Within the Barbed Wire Fence

A Japanese Man's Account of his Internment in Canada

by Takeo Ujo Nakano

with Leatrice M. Willson Chan

foreword by Leatrice M. Willson Chan

A unique memoir by a young Japanese-Canadian poet torn from his family and interned in distant labour camps for the "crime" of being Japanese during the Second World War

Takeo Nakano immigrated to Canada from Japan in 1920, later marrying and starting a family in his adopted homeland. Takeo's passion was poetry, and he cultivated the exquisite form known as tanka.

Then came the Second World War. Takeo Nakano was one of thousands of Japanese men forcibly separated from his family in 1942 and interned in labour camps in the British Columbia interior. Takeo was one of those who protested the forced labour in the camps and the separation from his family. His punishment was to be sent even further away, to an isolated internment camp in northern Ontario.

This book, first published in 1982, is a rare first-person account of the experience of internment. This new edition includes a foreword by his daughter, Leatrice M. Willson Chan, with whom he collaborated in preparing his memoir.

About the Authors

Leatrice M. Willson Chan
Leatrice M. Willson Chan
Leatrice M. Willson Chan
Leatrice M. Willson Chan

TAKEO UJO NAKANO was born in Japan and immigrated to Canada in 1920. He worked in the British Columbia lumber industry for twenty years before his internment during the Second World War. After the war, he settled with his family in Toronto, continuing his cultivation of tanka.

LEATRICE M. WILLSON CHAN is a program associate in restorative justice with the Mennonite Central Committee Ontario.


"What sets Nakano's memoir apart is his poetic sensibility...A reaffirmation of the strength of the human spirit in adversity and the healing power of forgiveness."
Globe and Mail

Subjects (BISAC)


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