Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Asian Canadian History and Archives

About These Collections

The fonds and collections included here contain the records of South Asian Canadians, associations by and for South Asian Canadians, and non-Asian creators whose records contain information relevant to the South Asian Canadian experience.

Archival Collections by South Asian Canadian Creators

Hakim Singh Hundal left India for Canada in 1911 with his mother, Bishan Kaur, and his four sons, Atma, Iqbal, Teja, and Jermeja. The family spent two years living in the Hong Kong Sikh Temple awaiting immigration clearance and eventually arrived in Canada in 1913 after a barrage of appeals to all levels of government. The Hundals lived in Point Grey and the children attended Queen Mary Elementary and Prince of Wales High School, before attending various colleges. Hakim became a director of the Canadian-Indian Supply and Trust company.

Iqbal (b. 1902) earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington in 1925 and went on to become an aeronautical engineer in the United States. While in the United States, Iqbal also served with the Air Unit of the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Later, he married Ranjit Kaur Bains and had at least one son and one daughter. He also worked in the automobile industry in Oshawa, Ontario.

Teja (b. 1903) worked as a lumber grader for 35 years and married Beatrice Evelyn MacDonald. He died in Burnaby, B.C.

Jermeja "Jerry" (b. 1905/6) attended UBC and Oregon State College. He lived and worked for a time in Toronto where he met his wife, Joyce. The couple moved to Los Angeles in 1957, where he opened the West Coast office of Air-India. Prior to that, he was the commercial assistant to the Indian consul general in San Francisco. In the 1960s, he was also the president of the India-American Society.

The fonds consists of family documents (passports, U.S. education degrees) and photographs of the Hundals entering Canada, their home in Vancouver, and the universities in the U.S. where they were educated.

‚ÄčThe Trans-Himalayan Aid Society (TRAS), formerly the Tibetan Refugee Aid Society, is a not-for-profit international development organization based in Vancouver, B.C. TRAS was founded by author George Woodcock and his wife Inge after they visited India and met His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in the 1960s. TRAS became an official Society of British Columbia in 1962 and its name was changed to the Trans-Himalayan Aid Society in 1990. Areas of focus include: education campaigns; building settlements, schools and homes for children and the elderly; vocational training; environmental, agricultural and health programs; and the preservation of arts and culture.

The fonds consists of records generated by TRAS in the course of raising and administering funds to overseas partners. The fonds is organized into administrative records (1962-1990) and project records (1964-1997) and a film entitled

Archival Collections by Non-Asian Creators

Barbara Hodgson was born in 1955 in Edmonton, Alberta and presently resides in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer best known for her fiction and non-fiction books. In her non-fiction work, she was particularly interested in representations of opium production, transportation, sale, and ingestion. This collection contains materials collected and used while working on her novels, Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon (1999) and In the Arms of Morpheus: The Tragic History of Laudanum, Morphine, and Patent Medicines (2001). Many representations of opium ingestion in the collection are orientalist in nature; individuals who have South Asian, Chinese, or Middle Eastern heritage are depicted in a racist, exoticized manner by Western film or medicine companies in order to lend an aura of “glamour” to various products.

Digitized Collections

Materials from RBSC and beyond are digitized and available for viewing online at UBC Open Collections. Those that relate directly to South Asian Canadian history are listed below.

Convened under the auspices of the International Association for Sanskrit Studies, the triennial World Sanskrit Conference is the premier international forum for professional researchers and educators of the Sanskrit language and its literatures, as well as the history, religion, and cultures of premodern South Asia. The 17th WSC was held in Vancouver, B.C. from July 9-13, 2018, and attracted 600+ delegates from around the world. This online collection constitutes the Proceedings of the 17th WSC, and contains selected full-length papers from the 500 presentations approved for inclusion in the conference programme by the WSC2018 Academic Advisory Board.