A solid engineering background, commitment to meet deadlines and budgets, and a team approach are some of the things Henry Wakabayashi has brought to some of British Columbia’s most important public projects including North East Coal, the first phase of SkyTrain and the expansion of the Vancouver International Airport.
Interned as a child during WW II because of his Japanese ancestry, he made a name for himself as a basketball player in Kamloops before graduating from UBC in 1958 with a degree in chemical engineering. Jobs in his chosen field were scarce, so he took a job at the Pacific National Exhibition selling motorcycles and other consumer products made by the Mitsubishi company. He eventually conceived and built the Crestbrook Pulp and Paper mill in Skookumchuk, British Columbia – the first major joint venture by Japanese and Canadian interests.
He became well known as a successful manager of mega-projects and has played a major role in construction of large projects throughout British Columbia through his company Pacific Liaicon and Associates Inc.
Henry Wakabayashi has been involved in charitable work of many kinds, particularly to further the relationship between Canadians generally and those of Japanese ancestry. The Momiji Garden in Vancouver and Nikkei Cultural Centre recently completed in Burnaby stand as physical testaments to his hard work and dedication in building bridges of cultural harmony. He has also been a strong leader and spokesman for healing the bitter memories and potential frictions emanating from the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.