07 Nov Rattan Singh Mahairu (husband of Ishar Kaur Mahairu, nee Banga)
Rattan Singh Mahairu arrived in Canada in the year 1956 after taking a flight from Delhi to Calcutta and then finally to Vancouver. 1956 was the same year that he also married his wife, Mrs. Ishar Kaur Mahairu, daughter of Nand Singh Banga. Upon his arrival to British Columbia, Rattan Singh realized that there was a vast difference in Canadian culture versus Indian culture. Some things however, remained the same when he arrived in Canada. Though it may not seem very significant now, one of the first things Rattan Singh was dismayed to see was that the houses in Canada also did not have heat and there was no hot water so instead they were forced to boil the water. During the 50’s and 60’s few people could afford heating systems in their houses until people began purchasing oil heaters in the late 1960’s.
In his family, it was his father-in-law’s father, Mr. Thakur Singh Banga who was the first pioneer to come to Canada in the year 1920. Thus, Rattan Singh’s wife Isher Kaur was born in British Columbia, New Westminster. Soon after his arrival in British Columbia, Rattan took a great interest in local politics and issues as he was elected the secretary for the Abbotsford Gur Sikh Temple in 1958. During this time, there were approximately 15-20 Indo-Canadian families in total in both Mission and Abbotsford. When Rattan Singh became the secretary of the Khalsa Diwan Society, Abbotsford Gur Sikh Temple, he was very proud and humbled that he was the only keshdari (ie. baptized Sikh) at the time. He refused to succumb to the discriminations of the time and cut his hair and remove his turban. Rattan felt as though he were continuing the family tradition of seva to the gurdwara because his father-in-law, Mr. Nand Singh Banga, had been one of the very few men at the time who actually helped to build the Gur Sikh Temple from 1908 until its completion in 1911. Today, both Rattan Singh and Isher Kaur are happily retired and live in Burnaby, B.C.