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Asian Heritage Month Feature – The Sugimoto Family

by Ezra Ginsburg  |  May 29, 2024 1:00 pm

The Sugimotos are the quintessential hockey family.

Jane (17 years old), an excellent goaltender who played this past season for the Interlake Lightning U18 AAA, was recently invited to Hockey Manitoba’s Female U18 Program of Excellence Top-68 Camp which will take place from June 7 – 9 while her sister Eleanor (14 years old and also a goaltender who played this past season for the U15 Stonewall Blues) competed in the Female U16 POE Spring Evaluation Tournament in early April. The youngest of the three sisters, Claire (12 years old, defender for the U13 Stonewall Blues) participated in Hockey Manitoba’s U13 Female Prospects Tournament which was held from April 12 -14 in Portage la Prairie.

All three sisters began skating at the age of four and all three sisters play multiple sports. Jane and Eleanor both play rugby for Stonewall Collegiate, while Eleanor and Claire play softball for the Stonewall Bluejays.

Jane, Eleanor, and Claire are 3rd generation Canadians. Their great grandparents were both born in Japan. Great Grandmother Shimayo Sugimoto was born in Hiroshima-ken, Japan in 1906. Great Grandfather Seiji Sugimoto was born in Fukui, Japan in 1901.

Shimayo arrived in Canada in 1936, while Seiji arrived in Canada in 1918 when he was 17. Shimayo’s father, Umataro Doi, came to Canada to work in the mines around 1891. He was one of 10 miners who had their contracts renewed and resided in Cumberland BC. Shimayo and Seiji were married in Vancouver in 1937 and lived in Simoon Sound BC where Seiji worked as a logger.

During the Second World War, Seiji and Shimayo were split up and Shimayo was forcibly uprooted to an internment camp in Lemon Creek, BC and Seiji was sent to Neys, Ontario. After the war they reunited in Thunder Bay then moved to Geraldton, a small town in Northwestern Ontario, where Seiji worked again as a logger. Seiji tragically passed away when Jane, Eleanor and Claire’s grandfather William (Willy) was only 4 years old. Shimayo worked as a cleaner and raised five children on her own, a truly incredible feat.

William Sugimoto and his brothers all played hockey growing up. Jason Sugimoto, the father of Jane, Eleanor, and Claire, played hockey growing up in Geraldton along with his brother, and they were coached by their father William.

Jason played hockey for Seneca College in Toronto from 1999-2002 and won the Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) championship in his first year. Jason has coached all of his girls since they started playing hockey and previously served as the Director of Female Hockey for the Stonewall Minor Hockey Association.

The Sugimotos are truly an inspiration for all players and families of Asian descent and Hockey Manitoba is proud to acknowledge them for #AsianHeritageMonth.

Hockey Canada News
WHL News
Nov 2, 2005