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David Graham

$66,619.04 (raised so far)

About David Graham

David Mark Graham (1945-2012) was a Vancouver native and a double UBC alumnus with a life-long interest in Asia. He graduated from UBC with both a BA in English and a BArch in Architecture.

His interest in things Asian began with a six-week summer exchange programme to Japan in 1969. Following his return to his final year at the School of Architecture, his work on a collaborative thesis on Powell Street, the former Japantown of Vancouver, helped fuel his life-long passion.

Upon graduating from UBC in 1970, David went to Japan to further his studies in his chosen field. Living with a Japanese family in the traditional Tokyo neighbourhood of Tsukiji helped him gain conversational fluency in Japanese, which further led to his obtaining a position with Misawa Homes KK Ltd., a pioneering firm in the field of modularly-constructed houses.

Based on this experience with Misawa Homes, David was hired in 1973 to open the first Japanese office of the Council of Forest Industries of BC (COFI). During this time, which lasted until 1977, he was instrumental in the Japanese government legalizing the use of 2×4 lumber in the domestic construction industry, thus opening a new market for British Columbia.

David returned to Vancouver in 1977, and engaged in a number of projects related to forest products, architecture, and housing. He also participated in land development projects, and in 1984 founded his own company, Pacific Span Ventures, a freelance consultancy firm, specializing in promoting BC wooden construction products in Japan, which in later years expanded into the Korean market.

Due to his close connections with Japan, Japanese, and like-minded Canadians, in 1982 David became the founding president of the Vancouver Mokuyokai Society, which continues to this day as an important player in local Canada-Japan relations. This skill with Japanese affairs also led to his becoming closely involved with projects such as the construction of the UBC Asian Centre, the rejuvenation of the Nitobe Japanese Garden, and a proposal for a travelling exhibition of UBC’s Tokugawa map collection. As well, he was involved in events related to the Canada-Japan Society and the Konwakai, and was a keen supporter of the David Lam Centre at SFU.

However, David’s interests were not limited to Japan and Korea alone. He had broad and well-refined tastes in the arts and in those of the First Peoples of his native province in particular. This resulted in his final position, as a business manager of the Bill Reid Centre.

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The impact of your support

The David Mark Graham Memorial Fund honours David’s memory through the purchase of print materials for UBC’s Asian Library, focusing on traditional visual and material art and architecture of Northeast Asia, particularly Japan and Korea. Visit Support UBC Library to view the growing collection and memorial bookplate.

A love of books was one of David’s interests that lasted throughout his life. By supporting the acquisition of books for the Asian Library, your gift will be an appropriate tribute to his legacy.

Messages of Remembrance

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  • I first met David in Japan in 1971. He was so kind in guiding me, a naive, recent UBC grad, through the complexities and beauty of Japanese culture. He especially introduced me to the world of mingei, and remained my cultured friend right up to his death, and beyond.

    John Donald Redmond, friend
  • I met David when he was an architecture student at UBC. My associations with David was either social, or casual. While working on the Memorial for David for the past 6 months, I learned a lot about his interests, his work, and his involvement in the community. We all have different memories of David, and my most vivid memories will be of David, in our backyard in his casual outfit , laying paving stones and stomping it into place. I also remember sharing vacations with David, meals at his favourite restaurant or at home with his special family recipes. There are many happy memories, to be remembered and cherished.

    Ann Mew, friend
  • When I first met David, he had recently come back from a visit to Japan. When I first went to Japan, David, with my father’s uncle, met me in Tokyo. Many of my first explorations into the vast mega-city that is Tokyo were often with David---- he was much more adventuresome with his instincts and the Japanese language than I was. And he was living ‘native’ . When I introduced a very special friend to David, he later said to me that “She is ’cheeky’”. I thought she was ‘spunky’ . Months later, David was the first to know that I had proposed to her. Several years later, David attended Masami and my wedding in Tokyo and was the master of ceremonies for the reception which followed. He conducted the proceedings completely in Japanese and I believe that his easy and confident manner as he welcomed Masami to her future life in Canada somewhat eased the concerns of her family and relatives. Back in Vancouver, as Masami and I settled into our life here, David continued his travel and work in Asia and he kept us abreast of the changes he observed in Japan. He had an empathic yet critical view of Japan which we appreciated. He was a wonderful friend. And I think, up there, Masami is taking David to task for referring to her as ‘cheeky’. She has ‘spunk’.

    Arthur Yesaki, friend
  • In loving memory of my dear son, David.

    Kay Graham, Mother
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