Becoming Canadian: Pioneer Sikhs In Their Own Words

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Section 2

As freight was there main concern, passenger services and accommodations were poor on these shipping lines. The journey to
Mr.Kuldeep Singh Bains
Mr.Kuldeep Singh Bains
Hong Kong could take anywhere from fifteen to twenty days depending on the number and length of the stopovers. The fair was about $20 - $30 Canadian. Living conditions were substandard since these ship all carried livestock throughout Asia. " They gave you the bottom grade, the basement, " Gurdave Billian says. " Thatís the only place they had. " Kuldeep Bains describes the conditions: " Before we left, we had to buy some groceries, portable beds, a stove and some coal. We prepared our own meal on the deck, we slept on the deck. There were no staterooms at all. There must have been over a hundred Sikhs staying on the deck. All night long and day long we stay on the deck. If it rained, we would put a little tent up there. We made our own meals there. There was a small dispensary, I think there was a doctor on board too, he gave me some pills. I got sick, I had never seen the ocean in my whole life. "

Mr. Dedar Sahota and his brother and father " happened to becoming across at the time of the monsoon rains and the typhoon weather. We hit very, very heavy seas, but that didnít keep me away from the deck very often. This would have been
Mr. Dedar Singh Sahota
Mr. Dedar Singh Sahota
September, October, because we got here in December and we spent some time in Hong Kong. It wasnít a very large ship, we were down in the hold of the ship and we of course had all our bedding, all our food and all our cooking things. You had to carry all that with you. "

" In the heavy, heavy seas I can remember the people on one side of the deck just sliding across the flat deck to the other side as the shipped rolled. And then when it reversed the roll everybody sifted to the other side of the deck. All your belongings, all your utensils, yourself, all kind of slid from one side to the other. Ever since then Iíve never seen such heavy seas. The waves must have been twenty to thirty feet high and the ship wasnít that large anyway. As the ship dove into the hollow all you could see all round was water. And when it got to the top all you could see was the sky, you couldnít see the water at all. "

Mr. Sardara S. Gill, who made the trip in 1925, remembers that " there were about thirty to forty Sikhs altogether, five or six ladies too. There were about twenty Canadian Sikhs and about twenty of us newcomers on board. The women and children were all newcomers. On the deck, because it was hot we made shelter in the form of a platform to provide shade. Under this we set our cots. There were lots of Chinese, maybe three hundred to four hundred, I donít know from where they came, maybe Calcutta. Their ladies were with them. Underneath there was a lot of cargo, some sheep and animals. There was a bad smell but we did not go down there. We had brought groceries from Calcutta and did our own cooking on the deck on small coal stoves. The men did all the cooking, all the old timers knew how to cook. They had been cooking while they were in Canada. I didnít do any, I did not know how to, Iíd always had it all done for me. "

cont...

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