Jab Singh Sidhoo

"On the ship from Calcutta to Hong Kong, the Indians had their own kitchen to make their chapatis and dahl."

Jab Sidhoo was only seven years old when, leaving his mother and siblings behind in Punjab, he made the long sea voyage from India to Canada in 1930. At the time, Sidhoo's father was living and working in Mayo Siding, a community that would later become Paldi, B.C. Jab's father arranged for his small son to travel with a family from the same Punjabi village who had a young son.

"We went on a train to Calcutta, and from there on a ship to Hong Kong," recalls Sidhoo. "On the ship from Calcutta to Hong Kong, the Indians had their own kitchen to make their chapatis and dahl. We stayed in Hong Kong for maybe a week at the Indian temple, where they had rooms for travellers. Then we took the American President line to Victoria. We were in steerage because it was the cheapest fare. We were kids, we didn't notice anything. We could go up on the deck. The captain was nice. He came to see us little kids and gave us toys."

Sidhoo lived on Vancouver Island until 1939, when he moved to Vancouver, where he attended Kitsilano High School and Vancouver Technical Secondary School. During the Second World War, Sidhoo served in the Air Force and was posted to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Dawson, Yukon and Prince Edward Island.

Following the war, he returned to Vancouver and founded East India Traders. The company imported everything from brassware and sporting goods to carpets and Kashmiri draperies for clients such as Woodward's, Eatons and The Hudson's Bay. By 1948, Sidhoo decided to narrow his focus to carpets and draperies.

It was during a buying trip to Delhi in 1949 that he met his future wife, Nirmal Dutt. The privileged daughter of a carpet mill owner, she embraced her new life in Canada. The Sidhoos soon opened the doors of the new East India Carpets location at Fir and 2nd in Vancouver, where the family business is still thriving.

The Sidhoos went on to have a son and daughter and to lend their support to a variety of local charities and causes, including the Kiwanis Club, the Red Cross and the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation, to name a few.