This week's post features two Lethbridge businesses that were successful despite the adversity faced by their operators in prior enterprises, though under very different conditions. Ryutaro Nakagama lost his business on the B.C. coast during the Second World War as a result of the Canadian government's policy of relocating and interning Japanese-Canadians in the province. George Baalim had run an unsuccessful real estate business in Calgary, but he established successful businesses in auto sales, oil refining, and auto repairs.
Nakagama's Japanese Food and Giftware
|Ryutaro and Nobuko Nakagama, 1958. Courtesy of Ken Nakagama.|
Ryutaro Nakagama lost his property and the grocery business that he had operated for over a decade in Steveston, British Columbia when the Canadian government relocated Japanese-Canadians to southern Alberta in 1942 to work in sugar beet production. Following the war, he worked to rebuild what he had lost despite the hardships imposed on him and his family. He bought a truck and began buying products such as tofu and noodles produced in cottage industries among the Japanese Canadians in the area and peddling them to customers on various farms. In 1947, Nakagama was the first Japanese-Canadian to open a store in Lethbridge. He and his wife Nobuko operated their store on 1st Avenue South. In 1955 the business relocated to its present location on 2nd Avenue South. Over 65 years later, Nakagama’s is now managed by Ryutaro’s son Ken and continues to offer Japanese foods, kitchenware and gifts to its customers.
|Baalim Motors, 1939. Galt Archives P19790092000|
By Sven Andreassen
Sven Andreassen is a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia's Master of Archival Studies program. He volunteered in the Galt Archives in 2013 and curated this exhibit.