Back in 1940, Indian weddings in the Lower Mainland were so rare that when Hazara Singh and Harvant Kaur Thaker were married in Vancouver, the occasion warranted full-page coverage in a national publication, **New World Illustrated **magazine. The 17-year-old bride and 19-year-old groom were married in the garage where Harvant's father, who ran a trucking business, usually kept his trucks.
"The garage was transformed into a lavishly decorated Sikh shrine," said the article in **New World Illustrated. **"Bright oriental carpets and tapestries covered the walls and floor."
"The wedding was beautiful," recalls Harvant. "It was one of the first Indian weddings in Vancouver so it was a real community event." The newlyweds lived in Paldi for a few months before moving to Vancouver, where they bought a duplex on 2nd Avenue for $900. "We lived in one side and rented the other for $10 a month," says Hazara. "We had Japanese tenants who stayed for a couple of years, until they left because of the war, when they were forced to move to internment camps."
A dollar went a lot further in those days, says Hazara, who earned 10 cents an hour from his job at a sawmill. "With one dollar, you could go shop in downtown, eat in a restaurant, ride on the bus, see a movie and come back home - and you would still have 50 cents in your pocket."
A few months after marrying Harvant, Hazara bought a truck and began a wood-selling business. He worked in a sawmill for 10 hours a day and sold wood on the side. "I would go house to house - $6 a day was good," he says. "If you made $10 a day, it was like being rich."
Hazara Singh Thaker was born in the village of Shankar, Nakodar district, Punjab, on June 15, 1913. He arrived in Canada in 1932 on board the Empress of Japan. He passed away on June 16, 2013, at the age of 100, predeceased on March 16, 2005, by his wife of 66 years, Harvant Kaur Thaker.