Manjit Dhami

Date of Birth:
Punjab, India
Current City:
Golden, BC

Manjit Singh Dhami was born in India on November 14, 1966, moving to Canada in 1979 at the young age of twelve. His great-grandfather was one of the first waves of migrants to come to Canada from South Asia in 1906 followed by his grandfather who arrived in Canada in 1934. Manjit studied in a boarding school in India for eight years, primarily because his parents wanted him to be well-versed with the Punjabi language and culture. Upon reaching the eighth grade, Manjit moved to Canada as a permanent resident where his father was working at the mills in Donald.

Manjit’s great-grandfather lived in the Vancouver, BC area, arriving in Canada on a boat with a couple of his friends. His great-grandfather did not have anyone to go to and he had to eat potatoes for two months to survive. Later, his grandfather decided to head over to Vancouver in 1947. Then his grandfather moved back to India, where he resided for a few years. Upon his return to Canada, his grandfather moved north to Golden, BC, as he had heard about job opportunities at a local mill. Unfortunately, the mill caught on fire, so Manjit’s grandfather had to move back to Vancouver. Meanwhile, Manjit’s father moved to Canada in 1969.

Manjit recalls trying to rapidly adapt to the Canadian culture when he started school here. He found it difficult to understand English as he felt people would speak quickly. Manjit headed over to Calgary for one and a half years to pursue a post-graduate education in electrical engineering but he did not finish the program. He moved back to Golden, BC, where he has been living with his family ever since. Eventually, he decided to enter the hospitality industry, purchasing ‘The Old Days Inn’ in Golden in the year 1989. Later, in 2001, they expanded and built a local Ramada hotel. When Manjit came to Golden in 1979 he realized that there was no Gurdwara nearby and so people would get married or organize functions in the halls around the city. It was only after the local Gurdwara was built, in the 1980’s, that the Punjabi community in Golden started celebrating festivals, such as Diwali and Vaisakhi.

Manjit experienced some discrimination and racism in his early days of living in Canada, including being called a ‘Hindu’ by a neighbour. But, the atmosphere changed in the later years, with people becoming friendlier. He recalls that his grandfather would enjoy his weekends by getting together with the Punjabi locals next to Waitabit Creek in the town. Here, they would cook food on a barbecue, listen to music, and spend quality time with each other. Sometimes if the Punjabi community wanted to host functions or weddings, they would rent out a log house. Manjit recalls Golden having a diverse population of Europeans, Italians, Chinese, and South Asians during the 1970’s.

Manjit is currently a member of the Tourism Board of Golden as well as the local snowmobiling society. He proudly calls himself a Canadian Sikh and says his parents are true Sikhs who are Indians by heart. Every 2-3 years, he travels to India, and hopes for his children to have a good life and great health, as well as be self-motivated and do whatever they feel is best for them.