First Sikhs in Canada

Sikh labourers board a train in Vancouver, c.1900-10 (courtesy Sikhmuseum.com)

In 1897, Queen Victoria invited her Indian troops to attend her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London. These Sikh soldiers, having crossed Canada on their way home, returned to India with stories of an attractive land waiting to be settled by British subjects.
The first Sikhs came to Canada in 1902 as part of a Hong Kong military contingent travelling to the coronation of Edward VII. The first Sikh immigrants arrived in 1904 and by 1908, when an immigration ban was imposed, more than 5000 South Asians, over 90% of them Sikhs, had arrived in British Columbia. From then on, the population gradually dwindled to about 2000. Most who remained were Sikhs.

Despite discrimination, in British Columbia Sikhs quickly established a strong community centred around their religious institutions. The Vancouver Khalsa Diwan Society, created in 1907, established the first permanent gurdwara, or temple, in 1908. Within a decade, gurdwaras had been established in other communities, including Victoria, Nanaimo, New Westminster and Abbotsford.

Learn More: Sikhism in The Canadian Encyclopedia

Old Sikh Temple