Like many young Sikhs, 22-year-old Gurdipta Mal Pallan left his homeland in 1904 with three friends to come to B.C. to work and prosper in the lumber camps on Vancouver Island.
Prosper he did. Once he arrived, Pallan settled in Victoria’s lumber mill town, where he would work until he retired. Throughout his life, Pallan had one wish – that his children be successful, independent business people.
In 1953, Pallan invested money so that his eldest son, Kundan Lal Pallan, could start his own logging company in Campbell River. Today, Pallan Timber Products is a multi-million dollar company that is still going strong.
Yet, life wasn’t easy for Pallan.
When he immigrated, he left behind his young wife Karamdai Pallan in Punjab. Pallan thought that once he was settled and earning a good income, he would have his wife and his young children join him in his adopted country.
Although he went back to India twice – the first time in 1906 and again from 1914 to 1920 – his dream of having his wife beside him would never be realized.
Karamdai never made it to the new land. In 1949, when she was only 60-year-old, Karamdai died in a house fire.
“Mom finally had her passport and was excited about joining dad and us, but then the accident happened,” says his youngest son Mukand Pallan. “For years, dad was heartbroken.”
Another dream of his was that they enjoy their retirement in the large 14-room home he built himself (the biggest one in his village of Jandiala).
Pallan spent the rest of his life working as a planer feeder in sawmills and making sure his children were well looked after. As he got older, his pride and joy were his many grandchildren and volunteering at the Khalsa Diwan Society of Victoria.
In 1964, Pallan passed away at the age of 80.