Paldi Sikh Temple (2nd Oldest Gurdwara In Canada)
23 Paldi Rd, Cowichan Station
Vancouver Island, BC
Paldi is a settlement on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It is in proximity to Duncan. This town included an Indo-Canadian community, and in 1973-1974 Paldi was the only Sikh enclave of any kind in all of Canada.
Mayo Singh (1888-1955) founded the town, naming it after his hometown, Paldi, Hoshiarpur, Punjab. Singh, originally named Maiya Singh Manhas
The History of Paldi:
The community of Paldi is located eleven kilometers northwest of Duncan, and was known as Mayo for about the first thirty years.
When Mayo Singh Manhas was seventeen years old and living in the village of Paldi in Punjab, India, he heard that in Canada there were many opportunities for a young man. His older brother and cousins had already immigrated to Canada.
In late 1906 he arrived in Canada and started to work as a lumber stacker at the sawmill near Abbottsford. In 1916, with his experience and knowledge of lumber business, he and his relatives leased a sawmill at Rosedale near Chilliwack. It is proved to be a successful, and by 1917 they had bought their own mill at Strawberry Hill near New Westminster
Wanting to make a fresh start in a new location, he came to Vancouver Island. He acquired the defunct Island Lumber Co., which was located in the Cowichan Valley. He moved machinery and equipment to the site, which became Paldi. A camp was established, and logging operations were begun. In 1918 Mayo Singh invited three Japanese men, with whom he had worked in Chilliwack, to come to Paldi to work for him.
As the lumber industry expanded, so did the community continued to grow. It became a mixed community of East Indians, Japanese, Chinese and Caucasians, but only the Japanese men had their families with them. Not until the late 1920’s did East Indian families begin to arrive. By that time there was a mill, a company store, bunkhouses for workers and housing for families. A school had been established in 1921 and in that same year the second Sikh temple on Vancouver Island was constructed in Paldi (the first had been built in Victoria in 1912). A Japanese temple was eventually constructed as well. East Indian and Japanese children would attend language classes at their respective temples after school. The community contented to grow steadily, even through the great depression, and in spite of the fact that the mill temporarily close down from 1931-1933. At its peak, Paldi had a population capable of supporting it’s own high school.
With the advent of W.W.II all Japanese were evacuated from the coast. May Singh closed down the sawmill in Paldi from 1945-46 but continued to operate two others. Once the war had ended, Japanese families gradually began to return to Paldi. Over the years, the East Indian community tried to preserve Sikh culture in Paldi. Mayo Singh died in 1955. His contribution to the Cowichan Valley was not only the establishment of a flourishing lumber industry, but included generous donations to hospitals and schools.
Now this place only has a sikh temple ( Gurudwara Sahib ji ) which is going to be 100 years old in 2019 .