Special Walking Tour of Sikh History in Kitsilano


Vancouver Heritage Foundation is a registered charity supporting the conservation of heritage buildings and structures in recognition of their contribution to the city’s economy, sustainability and culture.
Gurdwara Front Steps, 1866 West 2nd Ave, Kitsilano c. 1950s. Photo courtesy of the Kohaly Collection at Simon Fraser University.

In 2011 when VHF first asked the public to nominate sites around the City of Vancouver for a Places That Matter plaque project, we had no idea what stories and histories would be shared with us, and as part of this site-specific project, how heritage buildings that were no longer standing would be remembered beyond the initial celebration. On September 15, 2012, we celebrated the historic site of the First Sikh Gurdwara Temple in Canada at 1866 W. 2nd (now 1860) when two Places That Matter plaques were installed (one in English and one in Punjabi) along with an archival photo (pictured above). This historic site was also included in our 2014 Historic Kitsilano Map Guide and we wanted to offer a special walking tour to explore the story of the 1905 Gurdwara (Temple) and Sikh history in Kitsilano.

First Sikh Temple plaque 44
100 people in attendance to see the unveiling of the 2 Places That Matter plaques at the site of the First Sikh Temple on 2nd Avenue. Sept 15, 2012. VHF Photo
Well before the Kitsilano we know today, Kits was a multi-ethnic community built around the lumber industry when sawmills lined False Creek. VHF is offering a special walking tour, as part of our Historic Kitsilano series, on Sunday, September 20th from 11am-1pm$15 adults, $9 students with valid ID (includes tax). Register here.
Naveen Girn, Curator and Community Engagement Specialist, who is featured in VHF’s Restoring Community Documentary and Paneet Singh, Filmmaker and Researcher, will be sharing stories of the early South Asian community in Kitsilano centred around the first Gurdwara in North America. During the walking tour they will point out the homes of prominent business people and political activists, activism which links to larger movements for Independence taking place in North America and India. You’ll learn the little known story of the aftermath of the Komagata Maru and how it played out in the streets of Kitsilano. The pioneering families who lived in Kits created a strong foundation for the Sikh community in the face of key struggles such as; regaining the right to vote, immigration reform, and labour movements. Discover the many prominent women in the community and the legacies they have left.
Don’t miss this special walking tour which will be sure to change your view of Historic Kitsilano.