Fonds RBSC-ARC-1830 - Kudo Family Fonds

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Kudo Family Fonds

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  • 1901-2011, predominant 1938-2011 (Creation)
    Kudo (family)

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Physical description

1.75 m textual records
241 photographs: b&w, negatives

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Name of creator

Biographical history

Minoru Kudo was born on December 2, 1886 in Ariho-mura, Takada-gun, Hiroshima-ken, Japan as the second son of Ryonosuke Kudo and Utano Kudo (nee Nomura). In December 1906, Kudo left Japan for the Americas, arriving in Vancouver in 1907. Kudo worked as an office clerk for the local Japanese press, the Tairiku Nippo, and spent much of his early years in Canada studying English.

In 1911, Kudo purchased land to farm in Mission City, B.C. He was only the third Japanese immigrant to do so. In 1916, Kudo co-founded the Mission Japanese Farmers’ Association and was elected the association’s first chairman.

Toward the end of 1918, Kudo temporarily returned to Japan and married Hatsune Kudo (nee Kawamura). Hatsune was born in 1895 to Yasu Kawamura and Toyonosuke Kanaya and was a primary school teacher.

In addition to the family’s farming work in Mission, the couple worked as teachers at the community’ Japanese language schools, and Minoru Kudo served as principal between 1930 and 1942. They had 6 children: Joyce Harumi (later Miyagawa) [1920-1969], Roland Kho [1921-2003], Margaret Makiko [1923-1945], Alice Chie [1924 – 2018], Jack Sadamu [192- - after 2003] ,and Kathleen Chisato (later Merken) [1937- ].
Due to his command of the English language and leadership positions within the Mission Japanese Canadian community, Minoru Kudo volunteered as a daishonin (scrivener), helping community members to navigate disputes, complete paperwork, and compose communication (often in English). This role is something that he continued to fill during the forced displacement of Japanese Canadians from British Columbia in 1942. During this period, Kudo communicated with the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) as well as with land ‘custodians’ and farm managers to coordinate where Japanese Canadian families could find work in Alberta and to advocate for their better treatment and compensation.
Around 1947, the Minoru, Hatsune, and Kathleen moved to Chatham, Ontario and worked at the general hospital there. In 1952, they moved to London, Ontario, where Minoru Kudo worked for Wonder Bakeries as a nightwatchman.
Alice Chie Kudo was born in 1924 in Mission City, B.C. She enrolled at UBC in 1942 before her education was disrupted due to the forced displacement of Japanese Canadians from B.C. She was one of 76 students at UBC who were forcibly removed. Kudo ultimately graduated from Queen’s University in 1950 with a B.A. in mathematics and physics. She continued on to get a MA in library science from the University of Montreal. Kudo worked for the Canadian National Railway from 1953 to 1962 and then for the Financial Times of Canada from 1962 to 1972. From 1975 to 1989, she worked as an editorial researcher for Reader’s Digest.
Kathleen Chisato Merken (nee Kudo) is the youngest child of Minoru and Hatsune Kudo. She was 4 years old when the family was forcibly displaced from B.C. Kathleen graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.A. in Honours Modern Languages and Literatures in 1959, an M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1961, a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of California at Berkeley in 1966. Following her graduation from Berkeley, Merken worked as a freelance translator for advertising agencies in Japan. She then held an appointment as a visiting assistant processor in the Department of French at UBC from 1971-1972, after which she enrolled in a doctoral program with the Asian studies department. Merken completed this doctorate in 1979 and served as a visiting professor in the Asian Studies department for a year. She then served as a visiting professor at the University of Montreal (82082), as a lecturer at McGill and a charge de cours at the University of Montreal (1983-1984), and finally as an assistant professor and later faculty lecturer in the Department of East Asian Studies at McGill (1986-200-). She retired in the early 2000s but continued to work as a translator both professionally and personally.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds reflects Minoru Kudo’s involvement within the Japanese Canadian community both before and after World War II as well as the Kudo family’s experience of forced removal and its impacts on their lives moving forward. If offers insight into the actions taken by the British Columbia Securities Commission during the process of the forced removal of Japanese Canadian families from B.C. and the advocacy work of Japanese Canadians, as individuals and through groups such as the National Association of Japanese Canadians, to receive redress following the end of the war, both through the The Royal Commission on Japanese Claims(the Bird Commission) and outside of it. In addition to these materials, the fonds also illustrates the work of younger generations of Japanese Canadians to uncover and reconnect with their history. The fonds contains research files from the Kudo family, who worked to document and bring together recollections of the Mission City Japanese community as it existed before the war and where families were for forcibly removed to during it, as well as the Kudo family’s history specifically. A significant portion of the fonds is the translation work done by Kathleen Merken on Minoru Kudo’s diaries.
The materials are arranged into three series, reflecting the different time periods and purposes in which the documents were created. The Minoru Kudo diaries and correspondence series contains the original diaries and correspondence of Minoru Kudo as well as photocopies that were made by Kathleen Kudo for reference and preservation purposes. The translations series contains records relating to the translation of the diaries by Kathleen Merken, research files were used to add context to the translations, and the translations themselves. The family records series contains genealogical research files, files documenting the deaths of various members of the Kudo family, and some personal records of Kathleen Merken that speak to her academic history and work.

Notes area

Physical condition

Materials are in good condition, but many of the original documents are written on very delicate paper.

Immediate source of acquisition

The fonds was acquired by RBSC from Kathleen Merken in 2021.


Records have been arranged to reflect their general type, corresponding with the intellectual order represented in this description. Where possible, original order within series has been retained.

Language of material

  • English
  • Japanese

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No further accruals are expected.

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Collection arranged and described by Mya Ballin in January 2022.

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Information derived from the following sources:
-Records within the fonds
-Hashizume, William T. Japanese community in Mission : a brief history 1904 - 1942, Scarborough, Ont: William T. Hashizume, 2003. Available at:

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