The Soyokaze (below) in her fishing days before the war.

The beloved boat that came home after the war

A LOOK BACK into the history of the Campbell River area

War stories are often told on Remembrance Day, but they are not always about heroes or significant battles.

A war story can take place where no battles are fought, as on Canada’s west coast where the Canadian military was preparing for a possible attack from Japan just prior to World War II. As a result of this fear and the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, hundreds of Japanese Canadians were interred in camps in the belief that they posed a threat to Canada’s security, and their possessions were taken from them.

One such story is right in our own backyard.  On display at the Museum at Campbell River is an artifact whose story is significant, because it speaks of war time hardship and how a family ended a tale of loss with a happy event.  The artifact is the Soyokaze, (Gentle Wind) a 36 foot double ended cod fishing boat built at the Kishi Boatworks in Steveston in 1939, that belonged to Japanese Canadian fisherman Shigekazu Matsunaga.

Shigekazu Matsunaga.

Shigekazu was born in 1908 in Mio Wakayama, Japan and came to settle at Quathiaski Cove on Quadra Island.  From the late 1920s to 1941, he fished in the waters off Quadra Island and Campbell River.  In 1941, his fishing career didn’t end because he wished it to; he, along with his family, was interred in a camp in Bridge River, B.C.  The Matsunaga family lost all their possessions, including the beloved fishing boat, which along with 1,200 other Japanese fishing boats was confiscated.  Many were sold as ‘enemy property’ to non-Japanese fishermen.  The Soyokaze was purchased and renamed the North Star II.

When the Matsunaga family returned to the Campbell River area in 1949, Shigekazu purchased new boats and resumed fishing.  Eight years later, after much searching, he found the Soyokaze in its new guise.  Fortunately, the new owners were willing to sell it back to Shigekazu, since they knew he had been the boat’s original owner.

It is believed that the Matsunagas are the only Japanese Canadians to have found and repurchased their original fishing boat.  Shigekazu considered it to be his ‘lucky boat’.  After 1957, the aft cabin was removed to accommodate a gillnet drum so the boat could be used in both gillnet and cod fisheries.  At the time, the waters off Cape Mudge supported a particularly rich ling cod fishery with record catches of 2,700 lbs. in a single day.   Shigekazu fished with it until the cod fishery closed in 1980 due to declining stocks.  He passed away in 1995 at the age of 87.

His family maintained the boat, and it was Shigekazu’s wish that upon the boat’s retirement it should be donated to the museum.  His wife, Toshiko, their five sons and daughter were all at the dock to see the boat up on the ways in 1999 for the beginning of its restoration.  Shigekazu’s eldest son Takao pulled it to the ways, skippering the Miss Quadra, a boat that had been given to him by his father and that was part of the Matsunaga family’s fishing fleet.  Before the historic vessel left its berth the name plate North Star II was removed to uncover the carved letters of the name Soyokaze underneath.

Quadra Island carpenters George Murdock and John Jordan worked on the restoration in a space donated by Ocean Pacific.  The restoration, which was part of the Campbell River community’s Millennium Project, was completed in 2003, and since that time the Soyokaze has been sitting proudly in its berth adjacent to the museum building.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Conservation group challenges sustainable-certification claims of B.C. fish farm operator

Mowi West Canada refutes accusations it was ‘misleading’ public

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

Weekly RCMP update: Bike thefts and persistent driving while prohibited

Campbell River RCMP detachment seeing bicycle theft as an ongoing concern

Over 21 Campbell River tourism businesses benefit from resiliency program

Vancouver Island Tourism Resiliency Program is helping businesses pivot and adapt to the COVID-19 imposed changes in industry

NIC online marine training accessed by mariners across the country

NIC was among the first post-secondary schools to receive approval for digital marine courses

Study suggests 8 times more people in B.C. infected with virus than confirmed

The study looked at anonymous blood samples collected for reasons unrelated to COVID-19

‘We’re not busting ghosts’: Northern B.C. paranormal investigators check out bistro

Paranormal North Coast British Columbia recently checked out PF Bistro at City Centre Mall.

Mirror business directory and map

If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email

Russian hackers seeking to steal COVID-19 vaccine data: intel agencies

It is believed APT29, also known as ‘the Dukes’ or ‘Cozy Bear’ was responsible

Twitter racing to unravel mystery cyberattack

Some of the world’s most prominent names had their Twitter accounts post invitations for an apparent Bitcoin scam

B.C. announces funding to support post-secondary students with disabilities

The province is investing $275,000 in the new BCcampus website

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

Most Read