The Komagata Maru Incident

The Komagata Maru incident happened due to the Canadian government’s attempt to stop immigration from India. On January 8, 1908, they passed a law stating “in the opinion of the Minister of the Interior” those who do not “come from the country of their birth or citizenship by a continuous journey and or through tickets purchased before leaving their country of their birth or nationality” is prohibited immigration into Canada. Soon on April 10, 1908, Canada introduced an amendment to the Immigration Act which was  “to prohibit landing of any specified class of immigrants or any immigrants who have come to Canada otherwise than by continuous journey from the country of which they are natives or citizens and upon through tickets purchased in that country.” Another amendment was made on June 3, 1908 stating: “No immigrant of Asiatic origin shall be permitted to enter Canada unless in actual and personal possession in his or her own right of two hundred dollars, unless such person is a native or subject of an Asiatic country in regard to which special statutory regulations are in force or with which the Government of Canada has made a special treaty, agreement or convention.” This made immigrating into Canada impossible.

What happened?
In 1914, a wealthy man, Gurdit Singh, was in Hong Kong for business reasons and heard about how Indians who wanted to go to Canada but could not because the steamship companies refused to sell tickets to them. So Singh bought the Komagata Maru and sailed to Vancouver with 375 passengers. The journey began in Hong Kong and stopped at Shanghai and Yokahama. When the ship arrived in Vancouver they were not allowed to disembark. They were all loyal British subjects, yet Canada denied them and did not give them justice.

for more information on the Komagate Maru click here

Was Canada correct in passing the these “anti-inclusion” laws?
As  I have discussed this question in class, if in a white man’s point of view during that time, I would think it would be correct. During that time, most things depended on power and statuses so it would be really hard for Canada to control the Asian population especially if there is a language barrier. Canada’s culture and the culture from Asia is very different , thus there is going to be clash in culture and the Asians may not adapt well to Canada’s environment too. A huge problem is that there was a huge racism problem between the Whites and the Asians which has cause a lot of conflict like the race riots in 1907. Canada had also just came back from WWI and didn’t want any more violence. The Europeans living in Canada also had a fear that the Asians will steal their jobs and give them diseases. The last point is that Canada had the right to make their own laws. Though this “anti-inclusion”  did create unity because Indians were denied admission to Canada, so the Indians in North American people went to India to fight for freedom.

Scene in Vancouver Harbor – July 21. 1914 “H.M.S. Rainbow, called to aid in deporting Hindus on board S.S. Komagata Maru”


City of Vancouver Archives. Scene in Vancouver Harbor – July 21. 1914 “H.M.S. Rainbow, called aaaaaaaaato aid in deporting Hindus on board S.S. Komagata Maru”. 2011. Photograph. aaaaaaaaaFlickrWeb. 28 Apr 2012.<;.

  1. “The last point is that Canada had the right to make their own laws”, this is incorrect, India and Canada were under British control, Canada was not a fully independent nation during the incident and which means both India and Canada were equals. Also, why is it that the British Empire could go into India exploit the people, the land, its resources etc. yet, people from India were denied entry into Canada?

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