BC Sikhs Celebrate Centennial

Posted by Daniel on Jan 12, 2011 - 6 comments

There has not been much posting lately. First the Christmas holiday season arrived, then the flu. But we are back in business, looking forward to a busy 2011 which will feature, among other things, Vancouver's 125th birthday.

Before we get to that, though, let's begin with another anniversary, this one a centennial. Sikhs are celebrating the first 100 years of the oldest surviving temple in British Columbia, possibly in North America. The Gur Sikh Temple in Abbotsford opened in 1911. Many Sikh immigrants had settled in the Valley community to work at the Abbotsford Lumber Company sawmill owned by the Trethewey family. It is believed that they were attracted to BC after hearing about it from Sikh soldiers who travelled by train across Canada in 1897 on their way to England to take part in the celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

The pioneer mill workers formed the nucleus of the temple, which was built with lumber donated by the company. In 2002 the federal government designated the temple a national historic site, the only Sikh temple outside India or Pakistan to enjoy such a designation. (Information about the year-long celebration of the centennial is available here.)