By Promod Puri
Paldi, named after a small town in Hoshiarpur District of Punjab, is located about seven miles south-west of Duncan, off the road to Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island in BC.
The village of Paldi was established in 1917 by an enterprising Punjabi by the name of Mayo Singh, who came to Canada in 1906 when he was 17-year-old.
The place is now quite and sleepy. But in its glorious past, it was bursting with over 1500 inhabitants, who were mostly from Punjab working in the sawmill and as loggers.
Besides, the “Hindoo” population, as they were all called during that time, Paldi was a multicultural community of Japanese, Chinese and immigrants from various other nationalities as well.
The reminiscences of Paldi are reflected through its Indian-sounding street names. There are Ranjeet Street, Bishan Street, Jindo Street, and Kapoor Road covering the entire little village.
The first community-cum-religious center of Paldi was the Sikh temple established in 1919 which is now celebrating its 100th year.
With the Gurdwara in its center, the atmosphere in Paldi during its heydays was that of a typical Punjab village. The Punjabi community brought along its social and cultural traditions. Sports events and festivals were part of the life in Paldi. The big annual event was the “Jor Mella,” a festival of events like soccer, volleyball, and kabaddi.
For the people of South Asian origin in Canada, Paldi is a historical place.
In its dirt lie the memorable annals of the time which saw the glory amid hardships of the community. Paldi is a significant chapter of our struggles, accomplishment, and pride in the recent history of Canada.