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

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

byHugh 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 of the British Empire and force entry into Canada. They were anchored off Vancouver for over two months, enduring extreme physical privation and harrassment by immigration officials, but defying federal deportation orders even when the Canadian government attempted to enforce them with a gunboat.

The leaders of the group, who were thought to be closely associated with the nationalist, terrorist movement in India, were finally persuaded to return to India. They were by then full of revolutionary fervour against the Raj. On their disembarkation at Calcutta, troops opened fire while attempting to control the passengers, and a number of them were killed. The event, which had already raised a great deal of interest and concern among the governments of India and Canada, was now invested for Indian nationalists with a tragic significance which can be compared to that of Jallianwallah Bagh, while Gurdit Singh, the leader, was acclaimed as a heroic revolutionary figure by eminent Congressmen.

The author has produced the first thoroughly researched study of a stirring event, basing it on official accounts from both the Canadian and Indian sides, as well as the reminiscences of the only passenger still alive at the time the book was written. Apart from its interest for the student of the Indian nationalist movement, this book has obvious relevance for those interested in race relations and the history 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). Hugh J.M. Johnston is a professor emeritus in history at Simon Fraser University. Among his publications are two other books on Punjabis in Canada, The ...
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

Johnston 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, 1981