August 1, 2019

In the first week at the Osztrovics tobacco farm in southwestern Ontario, I froze the Mexican’s leftovers. The tortillas were iced up around the edges, and the chicken looked liked it had a layer of cake frosting on top. 

Officially, my title was Teacher/Labourer, and i...

July 7, 2019

You sit in your seat at the Hibiya Concert Hall, an outside venue in the style of a Roman amphitheater with its rows of seats that curve in a semi-circle around the stage. A man dressed in a white suit sits at the piano.  He looks to be in his late 60s, and there’s a t...

October 6, 2018

To some memoirists, a photo or a song may open memory’s flood gates, but for Primo Levi, a chemist by trade, it is the elements that evoke memories of life as a working chemist, the encroaching anti-Semitism, and then later his captivity by the Nazis.

Surprisingly, Levi...

September 10, 2018

Getting kicked out of Japan is no fun.  Really, take my word for it. 

I am strolling into one of those grayish, nondescript government buildings to apply for a work visa and not surprisingly inside there are rows of seats with foreigners waiting for their turn, the...

October 30, 2017

After months of planning and traveling from the Dutch colony of Deshima to Edo, the capital of Japan, or Dai Nippon (Great Kingdom of the Origin of the Sun) as the locals know it as, you the opperhoofd, the Chief Factor, and an accompanying doctor, are now to be receiv...

October 27, 2017

With heavy taxes due to the Shogun to support the upper classes, the peasants were often strapped for money to feed their own families and lived a life of subsistence, working from day to day and unable to grow in wealth or raise their position in life.

But for one reso...

October 5, 2017

It was a cold miserable January month in 1834 at Fort Nisqually.

Francis Heron, a Chief Trader for Hudson’s Bay Company and manager at Fort Nisqually, was alone in his room with a bottle of genuine Hudson’s Bay Company whiskey, produced at Fort Vancouver at one of the t...

September 12, 2017

When the Japanese castaways arrived at Fort Vancouver in the summer of 1834, they encountered the settlement at the fort, one of the first multicultural centers in North America, known simply as“The Village.” Despite the systemic racial inequality, it thrived as people...

September 3, 2017

To outsiders eating their lobster suppers in New Glasgow or fish and chips on the patio at North Rustico Harbour with decor of lobster traps and fishing nets watching the sun settling into the sea, life on the east coast seems idyllic.

After reading Quentin Casey’s...

August 28, 2017

Unlike Otokichi in my book, Hirahara Zenmatsu and the rest of crew of the  Inawaka-maru made it to Edo. They even enjoyed the New Year’s celebration in the great capital with visits to the temple to usher in 1806, filling their stomachs with mocha, pounded sticky...

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