In Fraser Mills, like many immigrants, they socialized amongst themselves in their bunkhouses. They seldom went out since they had little time or money to spend on entertainment. Mawa Manget, who came to Canada in 1925 said, “there were only two families, the rest were all single men”.5 Ranjit Hall recalls his life at Fraser Mills; in 1924 when he was seven years old: “We played ghuli-dhanda (a Punjabi game) and we played other games with the grownups. They included me. I was the only kid around. I have a fond memory of Fraser Mills.” Ranjit Hall went to great lengths to get an education. He milked ten cows each morning before walking seven miles to his school in Pitt Meadows. After half a day of school, he
would then walk back home. “It was hard physical work. Sometimes I think that I should have never gone to university because it was blood, sweat and tears. In my last year I worked nine hours night shift, walk to Burnaby to take a street car to get to U.B.C., change my clothes to get to my first lecture at 8:30 a.m. each day. I wonder why I didn’t get the Governor General’s medal. I graduated in 1946.” After 1947 when more jobs opened up to Sikhs, Ranjit Hall got a job with Federal Government.”6
trying to restrict people of Asian background, allowing only a set number to immigrate. There was racism against people from India, the Komagata Maru incident being probably the worst example of this. Ironically, the Indians considered themselves British subjects and were very surprised at the treatment they received. Many did not enlist to fight in World War II because they were not considered Canadian citizens and subsequently got work clearing land, delivering firewood, sawdust, and groceries.
Sardara Gill who came to join his father said when he arrived “there were 200 to 300 Sikhs. It was a very good company. But for the wages, there was a 5 cent difference between us and white people. We got 25 cents an hour and the whites got 30 cents for the same job.”7
But despite the problems, many East Indians came to Canada anyway and worked in forestry and in the building of railroads. It was not until 1947 that they were allowed to vote, and race-based immigration ended in 1967. It would have been hard for those early immigrants to imagine such a large and thriving East Indian community where previously there had been so much hostility.
There were problems in Canada in the early 20th century, with the federal government
“there were 200 to 300 Sikhs. It was a very good company. But for the wages, there was a 5 cent difference between us and white people. We got 25 cents an hour and the whites got 30 cents for the same job.”
The Immigrants : Japanese, South Asian, Chinese and one family’s story
finger and then put his finger down onto the handkerchief and said “India”. The postmaster knew that he wanted to post a letter to India and gave him what he needed.”4
Published on Mar 3, 2017