New Denver was one of the internment camps for the 22,000 Japanese Canadians who were forcibly uprooted, dispossessed and incarcerated during World War II. By 1942, the camp held 1,505 Japanese Canadians who built 275 shacks in a fruit grove known as the “Orchard.” Many of the current cottages in the village of New Denver are clearly renovated internment cabins.
The Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre is located in the heart of the Orchard on the site of a wartime internment camp. The original buildings, period artefacts, interpretive displays and Heiwa Teien garden chronicle this extraordinary episode in Canadian history. It has ongoing cultural and historic value as a reminder of the harsh conditions endured by the internees there, and contains many personal belongings donated by the community. Historic places within the community, such as the Orchard, the Kohan Reflection Garden, and the New Denver Church, serve as reminders of the impacts that internment had on the community, a meaningful legacy that lives on today.
While New Denver was one of the larger internment camps in this area, there were other locations nearby that also held significant Japanese Canadian communities during the internment years. In 1942, the population of Sandon was about 20. By November of that year there were about 933 Japanese Canadians living there. The Rosebery camp held about 356 Japanese Canadians, most Japanese nationals. Out of all the camps it had the smallest number of children in school with only 100.