Skip to content

Time Traveller: Sikh millworkers helped power B.C.'s timber industry in the early 1900s

Workforce was divided along racial lines, with 'non-white' workers given undesirable jobs
Sikh millworkers

This detail of a ca. 1906 photograph shows workers at the Seymour Lumber Company mill, which was located at East 17th Street and Sutherland Avenue in North Vancouver.

Sikh immigrants, predominately from the Punjab region in India, started arriving in B.C. in the early 1900s. At that time the timber industry was at the peak of the province’s economy. Many Sikh men found work in local sawmills like the Seymour Lumber Co.

These South Asian millworkers entered a workforce sharply divided along racial lines. They, along with other non-white workers, were given the undesirable jobs that were deemed “unskilled” and therefore they were paid less and were the first to be dismissed during industry slumps.

Visit the MONOVA website for more information about the history of the North Shore and to plan your visit to MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver, now open at 115 West Esplanade in The Shipyards.

Currently, MONOVA: Archives of North Vancouver ,at 3203 Institute Road in Lynn Valley, is open by appointment only. Contact:

Navigate culture on the North Shore by using the North Shore Culture Compass.