UBC Graduate Research

From Methodist Mission to Modern Hospital: The History of Steveston's Japanese Hospital, 1895-1942 Vandenberg, Helen


During its early history, the Japanese hospital in Steveston, British Columbia transformed from a small Methodist Mission Hospital to a modern medical facility. Unlike many other hospitals targeting non-White groups in British Columbia, it was the Japanese community itself that was responsible for this transition. The Japanese fishermen organized a subscription system and leadership board to establish and operate a modern hospital. The development of this unique institution was driven by broader cultural and political factors that reflected recent changes that occurred in Japan during the Meiji Restoration. During this period, Japan revolutionized and began a campaign of modernization and militarization, with the goal of becoming an imperial power equal to that of Western nations. These ideas were also utilized abroad as Japanese populations faced racism and exclusion from communities that supported the dominance of White-European culture. The Japanese hospital became a symbol of resistance for the Japanese community, an example of the success of Japanese populations in Canada. The history of the Japanese hospital in Steveston demonstrates that hospital development in Canada was not only shaped by medical advancement, professionalization of health care occupations or by state-driven initiatives, but also by the communities that established and maintained health care services during Canada’s early colonial history. Presented at Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry 2013 Symposium

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