Gurdit Singh, Bilga (1888-1968)

Gurdit Singh, from Bilga near Nurmahal, Jallunder, Punjab, was a Sikh pioneer in British Columbia and a member of the Shore Committee at the time of the Komagata Maru. He came to Canada on the SS Empress of India in July 1906 and played a leading role in the Vancouver Sikh community throughout the rest of his life. His name is prominent over the years in the activities of theVancouver Sikh Gurdwara, the Hindustani Home Rule League of Canada, the Doaba Sudar Society of Canada and the U.S., and among those active in raising funds for the legal defence of the Sikh nationalist and martyr Bhagat Singh. He went into business as a lumberman and owned the Sun Rise Wood and Coal Company on Main Street in Vancouver. During the depression he returned to India for three years and attracted police attention both for his support of the non-violent Congress movement as well as for the officially banned Babbar Akali radical organization. In 1957, he was president of the Vancouver Khalsa Diwan Society, and in the 1960s he was vice-president of the building committee for the new gurdwara which was completed after his death in 1970, and replaced the original gurdwara on 2nd Avenue.

 Sources: The Ghadr Directory, 1934, Compiled by the Director, Intelligence Bureau, Home Department, Government of India (Published, Patiala: Punjabi University, 1997);  Library and Archives Canada, “Note on Hindu Revolutionaries in Canada Prepared from Mr. Cory by the Immigration Department,” March 1919,  Immigration Files, RG 76, vol. 386, file 536999, pt. 11.  March 1919; Mahinde Dingh Dhillon, A History Book of the Sikhs in Canada and California (Vancouver: Shriomani Akali Dal Association of Canada, 1981).