The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada's Colour Bar by Hugh J. M. JohnstonThe Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada's Colour Bar by Hugh J. M. Johnston

The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada's Colour Bar

byHugh J. M. Johnston


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In May 1914, 400 Sikhs left for British Columbia by chartered ship,resolved to claim their right to equal treatment with white citizens ofthe British Empire and force entry into Canada. They were anchored offVancouver for over two months, enduring extreme physical privation andharrassment by immigration officials, but defying federal deportationorders even when the Canadian government attempted to enforce them witha gunboat.

The leaders of the group, who were thought to be closely associatedwith the nationalist, terrorist movement in India, were finallypersuaded to return to India. They were by then full of revolutionaryfervour against the Raj. On their disembarkation at Calcutta, troopsopened fire while attempting to control the passengers, and a number ofthem were killed. The event, which had already raised a great deal ofinterest and concern among the governments of India and Canada, was nowinvested for Indian nationalists with a tragic significance which canbe compared to that of Jallianwallah Bagh, while Gurdit Singh, theleader, was acclaimed as a heroic revolutionary figure by eminentCongressmen.

The author has produced the first thoroughly researched study of astirring event, basing it on official accounts from both the Canadianand Indian sides, as well as the reminiscences of the only passengerstill alive at the time the book was written. Apart from its interestfor the student of the Indian nationalist movement, this book hasobvious relevance for those interested in race relations and thehistory of immigration laws within the British Empire.

Hugh Johnston is a professor of history at Simon Fraser University and co-editor (with Robin Fisher) of From Maps to Metaphors: The Pacific World of George Vancouver (UBC Press, 1993).
Title:The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada's Colour BarFormat:PaperbackDimensions:176 pages, 8.44 × 5.39 × 0.48 inPublisher:Ubc Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0774803401

ISBN - 13:9780774803403

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Table of Contents


1. Exclusion

2. Encouragement

3. Departure

4. Arrival

5. Delay

6. The Court of Appeal

7. Force

8. Intimidation

9. Return

10. Arrest and Detention

11. Surrender

12. Assassination




Editorial Reviews

A beautiful job, piecing together materials from Canadian, British and Indian archives and from personal interviews, and organizing them into a lucid, very readable account of this shameful event in our past.? Patricia Roy, BC Studies, 1981Johnston has constructed a magnificent montage of the early Sikh immigration from India to Canada in the first two decades of the twentieth century. In an evocative prose Johnston moves from personalities to events and then with great ease he links the two together to provide a powerful insight into the imperial policies. He lays bare the the hypocricy, the ruthlessness and the shallow liberalism of the British Raj.? Indian Book Chronicle, 1981Johnston's unravelling of the whole Komagata epic is dramatic, absorbing and must be a revelation to Vancouverites, who have never realized what murky seas of international intrigue that rickety ship was floating on in the city's harbor for two months ... Johnston writes history correctly, accurately and exhaustively. Also, entertainingly ... A considerable feat of scholarship.? Alan Morley, The Vancouver Sun