Katsuyo "Kay" Mende

Katsuyo "Kay" Mende, a Canadian-Nisei, was born in Vancouver, B.C. on July 3, 1926. Following WWII and internment years, her family moved eastward and settled in Toronto where she married and raised 4 sons with husband Ron. She worked as a secretary for the electronics company, RCA, for over 20 years until her retirement in 1990. Widowed in 1999, she lived on her own, regularly attending Aqua-Fit classes and taking sumi-e lessons. She was reunited with her son Fred just shy of her 90th birthday. She suffered a stroke November 2017, and her limited mobility with the current COVID-19 crisis has left her housebound. She’s an avid sports fan, faithfully following the Leafs and Jays on TV, and especially the NBA’s Raptors.

Updated December 2021

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From Vancouver's Powell St. to Toronto: Kay Mende’s Remarkable Life

Part 3: Life before the war and upheaval to Lemon Creek

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The only pleasure Frank used to have during these hard times was going fishing down Gore Avenue to make a few pennies selling the catch – a bucketful of “shiner perch” - to Japanese restaurants. “Tengu” was one of them, owners of which were grandparents of my current good friend, Pat. Frank used to scrape barnacles off posts protruding from the water down at the wharf, inside of which were worms that made the best bait. I remember the times he had asked us girls to go down to the docks early and scrape the barnacles off and get ...

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From Vancouver's Powell St. to Toronto: Kay Mende’s Remarkable Life

Part 2: A Japanese Canadian Nisei Education

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The following are my siblings:

  • Shigeru (Frank): b. 1924. He worked for the Dept. of Education, married Ruth Sasaki, divorced; Married Toshiko Otsuka, both deceased.
  • Katsuyo (Kay): myself. b.1926. She married Ron Mende (deceased).
  • Ayako (Betty): b.1930. She married Stony Nagata (deceased), lived in Richmond Hill
  • Sachiko (Shirley): b. 1932 (deceased). She married Bob Takagi (deceased) and lived in Willowdale.
  • Kinuko (Mary): b.1936. She lives in Toronto.
  • Kenneth (Kenji): b.1940. He lives in House of Wellness, Brampton (care- assisted home).

       Two infantile deaths:

  • Masaru (first born – 1923): died 1925 - diphtheria
  • Mitsue (b. 1927 ...

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From Vancouver's Powell St. to Toronto: Kay Mende’s Remarkable Life

Part 1: Family History & Life on Powell St.

“Our Mother’s account of her childhood and adolescence in Vancouver, British Columbia paints a vivid picture of the plight of many Japanese-Canadian families during pre-World War II Canada and the injustices of the internment years. Her story is a testament to the courage and strength that she, her family and her community summoned to overcome the oppression of those times.

Rising above the adverse experiences of the past, Mom has always displayed an attitude of forgiveness, kindness, compassion, and a positive approach to life. Mom and Dad’s devotion to their family assured a safe place for their children ...

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