As the first Sikh establishment in British Columbia, the Khalsa Diwan Society is a key historic figure when looking at the history of Sikh migration to British Columbia. At a time when newly migrated Sikh families needed a communal ground in order to share their collected experiences, and assist one another emotionally, financially, etc., the establishment of the Khalsa Diwan Society helped Sikhs to not only build their community, but also to build their lives in British Columbia.
As the Khalsa Diwan Society refers to the corporate name given to the Sikh society, “Gur Sikh Temple” is the given name of the first Sikh Temple established in Abbotsford. And since there would not have been any Sikh temples in B.C without the Khalsa Diwan Society, it is important to understand its origins in order to understand the history of Sikh pioneers in B.C.
The Khalsa Diwan Society was first established on July 22nd, 1906, and officially registered on March 13th, 1909 in Vancouver, and located at the 8000 Ross Street. In par with its official status as a formal “society,” a committee was also elected. As such, from 1907-1909, the first committee of the Khalsa Diwan Society of Vancouver was comprised of the following Sikh community figures:
President- Bhai Sewa Singh
Vice President- Bhai Bhola Singh (Narinder Singh)
Treasurer- Bhai Arjan Singh
Member- Bhai Bhag Singh
Member- Bhai Balwant Singh
Member- Bhai Bhola SIngh
Between the process of its establishment in 1906, and its official registration in 1909, the very first Sikh temple under the auspices of the Khalsa Diwan Society was built in 1908 at the location of 1866 West 2nd Avenue. Following its initial construction, the Sikh Gurdwara was formally inaugurated on January 19, 1908.
Because the Khalsa Diwan Society, and the Sikh Gurdwara’s were built for the well being and growth of the Sikh community in British Columbia, it was up to the Sikh community to raise the funds to build the Gurdwara. And indeed, in this feat, the Sikh community did not fail as it was due primarily to their efforts that the first Sikh Temple in British Columbia was constructed.
Following its first inauguration, the Khalsa Diwan Society not only continued to maintain its presence in Vancouver, but also spread to areas such as Abbotsford. And with the growth of the Khalsa Diwan Society into Abbotsford, followed the construction of the Gur Sikh Temple in 1911.
In 1975 the Khalsa Diwan Society of Abbotsford separated from the parent organization in Vancouver, as the title of the Abbotsford gurdwara was transferred to the separated entity. The Abbotsford Sikhs wanted to have local control over their gurdwara.
In 1983, a new, much larger, temple with a completely different architectural style was built on the opposite side of the road that came to be known as Khalsa Diwan Society.