Early Links

The links between Concord and Hokkaido were established in the nineteenth century.

William Wheeler: Concord's First Link to Hokkaido

In 1990 Massachusetts formalized a sister state relationship with Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido. This culminated a long history with Hokkaido going back to 1876 when then President of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts) William Clark went to Hokkaido to found the Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University). In the 1870's Japan had been open to the West for only a short time and Hokkaido was similar to the United States' new territories. Many Americans helped Japan learn Western ways and helped in the settling of Hokkaido. Governors Dukakis, Weld and Celluci have been supportive of the Massachusetts-Hokkaido Sister State relationship.

Concord's relationship with Hokkaido began with Clark's mission through Concordian William Wheeler who was Clark's assistant and who took over the running of the college on Clark's return. Wheeler's many contributions to Hokkaido were acknowledged by the Emperor with the Fifth Order of the Rising Sun.

Among his many contributions to Hokkaido were the following:

Wheeler was a major contributor to Concord as well through his many engineering projects and years of public service. He built Concord's water and sewer systems, including the water works at Sandy Pond, Nashawtuc Hill, Annursnac Hill and Nagog Pond. He was elected positions such as the Water Commission, School Committee, Board of Health, Light Board, Free Public Library, Town Donations and Moderator. He was also a Trustee of the Massachusetts Agricultural College or the University of Massachusetts from 1880 to 1929, missing only a few years. In addition, he was responsible for bringing to Nashawtuc Hill its uniquely beautiful Japanese trees which were planted at his home then called Maru-Yama Kwan (Round-Hill House) after his time in Hokkaido.

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