Banno Family Collection


general material designation


Graphic materials, textual records, objects


1480 photographs ; 201 negatives ; 55 slides ; 23.5 cm of textual records ; 54 objects ; 14 paintings ; 0.1 cm of philatelic records






scope and content


This collection consists of 13 series. The collection documents the Banno family and the Okamura family, including Mata Banno née Okamura, her father Paul Louis Okamura, New Westminster photographer, her husband Dr. Edward Chutaro Banno, dentist and activist, and her son Robert Banno, lawyer and early supporter of the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre. The collection documents the families' life and friends in British Columbia, forcible internment in Kaslo and Tashme, and education and careers through photographs, textual records, and family objects.




Paul Louis Tsunenojo Okamura was born in 1865 in Katamonmaemachi, Shiba-ku, Tokyo, Japan. He studied at the Technical Fine Arts School at Toyko Imperial University and moved to the United States in the 1880s, moving to Vancouver in 1891. In the 1890s, Paul Louis taught art instruction at St. Louis College and St. Ann’s Academy in New Westminster. He applied his artistic skill to photography and operated several photography studios in New Westminster and Vancouver from the late 1890s to 1931, possibly Canada’s first Japanese-born artist and studio photographer. In 1912, Paul Louis married Misao Sugiyama and they had three daughters: Cana, Myea, and Mata. He worked from his home as a photographer until his death on March 26, 1937.



Mata Banno (nee Okamura) was born on June 3, 1918 in New Westminster, BC, the youngest daughter of Paul Louis Okamura and Misao Sugiyama. Mata worked as a dental assistant for Dr. Eiju Miyake. Mata married Dr. Edward Banno on May 21, 1942. They were forcibly uprooted on June 20, 1942 and interned in Kaslo, BC. Mata and Edward had three sons: Robert, Victor, and Dale. The family moved to Kamloops, BC after internment where Mata passed away on December 28, 1972.



Dr. Edward Chutaro Banno was born on September 27, 1908 in Vancouver, BC. He moved to Japan with his family at age 7 and returned to Vancouver in 1919. Edward graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1931 with a degree in Zoology and Bacteriology before gaining a degree in dentistry from North Pacific College in Oregon. In 1936, Edward was one of four Japanese Canadian Citizens’ League delegates nominated to travel to Ottawa to fight for the federal franchise for Japanese Canadians, along with Miss A. Hideko Hyodo, a schoolteacher, Mr. Minoru Kobayashi, a life insurance agent, and Dr. S. Ichie Hayakawa, a university professor. The delegation was ultimately not successful but made significant strides in bringing attention to the inequality faced by Asian Canadians. Dr. Banno worked as a dentist in Vancouver until 1942 when he and his wife Mata were forcibly uprooted and interned in Kaslo, BC. The family later moved to Kamloops where Edward set up a dental practice. He passed away on January 22, 1984.



Robert Tadashi Banno, birth name Lynn Tadashi Banno, was born on March 9, 1943 in Tashme, BC, the eldest son of Mata and Edward Banno and the first child born in the Tashme internment camp. The family later moved from the internment camp to Kamloops, BC where Robert graduated from high school in 1961. His first marriage was to Aline Beach in 1973 and they had one son, Kevin. Robert later married Cathy Makihara. Robert graduated from law school at the University of British Columbia and worked at Millward and Company, Boyd Ivens, and Davis and Company, later known as DLA Piper. He was known as a lawyer with an expertise in Japan-Canada business and trade, and Indigenous law. Robert was the Founding President of both the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre (NNMCC) and the Nikkei Place Foundation (NPF), actively involved in establishing both organizations. He served on the board of the NNMCC and as Board President of NPF until his death. Robert Banno passed away on June 16, 2020.









Nikkei National Museum