ASHIKAWA, Haruko “Dorothy” of Cobourg, Ontario

AshikawaDorothyBorn in Vancouver on the 25th day of April, 1921.  Haruko died peacefully with family at her side on February 1, 2014 in Cobourg, Ontario.  Widow of Shige, mother of Gord (Debbie) and Linda (Peter Hustler), Bachan to Sandy, John, Corinne, Gord, Bevan, Luke and Jesse and Obachan to Abby and Alex.

The child of a successful merchant and land owner in the Japanese section of downtown Vancouver, Haruko was relocated during WWII along with virtually all west coast Japanese Canadians.  Starting with virtually nothing in Toronto after WWII she married Shige and became the financial administrator of the family earnings.  With incomes from relatively modest employment she was able to manage the family’s financing so that husband Shige could retire early, they could enjoy a quite comfortable lifestyle and they could move to Cobourg to be Bachan and Jichan to Linda’s children and an integral part of the family.

One of Bach’s most enduring gifts was passing on Japanese cuisine to succeeding generations.  In order to protect the new generation many of the Japanese who settled in Toronto after WWII decided that they should assimilate rather than settle in one section of the city.  Friends from the west coast developed a tradition on New Years day of visiting those homes where the hostess offered a variety of Japanese delicacies: Bachan’s home was a favourite meeting place.

Preparation would take days.  Squid and octopus salads, raw tuna, Japanese chow mein and spareribs, perfectly cooked salmon teriyaki, a wonderful chicken custard soup and a variety of sushi offerings were just some of the twenty or more dishes spread before those who dropped by to wish a Happy New Year and renew old acquaintances.

After moving to Cobourg Bach passed on the recipes to Linda (who later took over the New Years tradition) and to Linda’s children.  Grandson Gord could be a sushi chef anywhere, granddaughter Sandy seems poised to carry on the New Year’s tradition, Corinne always provides new and interesting Japanese delicacies from the “old cook books” and grandson John is always the first to show up as the official taste tester.

While they all miss their Bachan they are comforted by the fact that Bach left us knowing that the tradition was in good hands.

At Haruko’s request there will be no ceremony, the family asks that no flowers be sent.  Those wishing to do so might make a financial gift to the Northumberland Hills Hospital.  A reception in Toronto will be announced at a later date. Condolences received at

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