Further Reading

From: The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples/Sikhs/Hugh Johnston

A classic history of the Sikhs is Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, 2 vols. (Oxford, U.K., 1977); a more recent and revisionist perspective can be found in J.S. Grewal, The Sikhs of the Punjab (Cambridge, U.K., 1990). W.H. McLeod, The Evolution of the Sikh Community: Five Essays (Oxford, 1976), offers a masterful and provocative reinterpretation of Sikh history within merely 100 pages, and W. Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi, The Sikhs: Their Religious Belief and Practices (London, 1978), is an excellent and comprehensive introduction to Sikhism. The political culture of the Sikhs has been described in Richard G. Fox, Lions of the Punjab: Culture in the Making (Berkeley, Calif., 1985), and Rajiv Kapur, Sikh Separatism: The Politics of Faith (London, 1986).

N. Gerald Barrier and Verne A. Dusenbery, The Sikh Diaspora: Migration and the Experience beyond Punjab (Columbia, Mo., 1989), contains essays on Sikhs in Britain, the United States, and Canada. Two books on Sikhs in Britain are particularly instructive for students of Sikhs in Canada: Arthur W. Helweg, Sikhs in England: The Development of a Migrant Community (New Delhi, 1979), and Alan G. James, Sikh Children in Britain (London, 1974). Sikhs in California have always had a close relationship to those in British Columbia, as noted in Joan M. Jensen, Passage from India: Asian Indian Immigrants in North America (New Haven, Conn., 1988); Bruce W. La Brack, The Sikhs of Northern California: 1904–1986 (New York, 1988); and Karen Leonard, “Marriage and Family Life among Early Asian Indian Immigrants,” Population Review, vol.125 (1981), 67–75.

While Sikhs dominate the South Asian story in Canada, they are just one of many groups with origins in India. For the larger picture of South Asian immigration, see Norman Buchignani and Doreen M. Indira, Continuous Journey: A Social History of South Asians in Canada (Toronto, 1985); Hugh Johnston, East Indians in Canada, (Ottawa, 1984); and S. Chandrasekhar, ed., From India to Canada: A Brief History of Immigration – Problems of Discrimination, Admission and Assimilation (La Jolla, Calif., 1986). Peter Ward, White Canada Forever: Popular Attitudes and Public Policy towards Orientals in British Columbia (Montreal, 1974), includes aspects of the South Asian experience while treating the problem of discrimination against Asians.

Studies of the early Sikh experience in Canada include Rajani Kant Das, Hindustanee Workers on the Pacific Coast (Berlin, 1923); Annamma Joy, Ethnicity in Canada: Social Accommodation and Cultural Persistence among the Sikhs and Portuguese (New York, 1989); Hugh Johnston, “Patterns of Sikh Migration to Canada, 1900–1960,” in Sikh History and Religion in the Twentieth Century, edited by Joseph T. O’Connell et al. (Toronto, 1988), 296–313, and Brij Lal, “East Indians in British Columbia, 1904– 1914: A Historical Study in Growth and Integration” (M.A. thesis, University of British Columbia, 1976).

A number of studies focus on Sikhs in Vancouver: Hugh Johnston, “The Development of the Punjabi Community in Vancouver since 1961,” Canadian Ethnic Studies, vol.20, no. 2 (1988), 1–19; James G. Chadney, The Sikhs of Vancouver (New York, 1984); Verne Dusenbery, “Canadian Ideology and Public Policy: The Impact on Vancouver Sikh Ethnic and Religious Adaptation,” Canadian Ethnic Studies, vol.8, no.3 (1981), 101–20; Michael Graeme Campbell, “The Sikhs of Vancouver: A Case Study in Minority-Host Relations” (M.A. thesis, University of British Columbia, 1977); and Adrian C. Mayer, “A Report on the East Indian Community in Vancouver” (Vancouver, 1959). For a reliable abridgment of many of these sources and others, see Narinder Singh, Canadian Sikhs: History, Religion and Culture of Sikhs in North America (Ottawa, 1994).

Mahinder Singh Dhillon, A History Book of the Sikhs in Canada and California (Vancouver, 1981), provides a disorganized but invaluable collection of material obtained during visits to Canadian Sikh communities in 1979. For a book of documents from gurdwara records and elsewhere, see Kesar Singh, Canadian Sikhs (Part One) and the Komagata Maru Massacre (Vancouver, 1989). Two autobiographical accounts give insights into the Sikh immigrant experience: Sadhu Singh Dhami, Maluka: A Novel (New Delhi, 1978); and Tara Singh Bains and Hugh Johnston, The Four Quarters of the Night: The Life-Journey of an Emigrant Sikh (Montreal, 1995).

The central incident in the early history of the Sikhs in Canada is presented in Hugh Johnston, The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada’s Colour Bar (Delhi, 1979). This incident forms part of the story of the Ghadr movement, for which one can begin with Harish K. Puri, Ghadr Movement: Ideology, Organization and Strategy (Amritsar, 1983); and Laxman Prasad Mathur, Indian Revolutionary Movement in the United States of America (Delhi, 1970). For a related study of the movement which focuses on Canada, see Hugh Johnston, “The Surveillance of Indian Nationalists in North America 1908– ,” B.C. Studies, vol.78 (1988), 2–27.

Insight into the meaning of caste and family among Canadian Sikhs can be gained by examining Archana B. Verma, “Status and Migration among the Punjabis of Paldi, British Columbia and Paldi, Punjab” (Ph.D. thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1994). Several studies look at Sikh family life and family values and gender issues in Canada. Two were researched in the early 1970s: Michael M. Ames and Joy Inglis, “Conflict and Change in British Columbia Sikh Family Life,” B.C. Studies, vol.20 (1973), 15–49; and R.P. Shrivastava, “Family Organization and Change among the East Indians of British Columbia,” in The Family in India: A Regional View, edited by George Kurian (The Hague, 1974). This is complemented by the more recent work of Paramjit S. Judge, “Patriarchy and Women’s Status: A Study of Punjabi Immigrant Women in Canada,” Trends in Social Science Research, vol.11, no.1 (1995) and Punjabis in Canada: A Study of Formation of an Ethnic Community (Delhi, 1994).