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Our Mothers' Patterns
National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre
Burnaby , British Columbia

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   Sewing and dressmaking in
the Japanese Canadian
community is a legacy of
pride, skill and
accomplishment passed on from
thousands of women who
mastered this vital art to
practice their craft in
British Columbia and across
Canada from the early part of

the twentieth century to the
present.
   The inspiration for this
exhibit came from a
collection of dresses donated
to the Japanese Canadian
National Museum by Mary
Ohara, typical of those worn
in the 1930s, 1940s, and
1950s. Sewing then was not

only necessary for women of
all ages to provide custom-
made inexpensive clothing for
themselves and their
families, but was also a
primary source of income for
many Japanese Canadians
excluded from mainstream
businesses or professional
occupations. These women

established their own shops
or made clothing for clients
from their homes after
attending dressmaking
academies.
   During the internment
years, the women in almost
every camp organized hugely
popular classes. For
Canadians like Mary Ohara who

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