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11 August 2010

1910 Avalanche Commemoration Will Bring Families Together

A photo of Masatora Abe's funeral service at the Buddhist church in Vancouver on 26 Mar 1910.

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Rogers Pass British Columbia - Masatora Abe passed away in the 1910 Rogers Pass avalanche. After 100 years, he will unite with his family in Canada this summer.
Masatora's great-nephew Fumio Abe and his wife Keiko will be coming to Canada this week to join the 1910 avalanche memorial on 15 Aug 2010.
Fumio says it is very important for him to come to Canada because he needs to see where Masatora spent his time before he passed away. He heard about Masatora through his grandfather but he didn't know what exactly happened to Masatora.
After a very long time, he found out about Masatora's life in Canada through Tomoaki Fujimura, a Japanese-Revelstokian who has been researching the story of the Japanese victims of the 1910 Rogers Pass avalanche.
Fumio believes he needs to see Masatora's grave and Rogers Pass in order to respect his ancestor. In Japanese Buddhism, it is very important to respect and remember ancestors. "Without my ancestors, I don't exist now," says Fumio. "I cannot ignore or disrespect my ancestor Masatora."
Masatora came to Canada from Nagano in March or April 1907. He worked as a Bookman for the Canadian Nippon Supply Company.
Masatora was working on the railway when a devastating avalanche hit on 4 Mar 1910. His body was found 17 days later, on 21 Mar 1910, and the funeral service was held 26 Mar 1910 at the Buddhist church in Vancouver.
Fumio started searching for pictures of Masatora in his home after he heard what happened to Masatora from Fujimura.
He managed to find photographs and pictures of his great-uncle. While doing so, he became very interested in his life.
Masatora passed away 100 years ago but his memory will live as long as Fumio and the Revelstoke community remember his name and life.
Buddhist belief states people die twice. The first death comes when their bodies die. The second death comes when their families and friends die. As long as they are remembered by someone, they haven't fully died yet.
Masatora Abe is one of 58 victims of the 1910 avalanche that will be commemorated during Railway Days.
The 1910 Avalanche exhibit will open at 5 p.m., on 13 Aug 2010, at Revelstoke Railway Museum and on 14 Aug 2010 at the Revelstoke Museum & Archives.
On 15 Aug 2010, at 2 p.m., a commemorative service for the victims will be held at the Summit Monument Picnic area at Rogers Pass National Historic Site.
The 1910 Avalanche spirit boat launch Toro Nagashi will begin beside the ball field at 8:30 p.m. on the night of 15 Aug 2010.
Fujimura would like to say special thanks to Canadian Pacific, Revelstoke Credit Union, Columbia Basin Trust, Valhalla Pure Outfitters in Kamloops, Vernon, and Kelowna, the Hayashi Family, Fukawa Family, Haraguchi Family, National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Center, Regent Hotel, Powder Springs Inn, Nelsen Lodge, Ava Terra Services Inc., Knights of Columbus, Kawakubo, and 1910 Rogers Pass Snow Slide Commemoration Committee for supporting the commemoration event this summer.
Article compiled with notes from Revelstoke Museum & Archives.

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