Mohinder Sall still laughs when he describes the most memorable misconception he formed about Canada while he was growing up in Punjab. "When we were growing up, we'd always heard of snow referred to as 'ice' so we imagined ice cubes falling from the sky, although we couldn't figure out how that was possible" he recalls. "When I actually saw it for myself, I was surprised to see that what it really looked like was pieces of cotton wool."
Sall was 21 years old when he immigrated to B.C. in 1950, leaving behind his wife Surjit, and joining his father, who had been living and working in B.C. since 1931. "Of course, I missed the home where I'd grown up in Punjab but I was happy to be reunited with my father, who I hadn't seen since I was three," he says.
During his first years in Canada, when he worked at mills on Vancouver Island and attended night classes to learn English, Sall lived in a bunkhouse with up to 70 co-workers. "There were two men in a room," he recalls. "The Punjabi workers had their own bunk-house, the Chinese people had their own and the white people had their own."
Sall recalls his father always emphasizing the importance of dressing well. "My dad would say make sure even your shoelaces are tied properly or a policeman will come along and give you fine. He said we should always have proper clothes. When the hippies came along, we didn't understand the way they dressed. No matter what the fashion was, we always followed the rules our father had set and always dressed sharp."
Surjit Sall joined her husband on Vancouver Island in 1955 and the first of their four children was born the following year. Sall was among the men who helped to build the gurdwara at Lake Cowichan with their own hands."The whole community pitched in to pay for supplies and those of us who knew carpentry helped to do the actual building," he says.
In 1973, the family relocated to Prince George, where they lived for the next 32 years. Later the Salls and their grown children all moved to the Lower Mainland. Granddaughter Missy Sall says she was proud to see a reminder of her family's roots in Canada when she visited Lake Cowichan. "When we went back for the Indo-Canadian family reunion a couple of years ago there was a huge event and the pioneers to Canada, including my grandparents, got awards. It was great to see the street (Sall Road) with our name on it."