Alfred Denby (1879-1953) was a highly accomplished businessman based in Hakodate, who developed his father’s business, Denby & Co., into one of Hokkaido’s foremost companies. A fluent speaker of English, Russian, Japanese and Chinese, he persevered through the difficult period after the Russo-Japanese War and established a major salmon cannery on the east coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula.
When the Russian Revolution of 1917 broke out, Denby chose to defect to Japan. Together with Japanese partners, he managed a fishery company. While Denby would in due course move on, his company went on to become one of Japan’s most prominent fisheries. Denby then dedicated his career to marine product commerce, and became so successful that he received commendation from the city of Hakodate in 1930.
Denby’s Hakodate mansion is located on the right at the bottom of a slope from the tram stop, and this slope was once known as “Denby’s Slope”. Alfred Denby is one of the most iconic examples of Hakodate’s strong relationship with Russia.
Words by Masaharu Taniguchi
Translation by Xene Inc.