Accession 2023.04 - Jack Itsuo Hemmy accession

Identity area

Reference code

CA EAL F005-2023.04


Jack Itsuo Hemmy accession


  • [190-]-1999 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

5 linear meters, comprised of:
152 folders of textual records
3696 b&w photographs
3331 colour photographs
2 hand coloured photographs
12 b&w mounted photographs
10 b&w negatives, 35mm
580 colour negatives, 35mm
126 b&w negatives
3 colour negatives
42 b&w contact sheets
4 colour contact sheets
11 colour 35mm slides
1 book
2 scrapbooks

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Jack Itsuo Henmi was born February 3, 1923 in Victoria, B.C. He was the eldest child of Sokichi Henmi (1894-1967) and Tatsu Henmi, nee Uchimi (1895- n.d.).

Sokichi Henmi immigrated to Canada in 1913, following his father, Kanekichi Henmi (1872-1935) who had come in 1907. Sokichi most likely immigrated with his mother Toyo Henmi nee Okuda (1872-n.d.). The two men began as fishermen, though Sokichi briefly worked at the Gorge Tea Garden in Victoria, B.C. Later, he would take up a dry-cleaning business, “Central Cleaners and Dryers”. During WWI, Sokichi was conscripted into the army, but did not show up for the physical. Japanese were exempt from military duty, yet the conscription order still required a physical. At the request from his mother Kanekichi, Sokichi was allowed to return to his work thanks to Rev. Kosaburo Shimizu negotiating his release and the judge dismissing his case. Tatsu Henmi immigrated to Canada in 1919 to join her husband, whom she married in a ceremony in 1918 in Japan where the groom was absent.

Kanekichi and Toyo would later welcome two daughters, Cindy Eiko Henmi (1914-1990) and Yaeko Henmi (1917-2002). Eiko became a prominent figure in Japanese Canadian rights, and Canadian literature as a poet. She wrote for The New Canadian, and sometimes published under the pseudonym Cinderella. She, like her brother, would eventually make her way to Montreal after internment.

Sokichi was an active member in the Japanese Canadian community in Victoria. He, with the help of Kunio Uyede helped to fundraise for a Judo Club dojo. At the beginning of relocation when Japanese Canadians were being forced off Vancouver Island, he and other community leaders approached the British Columbia Securities Commission to help facilitate the move as it had been in limbo for months.

Tastu and Sokichi soon welcomed two sons, Jack Itsuo Henmi and Robert Hiroshi Henmi (1928-n.d.). The two boys grew up in Victoria B.C. and enjoyed a variety of activities including basketball, Judo, and playing music. Jack graduated Victoria Highschool, class of ’42. His life was turned upside-down with WWII. He tried to join the Canadian Army in 1941 but was rejected. When forced to move off of Vancouver Island, the Henmi’s made their way to Sandon, B.C. Jack was a young, single man and thus separated from them, and sent east to manual labor jobs. He worked at a sugar beet farm in Glencoe Ontario, then went on to Port Credit. By 1943, Jack found employment with Stark Electrical Instrument Company, which allowed him to move to Toronto, ON.

Jack Itsuo Henmi began using “Hemmy” as his last name after coming to Toronto. He quickly joined the growing group of Nisei and other Japanese Canadians who had made their way to the city after being interned and forced out of the West coast. On November 17, 1945 Jack married Mary Ruriko Okazaki (1919-n.d.). They had four sons.

Mary Ruriko Okazaki was the daughter of Seisuke Okazaki (1888-1965) and Tomeyo Okazaki nee Yamada (1887-1944). She also had a brother, Arthur Kiyoto Okazaki (1921-n.d.). Seisuke immigrated to Canada in 1907 and worked as a chauffeur. He later pivoted to dry-cleaning, and became the owner of Victory Cleaners in Vancouver, B.C. During internment, the family eventually moved to Toronto, ON.

Jack Hemmy’s first job in Toronto was with Stark Electrical Instrument Co. in 1943. He moved to the city and joined the many other Japanese Canadians who were also finding employment and community. He enrolled in Ryerson Institute of Technology’s Photography program, taking night courses. Jack entered a two-year apprenticeship with Clement Staila Co. Ltd, learning photostat operations and reproduction. After completing the apprenticeship, he continued to work there for 13 years. In 1967, he started Dyna Photostat Service Ltd. He continued to run and operate the business for 10 years. 1977 brought Jack to Leslie Advertising as Account Executive. By the 1980s Jack taught as a reprographer within the Technological Studies Department of Ontario College of Art (now Ontario College of Art & Design University), retiring in 1988. Throughout his career, Jack took on freelance work, primarily from the Japanese Canadian community. He worked for The New Canadian, photographed events held by the Japanese Consulate in Toronto, and covered many gatherings at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre.

Archival history

Records were created or collected by Jack Hemmy, until his passing. His son Doug Hemmy inherited the material and arranged the material into family groups and times.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by Doug Hemmy.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The records are comprised primarily of photographs taken and collected by Jack Hemmy and his family. Textual records are also included.

Personal family records from both the Henmi’s and the Okazaki’s follow the first members to settle in Canada, their forced uprooting during WWII, and eventually settling in Toronto. Textual records tell how Jack Hemmy was uprooted as a young man and sent East, away from the rest of his family. Many family photo albums have been kept, spanning from the turn of the century and continuing up until the 70s and 80s, spanning four generations.

Records are also collected from the many community events held by the Japanese Canadian community in Toronto. Jack attended many diverse events related to the community and was often the photographer for them. These photographs span from the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, the Japanese Consulate, heritage events held at Ontario Place, and sports events. These records span primarily from the 1950s onwards, as the majority of them are from Jack’s time in Toronto.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No future accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Records were kept with similar records, but no strong original order from the creator was discernable. Due to the variety of mediums, like materials were housed together for most efficient use of space and concerns over long term preservation. Digitization of albums for preservation and access is planned and will affect the future arrangement of many photographs.

Titles were taken from the envelops or file folders that stored the documents. Titles in square brackets have been created by the Archivist.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

No restrictions on access, except when handling material where there are preservation concerns.

Conditions governing reproduction

Most photographs from the 1940s onward were taken by Jack Hemmy, and should be noted in any citations.

Language of material

  • English
  • Japanese

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Notes area


The creation of this finding aid was made possible with generous funding from the Frank H. Hori Charitable Foundation, as well as other grants and donations.

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Description control area

Description identifier

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Rules and/or conventions used

Dates of creation revision deletion

Updated description June 15, 2023 by E Carroll.




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