World War 2 and Post World War 2 Schools

1940 to 1950

World War 2 had a profound effect upon all of Canada, and Richmond was no exception. Being at war with Germany, Italy, and Japan had a major impact upon Richmond's economy, ethnic diversity, and population growth. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, the Canadian Government made the decision to remove all persons of Japanese descent from coastal communities to a distance no less than 100 miles from the ocean. Richmond, with a substantial population of ethnic Japanese, both naturalized Canadians and others, primarily working in the fishing industry, was affected on many levels, including within the school system.

Boeing Plant, ca. 1942. Interior of Boeing plant on Sea Island, showing construction of flying boats, circa 1942. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1985 199 1. Click to enlarge image.

At the same time, the war generated increased economic activity at the Vancouver International Airport. Boeing, the large aircraft manufacturing company, established itself on Sea Island in order to provide necessary aircraft for the war effort. As a result, the small community of Burkeville was created to house the workers of this particular company.

Towing Japanese fishing boats, ca. 1942.

Seized Japanese fishing boats being towed
up the Fraser River to Annieville during World War II. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 34 29. Click to enlarge image.

Because of the implementation in 1942 of the Canadian policy of interning persons of Japanese descent, many students were forcibly removed from Richmond schools, especially in Steveston, Sea Island, and east Richmond. As a result of this evacuation, a school was closed and there were empty classrooms appearing in various parts of Richmond. A small Sea Island school which had served the children of the cannery workers was closed, and children of the new factory workers at Boeing were bused to Lord Byng School in Steveston where empty classrooms existed.

Explore the links below to find out more about schools built during this period.