About the project
This website was created as an undergraduate honours thesis for the Department of History at the University of Victoria. Instead of writing a traditional thesis paper, the project took the form of a website to explore new possibilities for publishing research because of the Internet’s accessibility, multi-media capacity, and its capacity for dynamic user interaction. While website content and layout can mimic that of historical monographs and articles, the attributes of the internet encourage alternative approaches to sharing historical information and examining historical questions.
My website is a prototype for how historical research can be presented in ways that differ significantly in form from the current standard of the historical narrative. The text on the website can be read in a more traditional form, but that does not fully capture what is on the website.
A special thanks to the Landscapes of Injustice research project for support and access to research materials and subject matter experts.
About the content
Captain V.C. Best was a World War I veteran and used his military contacts to start a correspondence with Hugh L. Keenleyside, Assistant Under-Secretary at External Affairs and a government official sympathetic to Japanese Canadians. Best sent Keenleyside numerous letters, newspaper clippings, interviews and propaganda cards, offering his opinions on Japanese Canadians in BC and government actions directed towards them.
Overall, Best appears to have been an advocate and ally of the Japanese-Canadian community, often sharing the opinions of local Japanese Canadians with his government contacts or taking up issues he believed to be important to them. However, his letters occasionally also suggested the same end-goals as those espoused by the politicians whom Best disliked.
Despite the complications in Best’s work, Best was aware of larger contradictions as Canada fought against Nazism in Europe yet interned their citizens at home. Best was a firm supporter of British justice and fair play, and argued against many politicians’ anti-Japanese rhetoric and ideas of internment because of their similarity to Adolf Hitler’s program in Germany.
The digitized letters on this site are a sub-set of the entire file, but cover Best’s main themes, often overlapping, interacting, and evolving across the body of work.
About the author
Kate Siemens is a 5th year undergraduate student in the Department of History at the University of Victoria. Her historical interests span the globe with a focus on how BC’s history intersects with global currents in the 19th and 20th centuries. Other website projects include Chinese in Victoria during World War I: Victoria’s Chinatown and the Chinese Labour Corps.