The date was June 30, 1939 – the Golden Jubilee of the Victoria Lumber & Manufacturing Co. Ltd., the lifeblood of the modern Chemainus. The summer breeze rustled leaves and pulled at the lengths of the swaying silk kimonos worn by members of the Japanese Canadian community. Theirs was the winning float in a record-breaking parade that stretched over one kilometre (0.75 mi) and began two days of festivities.
In stark contrast to the gentle dance of the women’s clothing are the sturdy siennas and rusts of an expanse of forest and rock across the bay, the eternal backdrop to all activity in Chemainus.
Japanese culture likewise survived side by side the picket fence propriety of a dominant society that became increasingly intolerant of differences as war loomed. By 1942, there was not a single Japanese Canadian resident in the community – all had been forcibly moved to internment camps.
In the summer of 1991, special efforts were undertaken to commemorate the rich and valuable contribution of Japanese Canadians to the community of Chemainus. The Winning Float is a result of those efforts, and pays tribute to citizens who so long ago took such joy in celebrating our history.