Michiko ‘Midge’ Ayukawa was a Nisei historian who specialized in Hiroshima immigrants and women’s experience in Japanese Canadian history. Born Michiko Ishii in Vancouver, Ayukawa was interned in Lemon Creek as a teenager. Her family resettled in Hamilton after the war, and she studied chemistry at McMaster University, earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. She was working for the National Research Council in Ottawa when she met her future husband, Kaoru ‘Karl’ Ayukawa.
After raising five children, retiring from her career in chemistry, and becoming a widow, Ayukawa became inspired to start a second career as a historian after a trip to Japan in 1983. She went back to school at the University of Victoria, and completed a master’s thesis on Japanese Canadian picture brides, and a PhD dissertation on Hiroshima immigrants to Canada, later published in revised form as her book Hiroshima Immigrants in Canada 1891-1941.
Ayukawa was a respected elder in the community on the West Coast: she had moved to Vancouver Island in 1980, and was also involved in Vancouver-based organizations such as the Nikkei National Museum.