This brief time line lists some key points in the histories of South Asians in Canada. An amazingly detailed timeline has been prepared by researchers and historians at Simon Fraser University (SFU).
1757: The East India Company rule in India
1857: Indian Rebellion (also known as the 1857 War of Independence, India’s First War of Independence, the Great Rebellion, the Sepoy Rebellion and the Sepoy Mutiny)
1858: British Raj begins (British rule in India)
1900: Census indicates that there are 2000 Indians in Canada
1906: 2,100 Indians migrate to Canada
1907: 2,623 Indians migrate to Canada
1907: Indians barred from voting in general elections (Statue of British Columbia, c. 16)
1907: Asiatic Exclusion League formed in Vancouver
1908: 6 Indians migrate to Canada
1908, January 8: Privy Council (P.C) 1908-27 comes into effect (Order in Council pertaining to the Continuous Journey requirement)
- rewritten on March 27, 1908 as P.C. 1908-662
- rewritten on May 27, 1908 as P.C. 1908-932
- replaced on May 9, 1910 as P.C. 1910-920
- replaced through 1914 as P.C. 1914-23
1908, January 8: P.C. 1908-28 comes into effect (Order in Council pertaining to the money on possession upon landing requirement - $25 in summer, $50 in winter)
- rewritten on March 27, 1908 as P.C. 1908-656
- rewritten on June 2, 1908 as P.C. 1908-1255 with money in possession requirement increased to $200
- rewritten on May 9, 1910 as P.C. 1910-926
- replaced through 1914 as P.C. 1914-24
1910: New Immigration Act. Sections 38(a), (b) and (c) relate directly to impositions placed upon South Asians. Section 38(b) focuses in the continuous journey and landing money requirements while Section 38(c) allows Cabinet the ability to prohibit groups based on their race being deemed “unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada”1
1910, December: G.D. Kumar (secretary of Vancouver’s local Hindustani Association) writes to City Council, demanding the right to vote.
1913, October: 39 immigrants from India successfully challenge the Continuous Journey regulation in British Columbia’s Supreme Court 1913, December 8: Privy Council (P.C.) 1913-2642 comes into effect, prohibiting artisans or labourers to land at any port of entry in British Columbia on the grounds that the labour market of British Columbia was presently “overcrowded”
- continued in 1914 through P.C. 1914-897 and 1914-2455
1914, April 4: Komagata Maru departs Hong Kong with approximately 150 passengers, making stops in Shanghai (April 8), Moji (April 14) and Yokohama to pick up additional passengers
1914, April 14: Message sent from a German cable company to the German press announcing that the Komagata Maru was departing for Vancouver with “400 Indians on board”
1914, May 23: Komagata Maru arrives at British Columbia. Passengers are refused the right to disembark.
1914, May 30: Meeting hosted by the Khalsa Diwan Society, with hundreds of South Asians, some white allies, media persons and immigration staff are present. Several thousand dollars are raised. This is the beginning of the Shore Committee’s work.
1914, June 1: H. Rahim’s Editorial entitled “Welcome to Komagata Maru” published in Hindustanee – The Official Organ of the United India League (volume 1, no 5)
1914, June 11: The Shore Committee sends a large amount of food to the Komagata Maru passengers.
1914, June 21: Another meeting held, in support of the Komagata Maru passengers – 400 South Asians, and 125 white allies attend.
1914, June 23: Vancouver Mayor Truman Baxter organizes a public anti-Asian rally, where Conservative member for Vancouver City Henry Herbert (H.H.) Stevens speaks. Great applause to Stevens’ statements about white Canada.
1914, June 23: J. Edward Bird wires Prime Minister “was refused right to go on board Komagata Maru this morning to take instructions for test case.”
1914, June 29: Test case (Munshi Singh) in British Columbia Court of Appeal – the case argued by lawyer J. Edward Bird is defeated by the 5 judges
1914, July 8: Gurdit Singh wires Governor General: “Reid disallows my landing; unable to sue for damages amounting to $150,000”
1914, July 9: Validity of Privy Council (P.C.) 897 1914 (artisans and labourers) settled
1914, July 17: Time to carry out deportation order against passengers of Komagata Maru. Riot ensues on board, as passengers seize control of ship, preventing captain from weighing anchor
1914, July 19: Sea Lion (tug boat) with armed police and immigration officers approached the Komagata Maru to force the vessel to leave Vancouver Harbour. Seal Lion’s line was tied on to the Komagata Maru, while a passengers and officers collided. The line was cut eventually, and the tug retreated.
1914, July 21: Second date of departure of Komagata Maru, passengers still unprepared to give up control of ship.
1914, July 23: Komagata Maru departs, escorted out by HMCS Rainbow and Sea Lion
1914, August 4: Britain declares war on Germany
1914, August 11: Hopkinson reports that revolutionaries on pacific coast promoting general return of Indian immigrants tions to take up arms against British
1914, September 27: Komagata Maru arrives at Houghly (Hoogly) near Calcutta (now Kolkata)?, and the Baj Baj (Budge Budge) incident occurs. 20 passengers killed; 1 drowned; 9 injured; 202 arrested; 62 got on train to Punjab; 28 unaccounted for.
1914, October 21: Hopkinson killed at Vancouver Court House
1919: Indians now allowed to sponsor wives and children to migrate to Canada
1921: Census shows that there are 1,016 South Asians across Canada
1947: Indians in Canada allowed to vote
1951: Quota regulating how many Indians could migrate to Canada set at 150 per year
1951: Gurdit Singh writes to Prime Minister of India Jawarhlal Nehru asking that a memorial to the passengers of the Komagata Maru be set up
1952, January 1: Memorial to the passengers of the Komagata Maru unveiled in Kolkata (known as Calcutta (now Kolkata) at the time)
1957: Quota of Indians allowed to migrate in Canada increased from 150 to 300 per year
1989, July 23: Plaque commemorating 75 years since the Komagata Maru left Burrard Inlet placed in Gurdwara in Vancouver
1994: Plaque commemorating 80 years since the Komagata Maru incident placed in Vancouver harbour
2008, May 23: Province of British Columbia issues a formal apology for the Komagata Maru incident
2008, August: Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologizes for the Komagata Maru incident at a the Gadri Babiyan da Mela community event in Bear Creek Park, Surrey, British Columbia
2008, October: Oscar-nominated filmmaker Deepa Mehta announces that she will be producing a feature film based on the Komagata Maru incident 2011, November 2: Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer (British Columbia) made a motion to urge the government to officially apologize to the South Asian Community and to the individuals impacted in the Komagata Maru Incident
2012, April 4: Member of Parliament Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North, British Columbia) puts forward a motion that Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally apologize for the Komagata Maru incident in the House of Commons