PAUL Singh Dhaliwal started his journey on March 7, 1932, when he boarded a train in the city of Ludhiana, Punjab, India. Years before, in 1905 or 1906, Paul’s father had arrived in B.C. He worked for about three years at Fraser Mill and Marpole Sawmill before returning to India. During the visit to India he passed away. Paul’s uncle in Abbotsford wrote to encourage family in India to send Paul to Canada.
The journey from Ludhiana was by train to Calcutta and then by ship to Hong Kong. From Hong Kong the journey by ship took until the month of May. Paul arrived at the dock in Victoria and from Victoria he boarded the CPR Ferry to the dock at Granville and Hastings, setting foot in Vancouver on May 9, 1932.
Paul arrived in Canada with the only person he knew on the boat that was travelling to Vancouver. Paul and Mr. Nand Singh, carrying with them their belongings, walked to some friends home in Vancouver at 4th Avenue and Alma Street.
Paul’s uncle lived in Abbotsford and although Abbotsford was a home base, Paul started work three weeks after arriving. He worked at a lumber camp in Green Lake, outside of Squamish, and eventually he worked in mills in Duncan, New Westminster and Vancouver.
Living in Vancouver for a few years, he enjoyed field hockey and was a member of the Vancouver East Indian Hockey Club. Paul recalls the reaction of many people in Vancouver when the city hall was being built and how it was considered to be so far from the downtown area.
Paul also had been participating in local wrestling matches and eventually he began to train professionally and in 1945 he started to tour, having been spotted by a promoter. Paul toured as a professional wrestler throughout the USA and locally and still has an original program for a match that took place in Vancouver. A listing of some of the matches can be found online with the legacyofwrestling.com and wrestlingdata.com websites. Legendary boxer Jack Dempsey was a guest referee for one of Paul’s matches. Paul fondly recalls Dempsey as a ‘nice fella.’
Paul returned to India for a visit, a major decision he still recalls. He was finally offered a lucrative professional wrestling contract and a scout from Hollywood had spotted Paul hoping to have him try out for a movie role. At the same time, Paul found out that his mother was ill and he decided to return to India to visit her.
In 1947 Paul left for India and stayed a few years and while there he married Mohinder Kaur Dhaliwal. He then returned to Mission BC in 1949 and started his own trucking business, Paul Bros. His wife, Mohinder arrived in 1950 and they both settled in Mission raising six children. Paul continued work in his trucking business, eventually called Mission Fuel Ltd., located in the area known as the Mission Flats.
Paul delivered fuel to many families in the Mission / Abbotsford area. As the need for wood and sawdust as home fuel began to diminish, Paul started to work as an independent trucker. Paul began his working career in 1932 and in 1998 he retired, at the age of 84.
Paul has been presented with the Order of Abbotsford by the City of Abbotsford, and Citizen of the Year, and has been recognized by the National Historic Gur Sikh Temple and the Khalsa Diwan Society.
Paul has lived in the Mission / Matsqui area now for almost 70 years and currently resides at his home in Matsqui and has seen many changes. He muses on the trees that remain standing in Mission near the Fraser River and how, despite the many changes, the trees remain.
If you wish to contact Paul S. Dhaliwal please email him at [email protected]
BY VICKY GURJIT DHALIWAL