Mohan Singh Dhami
Date of Birth:
Chak Chela, Jalandhar, Punjab
Mohan Singh Dhami was born on July 30, 1945 in Chak Chela, Jalandhar in Punjab, India in his maternal grandparent’s home. His father got him married at the age of 18 in 1962 and first moved to Canada in 1934 and later applied for Mohan’s residency. Mohan Singh immigrated to Canada on October 31, 1967. He remembers seeing a lot of mountains on his way from Vancouver to Donald on November 2, 1967 and feeling caged among the mountains. His father’s friend came to pick him up at the airport in Vancouver as his father lived in Donald. Mohan Singh stayed at their house for two nights and on the weekend his father came to pick him up in his car. Mohan Singh met his father after 16 years and for the first two or three years, Mohan Singh did not feel comfortable in Canada.
Mohan Singh started adjusting in Canada once he made a few Indian friends. His father got him a job in the mills the next day and they lived in the bunk houses. For meals, they would cook in the cook house for the bunk house residents. Mohan Singh didn’t face many difficulties as his father was settled here; however, he found it difficult to work when the temperatures would go below – 40 degrees. Since they needed the money, they had no choice but to work in such conditions. During that time, there was no connection available to call home and so his father used to send a letter every six month about his well being. It usually took about two to three months for a letter to deliver from Canada to India. There were only about 30 Punjabi people living in Golden at the time and no families at all. During this early period people came to Golden by themselves. Today, Mohan Singh observes that there are about 150 families living in Golden. Festivals were celebrated in cookhouses, but it wasn’t the way they were celebrated back home.
Mohan Singh missed India a lot. He goes back to visit every year now that he has retired, but even when he was working he would visit every two or three years. Since the Golden Sikh Temple was built in 1980, whenever someone passed away, the Punjabi community would go the church and they took the body to Salmon Arm or Kamloops for the last rites. As for weddings, they were conducted in Logan vala hall and the Holy Book was brought in from Kamloops. Mohan Singh explained how men and women never celebrated together because everyone followed Indian customs.
When Mohan Singh first came to Canada, he missed India but now Canada feels like his own country.