stroke and was forced to retire.
Retirement did not slow down Fujio. It gave him more time to hone his gambling skills. He’s a master at the craps table and can frequently be seen with his winnings at River Rock Casino in Richmond.