Ernie Yamaoka

Region: Montreal Quebec
Issei | Born 1905, Shimane Japan
Died 1994


Ernest (Ernie) Nobuichi Yamaoka was born in Shimane Prefecture, Japan. At fifteen, on December 25, 1920, he made the lonely and arduous sea voyage to Victoria, British Columbia.  He began his life in Canada as a houseboy and through hard work and determination earned a high school Governor General’s medal award and a University of Alberta degree in architecture in 1937.

Without the franchise, Yamaoka’s degree was not recognized. Reluctantly he planned to return to Japan.  Through the intervention of the Japanese Consul General he found a job managing an import export office in Vancouver.  This employment ended with the West Coast Longshoremen’s Strike. Next he worked for Powell Lumber and Fuel Company founded by his father and partners until the attack on Pearl Harbour resulted in the forced dispersal and removal of Japanese Canadians from the West Coast.

In 1945 Yamaoka went to Montreal. He worked for the architect, J.C Meadowcroft. The pay was $25 a week and required long hours of overtime. During his 10 years there, he passed the PQAA exam and could now call himself a Professional Architect. In his work, he designed a 40 bed hospital for Dr. George Hori.

In the late 1950s Ernie became a Team Chief Architect for the City of Montreal where he remained until his retirement in 1974. He spent many happy retirement years with his family at the cottage he designed on Lake Champlain, Vermont.  A stroke led to a move to Momiji Residence in Toronto. Yamaoka passed away in 1994.

TAGS: Architecture |