Canadian Sikh Heritage | Inder Singh son of Dalip Singh (Chola Sahib)
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Inder Singh son of Dalip Singh (Chola Sahib)

A century ago when news spread in the Punjab that Canada has ‘opened’ its doors to migration many youngsters began their journey towards their dream land Canada. Most of them were Sikhs from the agrarian ‘Jat’ caste who were facing difficulties in agriculture under the rule of the British. Many, who had resigned from the army, travelled abroad with British army, were aware about the prosperity of Canada. So they became excited to earn money from this land. The Punjabi youths started migrating during the first decade of the twentieth century. Approximately 2000 persons landed at the port of Vancouver. These pioneers were very hard working and determined. A 19 years old, my grandfather, S. Inder Singh, son of S. Dalip Singh from the village Chohla Sahib, District Tarn Taran (Amritsar) landed at Victoria Harbour on 29th July 1913 along with his other companions including: Pala Singh, Mangal Singh, Thakur Singh, Hari Singh, Tara Singh, Badan Singh Kahari and Bhan Singh Kotli. The first Sikh Lady, who was also in their group was the wife of Surta Singh who was already settled in Canada. Her two sons were also with them. They all were arrested on arrival at the port. They reached Victoria in the Japanese ship Sadas Maru. On hearing of their arrest, the Punjabi community in Canada protested at large scale to relieve them. All were released on 1 August 1913.This was the first episode which encouraged other Punjabis to bring their families in Canada. Sardar Inder Singh lived in Port Moody, B.C. until October, 1913. After that he shifted to Toronto where he lived until October 1922 for a long period of nine years on 179 George Street, Toronto. Here he worked as dairy farmer. On October 1922 he moved to Vancouver B.C. and stayed there until October, 1928. After staying 15 years in Canada he returned back to India where he married Mrs. Balwant Kaur. After marriage he stayed at home in Punjab for two and half years and came back in Canada in May 1931. Here he stayed until November, 1934 in Ladner B.C. Before returning back to India he attained his status of Canadian Domicile. Sardar Inder Singh wanted to return to his dream land along with his wife and lonely son to settle in Canada forever. Although he extended his return journey to India until 1939 he tragically died in 1939 after a short illness. When he died his only son Ranjit Singh was two months old. After his death all the belongings were snatched away from his wife Balwant Kaur by his brothers. Though his widow has given away everything and lived a miserable life, she never lost heart. She possessed his passport and other documents and never parted away from herself. She kept them in her custody for a long period of 60 years. She never showed these documents to any one including her son Ranjit Singh. The other possession Mrs. Balwant Kaur kept safeguarded was a heavy trunk which her husband brought from Canada. Balwant Kaur died in 1999 and these documents were discovered from her trunk such as the passport and registration certificate issued by the Government of Canada.

The lonely son of Sardar Inder Singh, who joined the Haryana Police lived a good and honest life until 2004. He never thought of immigration because he did not know about his father’s status in Canada. Kashmir Singh Sandhu 91 81468 94700