Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

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Frederick Shizuo Matsuo

Biography

Frederick "Fred" Shizuo Matsuo was born March 4, 1926, in New Westminster, British Columbia. The family of six resided in White Rock, B.C., before moving to Duncan, B.C., in 1929. Following Canada' declaration of war against Japan in 1941, the Matusos moved to Mount Lehman, B.C. to stay with relatives on their strawberry farm. Under the War Measures Act, Canada deported Japanese-Canadians away from the west coast to the B.C. and Alberta interior. However, by working on a sugar beet farm in Manitoba, the Matsuos, among other families, were able to stay together. The family arrived at Winnipeg's Canadian Pacific Railway station in April 1942, and were soon after picked up by farmers to work as farm labour. Fortunately, the Matsuos ended up with a German family which, facing discrimination in Canada for their heritage, were empathetic to Japanese Canadians. Still, many of the neighbouring farms in Petersfield, Manitoba, still harboured anti-Japanese sentiments. Threshing was difficult work, but by the end of the grain harvest, the family felt at home in the community. However, their mail was still censored, and travel restrictions were still imposed. The family moved to Selkirk in 1944 and spring 1945.

After finishing high school in 1946, Fred wished to enter the Charter Accountant Programme, but was informed that the C.A. firm was not accepting students of Japanese descent. Instead, Fred took first year commerce at United College (University of Winnipeg). Fred dropped out in 1947 before completing his degree in order to provide for his family. Fred worked for Ariza Construction Co. for four years while attending evening classes at St. Johns, Kelvin, and Daniel Mcintyre high schools. After two years of architectural drafting, Fred found work with Smith Carter Architects, working there from 1952-1991. He was respected as a draftsperson and project manager. He married Alena Takatsu in 1954.

Fred was involved with the Manitoba Japanese Canadian Cultural Association and Manitoba Japanese Cultural Community Centre as president in 1953, and as a board member for eighteen years. Fred was also the brother in law of Henry Takatsu, a draftsperson for the Winnipeg firm Pratt Lindgren Snider Tomcej and Associates, and uncle of interior designer and artist Ryan Takatsu.

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Photographs