New Westminster’s Q to Q ferry docks will be renamed in commemoration of the Komagata Maru incident of 1914.
The decision was made this week after a unanimous vote by city council on the matter.
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It comes after a process that began in October of 2019, when Raj Singh Toor – spokesperson for the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society – attended a council meeting and requested the city consider naming a street, park, or another City asset after the Komagata Maru, according to a staff report.
On May 23, 1914, a crowded ship from Hong Kong carrying 376 passengers, most immigrants from Punjab, British India, arrived in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet.
The passengers, all British subjects, were challenging the Continuous Passage regulation, which stated that immigrants must “come from the country of their birth, or citizenship, by a continuous journey and through tickets purchased before leaving the country of their birth, or citizenship.”
The regulation had been brought about in 1908 in an effort to curb Indian immigration to Canada.
As a result, the Komagata Maru was denied docking by the authorities. Only 20 returning residents and the ship’s doctor and his family were eventually granted admission to Canada.
Following a two-month stalemate, the ship was escorted out of the harbour by the Canadian military on July 23, 1914, and forced to sail back to Budge-Budge, India, where 19 of the passengers were killed by gunfire upon disembarking and many others imprisoned.
The Q to Q ferry currently operates every 15 to 30 minutes from early morning to early evening on weekdays, and from late morning to late afternoon on weekends. The spring and summer peak seasons will see increased frequencies and longer operating hours.
The foot passenger ferry service connects the dock below the Inn at the Quay in downtown New Westminster – next to the River Market – to the Port Royal public dock across the Fraser River in Queensborough. Each one-way trip takes about five minutes.