Research for the Film

Research highlights include: the discovery of the transcripts of 13 original interviews with immigrants from India made by W.L. Mackenzie King in 1907, locating a travel document apparently signed by the grandfather of one of the people we interviewed, and finding early Canadian and Indian passports belonging to pioneer immigrants. Locating even a small item such as a passport brings a fresh connection to the past that delights a researcher.

We searched the photograph and moving images collections and all files relating to Indian immigration at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, the Provincial Archives of British Columbia in Victoria, the City of Victoria Archives, Saanich Archives and the City of Vancouver Archives.

During 20 days of filming in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Langley, Victoria, and William Head, B.C., we interviewed 19 people and filmed many locations of significance to early immigration, the Komagata Maru incident and the lives of immigrants. We recorded 10 hours of interviews and supporting location images.

On Vancouver Island we filmed at Victoria Harbour, the Empress Hotel, William Head (the old Quarantine Station), Race Rocks lighthouse, Fisgard lighthouse, and Mount Douglas. Other filming locations in the Vancouver area included Vancouver Harbour, capturing the scene of the Komagata Maru incident, and the three moving memorials of the Komagata Maru incident. The team also filmed at the Ross Street Sikh Temple, The Abbotsford Sikh Temple, Gold Wood Industries sawmill, the approaches to Vancouver Harbour, and the booming grounds at Squamish.

Two highlights of our filming experience were receiving permission to film Victoria Harbour from the “Flag Deck” of the Empress Hotel in Victoria (from where royalty waves), and to film within the William Head Institution, a minimum security prison near Victoria, the very locale of the immigrants’ first connection with Canada.

The Memorial to the Komagata Maru in Portal Park, Vancouver (Sally Gray)

Remnants of the dock at the old Quarantine Station at William Head (Sally Gray)


Dis-Immigration: Stemming the Flow from India
is being shown at the Victoria Film Festival
Tuesday February 5, 2013
Empire Theatre, 805 Yates Street
9:45 pm

Tickets ($10.00) available at: