There is a unique Sikh place of worship on South Fraser Way in Abbotsford, BC called The Gur Sikh Gurdwara (temple), designated as a National Historic Site by Prime Minister Jean Chretien on July 31, 2002. A hundred- plus-year-old Sikh religious institution, built by Sikh settlers (started in 1908); this gurdwara is a testament to the pride, vision and steadfastness of a settler community at the turn of the last century.
The first Sikhs had arrived in the Fraser Valley in 1905, from Punjab, India and settled in the valley by working on the farms and in the forestry industry. Soon after, in 1908, local Sikhs started to build a Sikh gurdwara in a true community effort, under the auspices of the Khalsa Diwan Society. It would take the fledgling community four years of hard work and great commitment – both financial and physical – to finish building it.
The project was spearheaded by Sunder Singh Thandi, who along with Arjan Singh purchased a once acre property on a prominent hill adjacent to the mill at Mill Lake where about fifty or so Sikh men worked. These men and others who worked on the farms in the area used to carry local timber on their backs up the hill from Mill Lake to the Temple site. The foundation stone was laid by Bhai Balwant Singh and Bhai Ram Singh Dhuleta. Records show that in 1910, the Abbotsford Post carried advertisements calling for tenders for steam heating for the Sikh temple.
Since 2011, the Sikh Heritage Museum, located on the ground floor of the Heritage site, has put on exhibits annually highlighting aspects of Sikh settler and migration history and the contemporary moment. The site has signage for self guided tours and is open to all. Entering the upstairs space, still includes a fully functioning Sikh gurdwara and so etiquette is requested when visiting the upstairs space.