Saburo Shinobu was the first Japanese Canadian to earn a degree as a Chartered Life Underwriter. Title: “Dollars Must Take Over.” Collection: Shinobu Family fonds. Repository: Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre. Accession Number: 2018.12.4.34.8. Year: circa 1950s.
BURNABY — Over the past year, the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre (NNMCC) digitized materials from the Shinobu Family fonds as part of the Tegami: Reaching Out Across Distance project, thanks to generous support from the Yatabe family and the British Columbia History Digitization Program.
Along with Saburo’s activism and volunteering in the Japanese Canadian community, he was also accomplished in his career. Having moved to Canada when he was 18, Saburo enrolled in public school to learn English, graduating in 1913. Through years of correspondence courses from the University of Toronto, Saburo became the first Japanese Canadian to earn the degree of Chartered Life Underwriter, one of only 20 with the designation at the time out of 700 underwriters in B.C.
In 1925, he joined the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and sold insurance to Japanese Canadians across B.C. He and his wife, Sada, would later share office space on Alexander Street with Sada’s practical arts college on the first floor and Saburo’s insurance office on the second.
Saburo and Sada were forced to leave their businesses behind in 1942 when their family was forcibly uprooted and sent to the Kaslo internment camp. Prevented from returning to Vancouver after the war, the family moved to Toronto in 1945. Saburo was able to resume his insurance work with Manufacturers in the 1950s.
This item is an advertisement for the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, featuring Saburo’s photograph and hard-earned designation as a Chartered Life Underwriter. Saburo earned several awards of merit for his work at the company, including years on the honour roll as well as frequent membership in the One Hundred Thousand Club for securing at least one hundred thousand dollars of new business for the company. In a letter from the agency superintendent congratulating Saburo on his accomplishments, the company writes, “It is gratifying for us to know that you are becoming established in Toronto, and we wish you every success” (NNM 2018.12.4.36.12).
Learn more about Saburo Shinobu and explore the Shinobu Family fonds at www.nikkeimuseum.org.